Pundari ignores main issues with “World Class” MCC

The recent inspection visit by an official PNG government delegation to “World Class” Ramu Nico sites in Basamuk and Kurumbukari in July was timely, as there were serious issues that needed attention. The delegation consisting of the Minister for Environment and Conservation John Pundari, Madang Governor Jim Kas and other senior officials in the Ministry were given an inspection tour of the mine’s two sites. At the end of the inspection, the Minister had a briefing with a small group of landowners.

In the meeting, the Minister asked for understanding from the landowners towards the mine’s shortcomings, to which he implied was caused by a slump in nickel prices in the world market. As a result this has gravely affected revenue for the mine, hence, affecting the mine’s operations. Minister Pundari appealed to the landowners to be patient with “World Class” MCC and assured that when the mine comes into full operation, landowners will receive the promised benefits.

The aggravating concern with the Minister’s stance was his ignorance to very important issues. The issues are;

  • Chromite mining, storage and transportation: Chromite mining is hazardous because of the minerals potential to become toxic chromium VI. MCC have adamantly refuted claims that the poisonous chromium VI is not present up at KBK, although their Environmental Impact Assessment states otherwise. MCC is planning to transport chromite out of KBK to Madang town using the national highway, which raises other concerns because of the treacherous road conditions, and public health and safety. The potentially dangerous chromite is said to be stored in Madang town before being shipped out.
  • There are no laws for chromite mining in Papua New Guinea. The Department of Environment and Conservation should be aware that chromite mining requires particular consideration because of its toxic potential. MCC claims to be complying to other national and international mining laws and regulations; however there is no specific law available on chromite mining in PNG, hence the certainty of ensuring health and environment safety is a concern.
  • Basamuk pollution: Scientific reports from the recent Biodiversity expedition revealed serious pollution in the Basamuk Bay. The mine has not come into full operation as yet however; mine tailings have covered hydrothermal vents under the sea preventing the process of chemosynthesis hence choking marine life in the deep waters. A sponsored scientific study for Ramu Nico, claimed that there is no life under the depth of 800 metres. This was refuted by marine biologists in the recent expedition saying there is life well below 800 metres, and a whole new group of underwater species have been found in Madang waters below 800 metres.
  • Landowner issues, currently, more than 30 houses at Enekuai resettlement compound are without power and water supply ever since the establishments of the facility, landowners have been given contracts to transport the hazardous chromite to Madang town.

Currently, “World Class” Ramu Nico mine is on a 10 year tax holiday. Earlier this year, Madang Governor Jim Kas called the National Government to cut the tax holiday to five years. He also stated that the formalities to bring the mine into Madang had been done in Port Moresby, bypassing the Madang Provincial Government who now a mere spectators to a major development occurring in the province.

In a recent turn of events, the mine has come out and promoted its commitment to workers safety and the environment. However, “World Class” Ramu Nico has still yet to show its commitment to the above issues. The department of environment and conservation has turned a blind eye to its mandated responsibility. Hence, this brings into question the department’s knowledge and awareness to the issues and importantly, what is the department’s stance on these issues?


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Filed under Environmental impact, Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

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