Minister defends closure of Ramu mine
The National aka The Loggers Times | June 6th, 2016
MINING Minister Byron Chan has defended the forced closure of the Ramu nickel mine in Madang saying an investigation is important into the death of an expatriate and injury to two local workers.
Chan told Parliament last week that the Government wanted Ramu NiCo Management Ltd to engage an independent inspector to assess the situation.
He was responding to a concern raised by Usino Bundi MP Anton Yagama about the closure of the nickel and cobalt project for seven weeks.
The Mineral Resources Authority had shut down the mine on April 15.
He said the mine’s prolonged closure had negatively impacted businesses and the community with workers being laid off.
Chan said: “It’s unfortunate that it has been shut down for seven weeks.
“But there was an incident which led to the death of a foreigner and injuries to two Papua New Guineans.
“The matter is serious and has led to the shut-down.” He blamed a cost-cutting measure by the company which “unfortunately” led to the incident.
“It is a cost cutting measure – the price of nickel has dropped so low. The reason for the shut-down was a burst in of the pipeline,” Chan said.
“We’ve asked the company to get an independent assessor to assess the accident area and provide the department and inspectors the way forward.
“It involves the high pressure pumps. It was a bit complicated.”
He said the assessors and inspectors would make recommendations to the Mineral Resources Authority this week.
“Possible reopening of trains 1 and 2 of the mine based on that investigation,” he said.
“The third train which caused the accident will still be shut down however because of the necessity of the mine to reopen, we must look at this independent report and assess it professionally.”