Joan Bailey | Post Courier | July 14, 2016
AN engineer from East Sepik Province has warned of massive environmental destruction if the proposed Frieda copper mine goes ahead. Thomsen Benguma said the volume of destruction will be unprecedented.
Mr Benguma has called on the Mineral Resources Authority and the West and East Sepik Provincial Governments to take high level precautions and insist on the developer to design comprehensive waste management plans. This is to manage the tailings and the overburden or top soil that is dynamited and pushed off the side of the mountain.
Mr Benguma said the management of the tailings is normally captured in the waste management plan but the overburden which is also waste is never taken into account.
He explained that when the top soil is dynamited, unburden sodium mitrite and sodium nitrate is trapped in the soil and when this waste comes into contact with water, paste is formed.
“When this material is carried down by flood during rainy season, there will be heavy deposits in the river system which overtime will fill up the river, thus displacing aquatic life,” he said.
Mr Benguma who is also a waste management engineer by profession said the storage of tailings in high altitudes also poses a threat and suggested that it be put through a gas plasma system where the waste is burned or melted, resulting in the recovery of processions metals contained in the wastes.
He called on the Mineral Resources Authority to take heed and refrain from drawing conclusions that all will be fine and suggested that the developer must sign a memorandum of understanding to fully compensate the people of East Sepik, especially those living along the Sepik River if a environmental disaster occurred.