Engineer warns of Frieda river mine impacts

A massive wave of toxic mud swept away the lives of locals living below the mining waste impoundment. Photo: Romerito Pontes

A mine in Brazil recently released a massive wave of toxic mud that swept away the lives of locals living below the site. Photo: Romerito Pontes

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.

Related stories:

Frieda river mine will blow a huge hole right through Vision 2050

Mining Threatens Papua New Guinea’s Mighty Sepik River with Utter Ruin



Filed under Environmental impact, Papua New Guinea

4 responses to “Engineer warns of Frieda river mine impacts

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  2. Helen

    microfiltration of waste water can be used

  3. Kenneth Unamba

    There must be no push over the side of overburden or any other waste rock. All waste must be dug out and trucked to engineered dumps. All run offs from the pit to any other infrastructure development must be captured and filtered before release into the river system. Tailings must be stored in and engineered tailings dam never to be released into the mighty Sepik and its tributaries. Stringent monitoring by DEC and MInes Inspectorate or an independent consulting group on a quarterly basis should be implemented. If all this is complied with, there will be very minimal disruption to the peoples livelihood and the general Eco System. If not than GRAM’s ass will be kicked from here all the way to China !

  4. William H. Townsend

    As a civil engineer, I served the PNG Government as its technical advisor on the Ok Tedi Mine, reporting to the Secretary of Minerals and Energy and the Secretary of Finance from 1981 through 1984. My job was to monitor construction of the mine and its associated infrastructure and the environmental impact from construction and mining. I am pleased to see Papua New Guineans speaking out about the necessity to protect the Sepik from the fate of the Ok Tedi and Fly Rivers.

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