Mining and petroleum operations shut down in Papua New Guinea

A landslide blocking road accesses from Tabubil to Ok Tedi’s Fubilan Mine pit. Photo: Baundo Mereh/Facebook

Radio New Zealand | 27 February 2018

Images of the giant Ok Tedi copper mine in Western Provence indicated serious damage to roads and copper pipelines, the national coordinator for the PNG Resource Governance Coalition Martyn Namorong said.

Pipelines carrying copper concentrate and mining waste had also been damaged, raising serious concerns about toxic spills, Mr Namorong said.

There were also concerns about the integrity of the gas pipeline that runs from the highlands to Port Moresby.

Mr Namorong said the images he had seen from the area showed enormous land slips and twisted pipes.

“Well in terms of the photos they’re showing major landslides. These are not small landslides they’re massive landslides. The damage is very, very significant.

“The quake would have been really, really massive in terms of … in fact what people are saying is it’s probably the worst earthquake they’ve ever felt in their entire lives.”

The company Oil Search released a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange confirming the shutdown of its production facilities in the highlands due to the quake, Mr Namorong said.

The company said it was trying to confirm that all its staff had been accounted for.

It said it was monitoring the impact of the quake on the local communities and would assist the authorities where possible.

The area is the hub of PNG’s LNG Project, in which Oil Search has a 29 percent stake.

The epicentre of the quake was located in a rugged region near Mt Sisa, which is close to key infrastructure for PNG’s ExxonMobil-led LNG gas project.

A spokesperson from Exxon told RNZ Pacific that all of its employees and contractors at its Hides gas facilities had been accounted for and were safe.

As a precaution, ExxonMobil PNG Limited had shut down its Hides Gas Conditioning Plant to assess any damages to its facilities, she said.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Papua New Guinea

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