“Newcrest and Harmony have never mentioned anything about earthquakes during any awareness”
Jerry Sefe | Post Courier | May 17, 2019
THE people of Yanta, Hengambu and Babwaf are concerned about the safety of their relatives who will be working at the underground Wafi-Golpu mine when it begins operations.
Their concern follows the recent 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Bulolo district last Tuesday. They described the quake as a wakeup call for the Wafi-Golpu underground mine developer Newcrest and Harmony.
They said the quake was disturbing to them as such natural occurrences may be hazardous in future for the Wafi-Golpu underground mine if it comes into full operation.
They said they are not representing any individual person nor its respective landowner presidents who were supposed to represent them to speak on behalf of them. “We are concerned about the lives of thousands of people including our children who will be working underground when the mine begins operation,” they said.
Provincial chairman of mines and petroleum and president of Mumeng local level government Okam Paton said he believes the resilience of these natural disasters would be captured in the mining environment impact statement.
However, he said it is in the best interest of the landowners that the responsible authorities respond to their concerns.
According to Wafi-Golpu project environmental impact statement chapter 21 of unplanned events, there is nothing mentioned about earthquakes.
“However, these events are often described as ‘low probability, high consequence’ events in reference to the position they occupy on a typical risk matrix.
“They can be broadly categorised as: natural events, significant seismic, weather or other natural events that occur infrequently but have the potential to cause significant damage.
“Accidental events, events originating from human activity that are considered unlikely due to the engineering design, operational controls and monitoring programs that are in place, but have the potential to cause significant damage if they do occur.
“Despite the low probability of occurrence of these events, the potential natural events considered most likely to affect the project are seismic events, tsunami, storm surge and flood events, bush fire and drought,” they said.
Knowing it would bring chaos to lives and properties, the landowners said they never thought of an earthquake at all, claiming the reason behind this was because they were not informed at all by the company.
“Newcrest and Harmony have never mentioned anything about earthquakes during any awareness or during the mining warden’s hearing over the years. “We were always limited to environmental destruction, compensation, royalty, and spinoff and so forth.
“Nothing was mentioned about earthquakes and its impacts on Wafi on both open cut and underground mine or how best the project can withstand the impacts during earthquakes,” they said.