The National aka The Loggers Times | October 8, 2019
PAPUA New Guinea is largely a rural-based society and jeopardising the environment would have a severe impact on the lives of the majority, Institute of National Affairs executive director Paul Barker says.
Barker expressed this concern in Port Moresby last Tuesday in light of the widespread reports of fish and sharks being found dead in the seas of Madang after the slurry spill incident at Ramu nickel mine’s Basamuk refinery on Aug 24.
“Mining invariably has environmental impacts and some countries like Costa Rica have chosen not to permit mining,” Barker said.
“But most, including PNG, allow some under controlled and supervised conditions.
“Clearly, if the potential impact is going to be excessive, or the benefits inadequate, the government and local communities need to be prepared to reject mining operations, or specific practices. Those may include practices related to waste management, including riverine or offshore waste disposal.”
Barker said technology approval on the use of tailings dams, standards, engineering tests, monitoring and oversight and accident planning was critical, with clear requirements for capacity and delineation of responsibilities.
“Unfortunately, in the case of the recent Basamuk leakage, the oversight, management and public awareness systems have so far shown themselves to be deficient,” he said.
“PNG is largely a rural-based society.
“Most people live in rural areas and depend on the health of their land and land use, or rivers and clean marine habitats.
“Jeopardising these environments has a severe impact on the often challenging lives rural people.”