Shirley Mauludu | The National aka The Loggers Times | January 3, 2020
THE low water level in the Fly River in Western has forced Ok Tedi Mining Ltd (OTML) to reduce its production by 50 per cent, according to chief executive and managing director Peter Graham.
Graham told The National yesterday that water level was low last month (December), thus, impacting the mine’s operations.
“During December, the water level in the Fly River has been insufficient to allow regular passage of Ok Tedi’s feeder vessels loaded with concentrate out of Kiunga and back from Port Moresby with fuel and food for all but the last days of the year,” he said.
Graham said four vessels were recently cleared but one loaded remained stuck in the shallows.
“As a consequence, Ok Tedi has limited stocks of fuel, diesel, explosives and other vital materials and concentrate storage in Kiunga is approaching capacity,” he said.
“To extend available stocks of vital materials, mine production has been reduced by 50 per cent and some contract personnel have been released.
“In the past week, some fuel and food has been received lifting stocks to 20-30 days at current reduced consumption rates.
“For the community, food stocks are adequate through the supermarkets and an allocation of diesel made available for rationing.”
Graham further noted that the weather forecast was for above average rainfall this month and next. However, he said: “Once river levels rise and sustain, recovery to full production will likely take several weeks.”
Meanwhile, in a recent statement regarding release of the final dividend of K100 million paid to shareholders, OTML chairman Sir Moi Avei said:
“This result has been achieved despite several extended periods of dry weather, including the current month (Dec), during which shipments of supplies in and product out have been severely constrained.”