Tag Archives: Basamuk refinery

Expert says lab results from PNG Ramu nickel spill ‘alarming’: report

Melanie Burton | Reuters | October 11, 2019

An expert in chemical contamination has called test results from the Ramu nickel spill into Papua New Guinea’s Basamuk Bay in August “alarming,” according to a local media report on Thursday.

A spill at Metallurgical Corp of China (MCC)’s nickel processing plant located in Madang, on the country’s northeastern coast, caused the surrounding ocean to turn red and left a muddy residue on the rocky shoreline, according to locals and photographs of the incident at the time.

The spill occurred as a result of an operational and administrative failure, a government official said at the time. MCC now faces compensation claims and calls from the local governor to close the plant.

Environmental remediation expert Alex Mojon took samples from the bay in September, according to a news report from Papua New Guinea’ EMTV Online.

Mojon has previously worked for Swiss oil remediation company Man Oil Group AG as its chief scientist, according to his LinkedIn profile.

“I have to tell you that it’s alarming … there is evidence that Ramu Nico is not managing their waste and that is a fact. I have obtained the results from the laboratory from Germany … I am shocked,” Mojon told local media, according to EMTV Online.

All of the 28 samples tested were found to have toxic levels of heavy metals contamination, the EMTV report said, citing Mojon.

Mojon did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment.

A spokesman for Ramu Nickel did not have an immediate comment while a call to MCC went unanswered. But an executive in August said that company management was “extremely concerned” about the incident and that it would address compensation once its investigation was complete.

An investigation by the country’s Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) is due to be made available in the next week, according to media reports.

In a televised press conference on TVWAN news, Mojon said that some of the spillage had not dispersed and that local residents had complained of smoke from the plant that irritated their skin and eyes.

“We welcome a copy of the report produced by Alex Mojon to be presented officially to CEPA, MRA and other interested organizations before we could make any comments,” said Jerry Garry of Papua New Guinea’s Mineral Resources Authority told Reuters.

“We cannot fully appreciate and comment on his report until a copy and presentation is made to CEPA,” Garry said.

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Report On Basamuk Spill Still To Be Released By Minister

Gorethy Kenneth | Post Courier | October 4, 2019

The final report on the Basamuk Bay chemical spill in Madang Province on August 23 will be released by the Environment and Conservation Minister Geoffery Kama, who is away overseas.

The PNG government put forward four recommendations which was detailed and discussed in a heated meeting between the Madang provincial government, Ramu Nico and the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority in Port Moresby yesterday.

Madang provincial administrator Joseph Kunda, represented the Madang team, met with the CEPA team and the Ramu mine executives in Port Moresby.

CEPA did an initial water quality assessment of the raw slurry spill impact area and released the report which would officially be handed to the minister for release in the coming Parliament session.

In the initial assessment, there were four recommendations:

  • Detail investigations of the heavy metals in the slurry components within the Basamuk Bay;
  • Shoreline/benthic sediments and fish tissue sampling and investigations to ascertain heavy metals in the sediments;
  • Socio-economic investigation to establish local community perceptions on the spill, their fishing and usual micro-economic activities within Astrolabe Bay; and
  • An independent investigation to be done forthwith to capture all residual impacts of the August 23 spill within the Basamuk Bay.

The Madang provincial administration team had travelled to meet with CEPA as a matter of urgency for the government to reveal what the cause of dead fish in Madang was, hence the ban on sale of fish.

But CEPA advised yesterday that there was still the need for an independent investigation.
And a full final report to be released later.

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Dead fish prompt new calls to shut down Ramu mine

Mysterious Fish Deaths in PNG’s Madang Province

NBC News / PNG Today | 18 September 2019

Locals in Warai Village of Raicoast District in Madang Province, Papua New Guinea have raised concerns about tuna fish dying mysteriously in the area.

Fisherman Thomas Warr told NBC News from Madang, the villagers started noticing fish dying and floating ashore, on Tuesday 17th September.

He said villagers are confused as to what would be the cause of this, but they have refrained from fishing, following this occurrence.

Mr. Warr said reports have emerged of fish dying as well in Karkar and Bagbag Islands – something which he says needs to be confirmed as well.

A team led by Madang Provincial Administrator Joseph Kunda Bonomane with representatives from the National Fisheries Authorities, National Disaster office and Health among others are now traveling to the site to collect fish samples, for testing.

Meantime, people in the Raicoast District of Madang Province are questioning what has become of the report on the ‘200-000 litres toxic slurry’ spillage which occurred in August, from the Ramu Nickel Mine’s Basamuk processing plant.

The Chinese company which has invested over six billion kina in the project, came out recently revealing the magnitude of the spill following outrage by locals after the colour of the sea in the area turned red, brown and orange.

The spill material – reportedly ‘very toxic’ was a result of a pump failure caused by an electronic fault which led to an overflow.

A few weeks later now, with fish turning up dead on the shores in the same area – the locals want answers.

Mr. Thomas Warr said it’s hard to understand when you have big mining operations like this and yet no testing facilities for instances such as this.

He said now, everyone has to wait for samples to be sent overseas for testing and the people are kept in suspense – in most cases there is no feedback at all.

NBC News understands, residue from the spillage were sent to Australia for testing, and results are expected this month.

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Yama Invites PM To Visit Basamuk Bay

Gorethy Kenneth | Post Courier | September 9, 2019

Madang’s first environment affected baby has been born in Basamuk with deformed fingers and toes, Madang Governor Peter Yama told Parliament during grievance debate last Friday.

And gardens, plantations and vegetation at surrounded and nearby Ramu Mine areas are now seriously affected, he said.

Further, Mr Yama has asked Prime Minister James Marape to visit Madang, specifically the affected villages and the mine and to see for himself the deformed baby including the affected villages if he was serious about “Taking Back PNG”.

“If Prime Minister wants to prove it to himself beyond reasonable doubt, please, I am willing to have you come to Madang, I will fly you there, you see the deformed baby, you see the land, you see the sea yourself and see all the people that are affected and suffering, your people out there, then you can believe yourself,” he said.

He spoke again about all the issues he raised including those of the electorate MPs to the Parliament reiterating the mine closure and a review with a new MOA to be signed in favour of his government.

“Mr Speaker, I am very depressed since ol tokim mi, olsem wanpla mama ikarim baby wantaim fourpla finger tripla leg, deformed baby lo ples, this is the first time and looks like more mothers will have the same problem,” Mr Yama said.

“I cannot allow this to happen in Madang.

“Madang is so beautiful I cannot bear to see my children born deformed and the last thing is I don’t want my people and my people must not blame me and my children that I have done injustice to them because I was the governor.

“And I have the privilege to tell this Parliament, there’s no other way to help this people but to shut down the mine and re-negotiate.

“Prime Minister if you want to take back Papua New Guinea, you must start with Ramu Nickel.

“On record, you will see, I never signed the agreement and I refused to go to China to go and sign the agreement as the Member for Usino Bundi.

“The agreement has expired and we must now sign the MOA, and look at all these issues that we have been raising all through, let’s have a win, win situation here, the last thing we want is, if there is no even playing fields, what’s the purpose of having Ramu Nickel?”

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Chinese-owned Ramu Nickel plant spills 200,000 litres of ‘toxic’ slurry into the sea

 Liam Fox / Pacific Beat | ABC News | 30 August 2019

A Chinese nickel mine operator has apologised after accidentally spilling an estimated 200,000 litres of toxic slurry into a bay in Papua New Guinea’s Madang province, turning the water bright red and staining the shore.

Key points:

    • The spilled material is “very toxic” and rich in heavy metals
    • However PNG authorities say there are no immediate safety concerns
    • Compensation and punishments will be pursued, officials said

Mining authorities in PNG said the spilled material was a mineral-rich slurry that had been piped to the processing plant at Basamuk Bay from a nickel mine site 135 kilometres inland.

Mineral Resources Authority managing director Jerry Garry told the ABC’s Pacific Beat program the slurry was “very acidic”.

“In terms of the heavy metals — in terms of nickel, cobalt, magnesium — they are very toxic,” he said.

Mr Garry said the spill occurred when an electronic fault caused a pump failure, which went undetected by workers, leading to an overflow.

The spill occurred on August 24, and photos showing the contamination caused outrage on social media.

“The people from the village they went down to the beach … and they realised the water was contaminated and the colour had turned to red,” Nigel Uyam, a local villager who took the first photos of the spill, told the ABC.

“They are angry … we are trying to control the angry people and we are trying to control the situation.”

Authorities said compensation would be pursued and a punishment would also be imposed on the plant operator, Ramu Nickel, which is owned by the Metallurgical Corp of China (MCC).

Ramu Nickel’s vice-president, Wang Baowen, said the company was extremely concerned about the incident and “committed to address any compensation”.

$2b nickel mine’s troubled past

The spill is the latest incident in the Ramu Nickel mine’s short but troubled history. The $2 billion project was the first Chinese resource investment in Papua New Guinea.

The start of operations were delayed by a year as landowners fought an unsuccessful legal battle to prevent it from dumping waste into the sea by a process known as deep-sea tailings disposal.

A clash of cultures saw local staff fight Chinese employees in 2012, while armed villagers attacked the mine site in 2014, injuring staff and destroying property and equipment.

A Chinese worker was killed and two local staff injured in a workplace accident in 2016 that saw the mine temporarily closed — that same year slurry leaked from the pipeline connecting the mine to the processing plant.

“People have been raising concerns about the way the plant has been operating for years,” Gavin Mudd, an associate professor at RMIT University’s engineering department, told the ABC.

“If this happened in Australia, there would be heads rolling.”

Despite the toxic nature of the spill, the mineral authority’s inspector found no immediate safety concerns and no reason to shut down the plant’s operations.

Residue samples have been sent to Australia for testing, with results expected in under a month.

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RAMU NICKEL WANTS TO GET AWAY WITH AN APOLOGY

Vice President of Ramu NiCo, Wang Baowen took the opportunity to apologise to Mining Minister, Johnson Tuke, Governor Peter Yama and MRA MD, Jerry Garry during their visit to Basamuk Refinery on Wed Aug 28 to carry out an independent assessment on the slurry overflow

‘Unfortunate overflow caused inconvenience to villagers’

Ramu NiCo apologises to slurry overflow

Wang Baowen | MCC

THE Vice President of Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd, Mr. Wang Baowen apologised to the nation through Mining Minister, Johnson Tuke, Madang Governor, Peter Yama, Managing Director of Mineral Resources Authority, Jerry Garry and landowners at Basamuk in Rai Coast district for the unfortunate slurry overflow on August 24 that entered the harbor causing inconvenience to the local villagers.

“Company management is extremely concerned about this incident and will not treat it lightly. Even though the slurry spillage occurred accidentally and not out of Company’s negligence to industrial requirements and standards, we will take this incident up to the management level and work very hard to improve so we do not face similar incident in the future,”

“To our local communities who are our friends and have been our most important host and who have been very cooperative to date, we want to continue working with you as we are committed to ensure a harmonious relationship.”

“We are committed to address any compensation in-line with the existing Compensation Agreement as a result of the incident including carry out awareness of the situation once all the facts have been provided to us by agencies responsible,”

“We value your support towards our project as we strive to achieve mutual win-win outcomes, we will continue to work together to enhance our common benefits,” Mr. Wang Baowen expressed in front of the Mining Minister, Tuke, Governor Yama and MRA MD, Mr. Garry on Wednesday Aug 29 during their visit to Basamuk Refinery to do an independent assessment on the slurry overflow.

Mr. Wang Baowen assured all stakeholders and the landowners of Basamuk on behalf of Ramu NiCo that his company is currently working closely with the independent investigators on the ground to establish the main cause of the incident.

“The company will be guided and accept any remedial measures imposed by Government after the findings and is committed to fully implement directions by the State to avoid reoccurrence of this event,” Mr. Wang Baowen said. 

Mining Minister Johnson Tuke and Madang Governor Peter Yama expressed concern on the incident that has gone viral on social media causing a lot of uncertainty and criticism. They emphasised that such incident must be avoided to enjoy a harmonious project operation that will promote confidence to all stakeholders to the Project.

Mr.Tuke said what had happened is now gone but he will meet with the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Jeffrey Kama and release a joint media statement next week to assure the people of PNG and Madang on the Basamuk incident and way forward for the Project success.

While supporting the Mining Minister, Governor Yama told the Company that he is committed to serve his people in the province while supporting major investors like Ramu NiCo for the development of Madang and PNG

“I as the governor of Madang have the responsibility towards my little people and nothing else. When you (Ramu NiCo) do the right thing, my people are happy, I am happy and you will be happy doing business. Simple as that,” Mr. Yama said.

Managing Director of MRA, Jerry Garry expressed his satisfaction towards Ramu NiCo for solving the initial critical issues and asked the Company to further provide information on heavy metal concentration in the slurry before the overflow, the amount of heavy metal into the harbor (sea), the quantity of slurry into the sea and metal concentration. 

According to MRA’s preliminary findings, Mr. Garry said the slurry overflow was from one of the slurry neutralisation tanks on early hours (4.30am) Saturday Aug 24 after maintenance work. Two slurry pumps control system failed causing a loss of primary containment and tank overflow for almost 48 minutes.

“The overflowed slurry flowed into an emergency retention pond and some slurry bypassed the diverter gate then flowed into the harbour less than 28 minutes,”

“The Authorities (MRA & CEPA) were informed Saturday (August 24) afternoon, and officers were dispatched to site on Monday Aug 26 afternoon to conduct a thorough investigation till Wed Aug 28,” Mr. Garry said.

MRA confirmed closure of the affected ocean front after Company Community Affairs officers had communicated several times to villagers not to utilise for recreational purposes or fishing within the affected area.

“The investigations will determine the nature of the slurry, including toxicity, pH and other heavy elements discharged and how best to mitigate the slurry already accidentally discharged into the ocean,”

“The sea water sample collected by CEPA has been delivered to an independent lab in Australia for further analysis and result will be delivered to CEPA for final report.”

“Furthermore, the investigations will establish any procedural failures on the part of the operator and necessary remedial measures will be imposed,”

 “We will surely update the nation and everyone when the investigations are duly completed. In the meantime, we are placing our efforts in safeguarding the local communities as our priority,” Mr. Garry said. 

Mr. Wang Baowen said the operation of the Refinery is normal with no casualty. He said the imprint of the environment damaged has been stabilised and final result of the independent investigation will be produced once ready.

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Ramu Mine spill turns PNG coastline red

AFP News | 29 August 2019

Papua New Guinea officials have sealed off the area around a Chinese-owned nickel plant in the north of the country after the leakage of potentially toxic slurry that has turned the ocean red.Map locating Chinese-owned Ramu nickel refinery from where a potentially toxic slurry leaked into the ocean on August 24

The Mineral Resources Authority said on Thursday it had cordoned off a portion of Basamuk Bay in the north of the country, while emergency tests are carried out to determine the scale of environmental damage.

The water and coastline were dyed ochre red by the slurry, which is said to have overflowed from tanks at the Ramu Nickel refinery for almost an hour.

The multibillion facility is run by the state-owned China Metallurgical Group, which mines and processes nickel, a metal widely used in batteries, including in electric cars.

The Mineral Resources Authority said it had moved to “prevent villagers from going near or fishing within the affected area” while investigations “determine the nature of the slurry, including toxicity, pH” and whether heavy elements were discharged.

The incident is believed to have taken place at 4:30am on Saturday, but was not reported until the afternoon.

Officials finally reached the site on Monday and they have now been joined by Mining Minister Johnson Tuke.

The probe will “establish any procedural failures on the part of the operator and necessary remedial measures will be imposed”, the authority said.

“In the meantime, we are placing our efforts in safeguarding the local communities as our priority.”

The mine and processing plant have been deeply controversial since their inception.

The project was commissioned in 2012 and had been delayed for almost two years by a legal challenge that ended in the Supreme Court.

Local landowners had tried to block the project because waste from the plant is dumped in the ocean rather than landfill — so-called “deep sea tailings placement”.

During a meeting in Beijing last week, the China Metallurgical Group asked visiting Papua New Guinea officials to approve plans to expand production capacity.

It was not immediately clear what caused the spill, with reports that slurry pumps or a pipe may have failed.

The local provincial governor Peter Yama has called for the ministry of environment rather than the Mineral Resources Authority to take the investigative lead.

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