Tag Archives: Basamuk refinery

Madang Govt Sues Ramu Nico For K18b

Post Courier | February 6, 2020

The Madang provincial government and 13 landowners have sued Chinese company Ramu Nico for damages worth K18 billion and K1.6 million as special damages to be settled 30 days from today.

Lawyer representing the provincial government Ben Lomai said yesterday that based on the final report carried out by international scientists engaged by the government, the case has been granted and a writ of summons will be served on Ramu Nico today.

There are about 13 plaintiffs who have signed on behalf of 7968 officers taking the company to court including the provincial government. This included Wadan Namui on behalf of 52 named persons from Astrolabe and Rai Coast, Kaimalang Moses for himself and on behalf of 425 named persons from Rai Coast, Peter Sel on behalf of himself and 122 named persons from Rai Coast, Barthly Andrew for himself and on behalf of 230 named persons from Rai Coast, Micha Wasa Kosi on behalf of 348 per- sons from Rai Coast, Asru Masil on behalf of 82 people of Rai Coast, Willie Mathew on behalf of 71 persons, Sauma Hangi on behalf of 77 people, John Simoi on behalf of 389 persons of Sumkar, Michael Barui on behalf of 1398 people of Sumkar, Henry Amath on behalf of 1233 people of Sumkar, Steven Aren on behalf of 510 people of Sumkar and Kautil Mamari on behalf of 373 people of Sumkar.

The plaintiffs and the people they represent are asking the court to make:

a) A declaration that the Defendant committed public nuisance;

b) A declaration that the Defendant committed private nuisance;

c) A declaration that the Defendant is strictly liable for its conduct by continuously dumping of the tailings and other mine waste into Basamuk and Astralobe Bay: and

d) A declaration that the Defendant committed negligence

Mr Lomai said that they will be asking the court to make a declaration that the continuous activity by the Defendant, particularly the dumping of tailings and waste into Astrolabe and Basamuk bays by the use of a chemical, DSTP which was in breach of the Environmental Act 2000 and was therefore unlawful.

The court will also be asked to order the current DSTP located offshore from Basamuk Refinery be relocated back inland to a designated area within the SML, subject to proper environmental, engineering and design and construction recommendations. Other orders sought are:

  • An order that the permanent injunction restraining the Defendant by itself, its servants or agents or otherwise, from committing the said nuisance and negligence and to injure the Plaintiffs and the people they represent in their use and enjoyment of their customary land and water rights that a permanent injunction restraining the Defendant from destroying the offshore environment in any way and from dumping waste and tailings into Astrolabe and Basamuk Bays in accordance with the Ramu Nickel Environmental Plan 1999 Approval or at all;
  • A declaration that the Plaintiffs’ rights to the use and enjoyment of their customary land and water rights and the rights of the people they represent, have been breached and that they have suffered as a direct consequence of the Defendant’s dumping of tailings and toxic waste activity by the use of DSTP, the Refinery dusts and fumes as well as the slurry spillage;
  • An order that the Defendant compensate and or pay damages to the Plaintiffs and the people they represent in the sum of K18 billion and alternatively, such compensatory damages referred to paragraph 690) be assessed;
  • An order that the Defendant and the Madang province government in consultation with CEPA and MRA, within 30 days from the date of this, order, take remedial steps to clean the environment that had been contaminated by the activity of the Defendant and that such remediation costs, to be properly assessed by remedial experts, shall be paid by the Defendant; and
  • An order that the Defendant pay the Madang provincial government K1.6 million as special damages forthwith.

MCC yesterday was contacted but they advised Post-Courier that they have not been served the court injunction but are prepared to counter the case.

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Second Phase Of Ramu Investigation To Be Done, Says Environment Minister

Melisha Yafoi | Post Courier | January 15, 2020

Minister for Environment and Conservation Wera Mori says they will leave no stone unturned with regards to the Basamuk slurry spillage last year.

He said they will be conducting more studies along the coastline in Madang to ensure that there is no environmental damage done following this slurry spill from the Ramu nickle and cobalt project.

He said they will be looking into all the drainage system into the Astrolabe Bay as far as Matukar on the North Coast all the way to Saidor in Rai Coast district of Madang province.

“We will also do strategic fishing right across the island up to Karkar and back and we will do a thematic mapping to show the distribution of the fish so we can contrast back to the permits,” he said.

“For the second phase, as soon as we get the funding for from Treasury we will roll it out but we want to do it this month.”

Mr Mori said CEPA is done with the reconnaissance stage.

“Now that we know what we want to arrive at, the next program will be designed to achieve that outcome and that’s what’s going to happen in the second phase.”

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Mori Reassures That Madang Waters Are Safe

Melisha Yafoi | Post Courier | January 15, 2020

Residents of Madang Province, especially those living along the coastline, can now eat fish and use the sea.

Minister for Environment and Conservation Wera Mori yesterday gave the clearance following an investigation done by the office of Conservation and Environment Protection Authority.

He said the waters are safe for use as elements tested were below detection limit. This was after the slurry spillage which has occurred in August last year.

Mr Mori said CEPA is contrasting and comparing the preliminary results of their investigation to the baseline studies that has been done in the past and will give what will be the allowable permits that was granted by environment and conservation for the operations of Ramu nickle project.

He said the reconnaissance has been done and the sampling has been taken especially on the quality of water, immediately around Basamuk as well as areas into the bay have shown that most of the results are below the detection limit.

“The elements that were tested included arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead, manganese, mercury, nickel, selenium, silver and zinc.

The results returned showed that all of them were below what was allowable in the permits,” he said.

“Being a nickel mine, you would expect a very high elevated reading of nickel. What was allowed under the permit was 1000 parts per million of nickel,” he said.

“However, the test in the water quality taken in December taken by the independent team showed that it returned a range of results ranging from 0.5 parts per million to 17.2 parts per million which is far less than the expected permits allowable under the operations of the nickel mine.”

Mr Mori said the fish in the waters of Madang are safe and urged the people of people of Madang to go back and live their normal lives.

He said another part of the investigation will be looking at fish tissues however for fish tissues people must be able to understand and appreciate that the environment of which those marine organisms especially fish caught around waters concerned are located around an area of high geo tectonic activities.

“We are expected to find elevated readings of some of the elements that we know and are being testing but we are going to contrast that back once again to the allowable limits which are specified in the permits that were done before the permitting of the mine,” Mr Mori said.

“These results when ready will come in place and we will inform the people through parliament for the next month.”

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Aust Contractor To Back Govt-Sanctioned Probe Into Ramu Mine Spill

Post Courier | December 9, 2019

A Government-sanctioned investigation into the Basamuk slurry spill incident in Madang will be undertaken as a highly integrated multi-disciplinary study approach.

Environment Conservation and Climate Change Minister Wera Mori said this before leaving PNG for the global climate change conference, the Conference of Parties (COP) 25 in Madrid, Spain yesterday.

He gave a briefing on the spill incident indicating government’s total and utmost commitment towards addressing the issue.

He said the study objective now is to obtain all necessary information and data for a well informed decision to be made regarding the spill based on conclusive scientific evidence as “science does not lie.”

Mori said an initial investigation done by the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) indicated no pollution, but because of the widespread outcry and a contradicting report by an investigation done by a Dr Alex Mojon engaged by the Madang provincial government, the national government has now taken a further step to address the issue.

He said Cabinet has already approved for a comprehensive investigation, and BMT Eastern Australia Pty Ltd has been contracted to support the investigation as it is a leading international multi-disciplinary engineering, science and technology consultancy firm offering a broad range of services in the environment, energy, shipping, ports and defense sectors.

“The Water and Environment Group of BMT is recognised as one of Australia’s premier environmental consultants and they operate across the five continents in over 30 countries.

“We are getting them on board so that there is credibility in the investigation that will be conducted.

“It will be extensive, and with support from our CEPA technical officers, they have already conducted the first phase which is the reconnaissance trip or sampling plan trip.

“The second trip is sampling plan implementation or sampling, and this will be done after the New Year where all parties will be involved including representatives from the Madang provincial government so that samplings are done accurately and cannot be compromised,” Mr Mori said.

He said all parties including independent investigators, experts and a team from the Madang provincial government will also be part of the sampling.

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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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