Tag Archives: DSTP

Chinese owned Mining Company in PNG faces Two Possible Lawsuits

NBC News / PNG Today | November 05, 2019

The Chinese operated  Ramu Nickel Mine in Madang Province, Papua New Guinea  will be facing two possible lawsuits.

Madang Governor Peter Yama says one will be taken up by close to one thousand landowners from the impacted communities of Raicoast District – who had taken the Company to Court in 2011 over fears of pollution from the ‘Deep Sea tailings Placement’ (DSTP) as a result of the mine’s operations.

The Court at the time had ruled in favour of the Company saying there was ‘no evidence that the DSTP’ would cause damage to the marine environment and so the project was given the ‘green light’ to commence operations.

Mr. Yama says the Company at the time was also ordered by the Court to provide quarterly reports of their operations to the Provincial Government and landowners but have failed to do so, since then – breaching Court orders.

He says with the evidence now, this case will be taken up again, adding the second case will be taken up by the Provincial Government for environmental damage.

Meantime, the absence of legislation on the usage of ‘Deep sea mine tailings’ (DSTP) in the country is raising serious concerns amongst affected communities.

Villagers in the communities of Raicoast district, Madang Province currently affected by the Ramu Nickel Mine’s Basamuk spill say the National Government has been ignorant of this very important policy that would have stopped or mitigated the effects of the DSTP employed by the Company.

The Company which uses the DSTP to dispose of its mine wastes into the sea has reportedly been releasing 1700 litres of toxic waste into the ocean per hour, amounting to 14.2 million litres annually for fifteen years now.

A recent 200-000 litres of toxic spill from the mine is alleged to have poisoned fish, prompting a ban in the Province.

Local, Thomas Warr says, it’s negligence on the Government’s part, to allow the Company to operate using the DSTP for its waste disposal when there’s no law to guide how they carry that out.

“If they cannot remove the DSTP –then stop the mine.

“It’s very late for the Government to come now and tell us there is no law to guide this DSTP – they must now look at coming up with a law on DSTP, Mr. Warr said.

Department of Justice and Attorney General Dr. Eric Kwa at the recently concluded ‘Ocean Policy forum’ says the PNG National Oceans Policy to be presented to the National Executive Council by the end of this year and expected to come into effect by 2020 will address some of this current issues including Ocean pollution among others.

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Chinese-owned Ramu nickel plant in PNG shut down after toxic slurry spill

PHOTO: The spill on August 24 turned the water in Basamuk Bay bright red and stained the shoreline. (Supplied: Nigel Uyam)

Key points:

  • The plant will remain closed until the Chinese operator fixes several issues
  • It spilled around 80,000 litres of slurry, turning the bay bright red
  • Tests on the environmental damage have given mixed results

Bethanie Harriman | Pacific Beat | ABC News |25 October 2019

Papua New Guinean authorities have shut down a Chinese-owned nickel processing plant for breaching safety and mining laws, after the operator spilled tens of thousands of litres of toxic slurry into a bay in August.

PNG’s Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) chose to take punitive action against the Ramu Nico plant, which is majority owned by the Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC), after it failed to fix problems the authority identified while investigating the spill.

These included incompetency among operators at the plant in PNG’s Madang province, problems with the spillage containment system, and inadequate equipment maintenance.

The authority said the processing facility would not be permitted to reopen until these issues were fixed — effectively halting all of Ramu Nico’s mining operations for the time being.

“They were given sixteen recommendations to rectify, and apparently six weeks down the line, we found that the operator has failed,” MRA managing director Jerry Garry said.

PHOTO: Two reports into the environmental impact of the spill have turned up conflicting results. (Supplied: Nigel Uyam)

On August 24, a pump failure at the mine’s Basamuk Bay processing plant saw about 200,000 litres of toxic slurry spill out, with up to 80,000 litres making its way into the ocean — turning the water bright red, and staining the nearby shoreline.

While local officials have banned the sale of fish caught in the province following the spill, investigations into the resulting environmental damage have turned back markedly different results.

One scientific report commissioned by the provincial government said there was evidence of widespread contamination, however PNG’s environmental authority has said it found heavy metal contamination was within acceptable levels.

‘They didn’t think of our lives’

A spokesman for the nickel mine’s Chinese operator confirmed the shutdown order, and said the company was considering its legal options, Reuters reported.

Ramu Nico has previously apologised for the slurry spill, but has denied it caused any serious environmental damage.

PHOTO: The Ramu Nico mining operation has been subject to several controversies over the years. (Facebook: Kessy Sawang, file)

While local villagers were happy to hear of the Ramu Nico closure, they told the ABC’s Pacific Beat program they didn’t think it went far enough, and called on the PNG Government to slap heavy penalties on the company.

Louis Medaing, whose village is near the nickel processing plant, said the facility should have been closed straight after the spill, which some in the community have linked to health problems and fish kills.

“They didn’t think of our lives, the Government has now realised and ordered the mine to be closed,” he said.

“That refinery must not open until everything is sorted out, everything is settled.”

The temporary closure is the latest in a string of controversies for the $2 billion Ramu Nico mining operation, which was China’s first major resource project in Papua New Guinea when it opened in 2012.

Landowners had fought a legal battle to prevent the mine from disposing of its tailings in the ocean via a deep-sea pipeline, however this failed in the courts in 2010.

Plaintiffs in the case chose to fire their lawyer and abandon proceedings, a decision National Court Justice David Cannings said was “to a degree, suspicious”.

He said “reasonable people” would question whether the plaintiffs had been intimidated, threatened or paid off.

There have also been fights between local staff and Chinese workers in the past, as well as attacks on the facilities, earlier slurry leaks, and one fatal workplace accident in 2016 that saw the mine temporarily closed.

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MPs Query Basamuk Spillage

Simon Keslep | Post Courier | October 15, 2019

The Basamuk slurry spillage was again raised in Parliament last week Friday by three Members of Parliament.

Tewai-Siassi MP Dr Kobie Bomareo asked if marine life is affected and the wider effects alleged to have reached as far afield as Bogia and even parts of his district in Morobe province who share the sea border with Rai Coast (Madang).

“There are reports that marine life is affected in the sea and I have heard that this is spreading to Bogia too.

“Can the Minister (Environment and Climate Change) inform us in this House (Parliament) and the people of Madang and Morobe on the latest approach his ministry is doing to address this matter?” asked Dr Bomareo.

Minister for Environment and Climate Change Geoffrey Kama in his response said whatever marine destruction that happened in Dr Bomareo’s district is outside of Basamuk. The minister said the spillage at Basamuk which included the raw material from Kurumbukari caused by tank blockage that overflowed about 200,000 litres of raw material.

“Sixty per cent of the spillage went into the tank and 40 per cent flowed into the sea.

“The colour of the sea is something new to the people which they have not seen in their life. At that time we sent out officers to collect samples and send it down to Brisbane, Australia for testing,” said the Minister.

Mr. Kama said it took 15 days for the results to come back and now they have asked a local expert to check and interpret the results.

“We will get the interpretation and inform the people.

“I want to make it clear to this parliament, the people of Basamuk and wider Madang that test shows there is no major destruction occurring but rather change of sea colour. Next week in Parliament, I will read out the result to everyone,” said Mr Kama.

“There are evidences of fish, dogs and animals dying. The minister must explain well on this,” queries Wewak MP Kevin Isufu.

Minister reverts saying it is important to establish facts given there are investors in Madang and everyone (MPs) must abide by law.

“However Ijivitari MP Richard Masere said the minister has the responsibility to the people and if we are unsure then it shows a lot of gaps that we are unaware of. “There needs to be a formal statement on this issue.

If there is already threats to our people then what actions will the minister take to ensure we put a stop or temporary suspension on the mine.

“Until a formal investigation is taking place and we understand fully the implications of these spill will cause… These spill will have detrimental effects into the future, our children may be born with defects’,” said Mr Masere.

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Chinese Owned Ramu NICO brushes aside Basamuk report

NBC News / PNG Today | 12 October, 2019

The Chinese owned Ramu Nickel company who is developing the Ramu Nickel Project in Madang has brushed aside the scientific findings of the Switzerland scientist who was engaged by the Madang Provincial Government to carry out an investigation into the Basamuk Spillage.

Swiss-based scientist, Dr Alex Mojon, whom the Ramu Nickel Company described as a self- proclaimed scientist, revealed his findings on Wednesday this week in Port Moresby.

The company said Dr Mojon’s investigation was not authorized by the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) – the regulated government body to conduct such investigations.

Dr. Mojon was engaged by the Madang Government following recent reports of dead fish being discovered in Madang waters and people developing complications after allegedly eating contaminated fish and swimming in the sea.

Findings by Dr Mojon revealed that Basamuk has suffered extensive pollution over the years, as a result of Ramu Nickel Mine carelessly dumping its wastes into the Basamuk Bay over the years.

However, Ramu Nickel says it will only accept the officially sanctioned report from the CEPA investigation.

The company also says it doubts whether the scientific report and Madang Provincial Government’s engagement are independent in nature.

A statement from the company states that the Swiss Report may be independent for the Madang Government but not for Ramu Nickel and they will out rightly ignore the findings.

Ramu NiCo is also asking CEPA and other government authorities to confirm if the Swiss scientist was authorised to collect samples and produce – what it says is a ‘damaging report’ towards a genuine foreign investor.

The Company also said it was not consulted by the Swiss scientist before visiting Basamuk to collect samples of dead fish, water, sand and pebbles for testing.

Meantime, Minister for Environment and Conservation Geoffrey Kama told NBC News, the report into the ‘Basamuk spillage’ by CEPA will be presented in Parliament next week.

Mr. Kama says the National Executive Council has already approved the report.

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PNG Govt says, no damages to Marine Life despite slurry spill by Ramu Nickel Mine

 PNG Mining News | 11 October 2019

Papua New Guinea government has denied poisioning [sic] of marine life in Madang’s Basamuk area despite slurry spill by Ramu Nickel Mine. PNG’s Minister for Environment and Conservation Geoffrey Kama has finally revealed that the government investigation into the slurry spill by the Ramu Nickel Mine has found there was no major damage to the sea and surrounding environment.

Mr Kama told Parliament this morning, the CEPA report consists of samples sent to Brisbane Australia for testing.

After two weeks the results were sent back and further verified.

The environment Minister says their report, approved by NEC, now reveals there is no major pollution caused by the spill, and that the color change in sea water should not be a concern, it’s just a color change.

Obviously this did not go down well with several Members of Parliament who stood with point of orders demanding the Minister to explain why the CEPA report reveals no damage when there are evidence of fish dying in surrounding communities.

Member for South Fly,Seki Agisa, questioned on a recent finding released just this week by international scientists engaged by the Madang Provincial Government who found evidences of toxic contamination in samples of water, soil and plants.

The South Fly MP, asked if the government can cross check with this independent report.

But the Environment Minister refused to give clarity standing firm on the report produced by CEPA that there are no major damage caused by the slurry spill last month.

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How do miners dispose of their waste in the sea?

MCC’s Basamuk Refinery in Madang pumps waste from the Ramu mine directly into the ocean

Melanie Burton | Reuters | October 11, 2019

Sea disposal of mining waste could spread as Indonesia weighs adopting the technique for new nickel projects, as Papua New Guinea is doing for a gold mine proposed by Australia’s Newcrest Mining.

The management of mining waste has drawn attention since two dam disasters in Brazil, and after red mud spilled into Papua New Guinea’s Basamuk Bay from Ramu Nickel’s operations in August.

An expert in chemical contamination has called test results from the Ramu Nickel spill “alarming,” media said this week. That spill resulted from an operational failure, however, rather than an issue with tailings management.

Proponents say deep sea tailings placement, which pipes unwanted pulverized rock into the sea, is cheaper and less harmful, especially on tropical islands where earthquakes or heavy rain limit storage on land, near deep sea trenches.

Critics say the impact of such marine disposal is poorly understood.

Fewer than 20 of the world’s 2,500 mines use the method to dispose of tailings waste, comprising rock, microscopic unwanted metals and traces of processing agents, such as cyanide.

Here are answers to some common questions, drawn from two research papers by Australia’s science bureau, the CSIRO.

WHAT IS DEEP SEA TAILINGS PLACEMENT?

Mining waste goes down a pipe 100 m (328 ft) or more offshore designed to sink rapidly to even greater depths, such as those off the continental shelf. The waste settles on parts of the ocean floor believed to be home to few creatures.

That keeps the waste out of the ocean’s most productive surface layer, where sunlight drives photosynthesis, and sealife is most abundant.

After the mine has closed, advocates say the deposit area will gradually be recolonised by the marine life and bacteria that were there before, as they now move back from surrounding areas.

WHEN WAS IT FIRST USED?

The first commercial use of deep sea tailings placement was at the Island Copper mine on Canada’s Vancouver Island in 1971 to 1996. Industry regarded that as a success, though it was also found to have affected the lake’s biodiversity. Some other early mines, such as Greenland’s Black Angel lead and zinc mine, however, contaminated surrounding water bodies.

WHERE IS DSTP USED NOW?

  • The Lihir gold mine in PNG run by Newcrest Mining. The Melbourne-based miner also proposed DSTP for its Wafi Golpu project with South Africa’s Harmony Gold.
  • The Simberi gold mine operated by Australian miner St. Barbara in PNG’s New Ireland province.
  • The Ramu nickel mine and plant run by Metallurgical Corporation of China in PNG’s Madang Province.
  • Batu Hijau, Indonesia’s second largest copper mine, run by PT Amman Mineral Nusa Tenggara.
  • Australia’s Kingston Resources is considering reopening PNG’s Misima gold mine and using DSTP.

WHAT ARE THE ISSUES?

ECOLOGICAL DIVERSITY: A quarter of the world’s coral reefs faced rising exposure to sediments and nutrients, boosting stress from climate change and ocean acidification, Australia’s science agency said in 2016. Greater sediment could smother coral or choke off sunlight or oxygen, it said.

SUSPENSION: Fine dust or metal particles remain suspended in the ocean instead of settling on the sea floor. They can “shear off” in plumes, widely dispersed by ocean currents, and travel between layers of varying salinity or temperature.

The impact on marine life is not fully understood, but coral near the Lihir tailings disposal site suffered a “substantial impact,” according to the paper.

Plankton could be trapped in suspended solids and fine particles could clog the gills of fish, it added.

MIGRATION: Marine animals could carry trace elements of mine waste into the food supply chain after ingesting them and then moving to shallow waters from the deep ocean.

DEEP SEA: Wider use of DTSP could affect deepwater canyons and abyssal or underwater plains that are high in biodiversity, according to the research.

RECOLONISATION: Ocean warming and acidification could hamper efforts to recolonise a DTSP area, it added. (Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Darren Schuettler)

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Wafi-Golpu selling idea marine waste dumping safe

Erebiri Zurenuoc | The National aka The Loggers Times | April 26, 2019

THE awareness on deep-sea tailing placement (DSTP) by the Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture team provided vital information for the people, says Labuta Local Level Government president Tups Waho.

Waho of Nawaeb district in Morobe said the awareness had been allowing people share their views on the project.

“The future of Labuta lies in the five-year development plan which must be captured in the proposed mining development plan,” Waho said.

“Two of the important impact projects covered in the five-year development plan are fisheries and eco-tourism because ward one to ward 13 are in the coast.

“There are a lot of fishing communities, and many locals use fishing as the means to generate income, and as a protein for their food.”

Labuta said people were still concerned about chemicals from the DSTP which might harm them.

DSTP engagement leader Andy Maie told Talec villagers tailings would only be harmful once it came into contact with air. “Our two-year study show that the deep-sea in the Huon Gulf peninsula is suitable for the proposed tailings displacement at depths of more than 200 metres,” he said.

“There is no risk of current upwelling and no fish life living beyond that 200-metre depth,” he said.

“The discharge will flow into the Markham canyon, to join the sediment discharge from the Markham and Busu rivers that flow towards the 9km deep New Britain trench.

“There are plans for monitoring stations to assess the sediment flows from rivers, monitoring of the ocean currents, fish sampling, water quality, and other studies.”

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