Tag Archives: fisheries

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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Basamuk Spill Poisonous, Scientists Claim

Gorethy Kenneth | Post Courier | November 4, 2019

International scientists engaged by the Madang provincial government claimed last Friday that they have data to prove that the Basamuk spill was poisonous to the people of Madang.

And they further claimed that the chemical spill by miner Ramu Nico at Basamuk was dangerous and would take four to five years for the sea to get back to what it was. They have also claimed that their scientific laboratory results of a sample test of a dead dolphin in Rai Coast had confirmed the heavy presence of chemicals.

And that all fish species, algae and plants death, were due to the heavy metals laden slurry spill which included mercury, zinc, magnese, cromium and others were all dangerous heavy metals found in the tissues, soils and waters samples collected and tested in the Netherlands and Germany.

A team of 12 scientists, technicians and administration staff from the Swiss Association for Quality and Environment Management (SVQ), Scientific and Administrative team involved in the environmental assessment in regard of the RamuNiCo Mining and Processing Activities in Madang Province led by Dr Alex Mojon are now in Madang to further test new areas in the Basamuk Bay.

They are Dr Mojon as the head of the group, chief coordinator Maila Savaliuk, Professor Dr Peter Felix-Henningsen, Dr Daniel Weber, Dr Iwe Hiester, Dr Jurii Zavgorodney, Arnold Springer, Oleskly Kuwakin, Heinz Ihne, Chemist Thomas Henneberger, Dr Ueli Augsburger, Walter Knapp and Partner company of SVQ Sir Jimmy Francis Hinch, the CEO of CJI General Construction, Batangas.

On Thursday a Madang provincial team and the scientists met with the Minister for Mining Johnson Tuke and Minister for Environment Geoffery Kama to further cement their resolve to come up with solutions that can be addressed across all levels of government.

At a press conference with media in Port Moresby Dr Mojon, accompanied by Madang Governor Peter Yama and administrator Joseph Kunda presented results including data and facts on the spill.

Dr Mojon said the results and interpretations were scientific data which were not focusing on any non-indented, intended or legal accuses in confront of the RamuNiCo – but they were a data bank which shall be the base for a further mutual cooperation with the National Government, national authorities as well as with the RamuNiCo.

Dr Mojon said the reflected data were a summary of field sampling (accordingly to ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and to the European Norms and Standards of Environmental Assessments) for the period of May until October 2019 (3 Assessments), and of chemical-physical analysis, executed by the German Certified and Accredited Görtler Analytical laboratory.

“The interpretations are reflecting the actual stand of understanding and findings. We need additional research on punctual matters to fortify the final balance of the assumed Environmental Impacts,” he said.

RamuNico executives told the Post-Courier they will seek legal advice from their lawyers before making any comments but assured they are ready for roundtable meetings with all stakeholders, the national government, scientists and Madang provincial administration and the leaders.

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Fisheries Authority Says Madang Seas Still ‘Unsafe’

Melisha Yafoi | Post Courier | October 25, 2019

Sea water and marine products in Madang Province are still not safe for public use and consumption, says the National Fisheries Authority (NFA).

NFA, in a statement yesterday, refuted claims by the management of multi-million kina Ramu Nickle [sic] project, now temporarily closed, that the sea waters and fish in the province were not contaminated.

The Ramu Nickel Mine management on Wednesday announced that several statutory bodies responsible for fisheries and environment in the country had cleared that sea waters, including the marine environment in Madang Province and the Basamuk areas of Rai Coast district were safe with no evidence of toxic elements found after the slurry spill on August 24.

The company also claimed that the clearance came after a meeting held by the Madang provincial government at which officials from the provincial fisheries authority confirmed that the sea waters and fish are safe due to no trace of any toxicity. The company further said the report was confirmed by Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) and the Minister for Environment and Conservation, Geoffery Kama.

All these claims were, however, refuted by NFA managing director John Kasu who slammed that as misleading and inaccurate.

Mr Kasu said NFA is aware of the slurry spill and is conducting an independent analysis following which a report would be made to the Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources to make public.

“Such statements are misleading and undermine the analysis National Fisheries Authority is currently undertaking,” he said.

“Any official statement with regard to the analysis undertaken by NFA will come from my office or from the Office of the Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources.”

He said the analysis on the samples taken from the affected area was still incomplete and, therefore, it was premature to make any conclusive statement at this stage. Prime Minister James Marape has supported the closure of the mine to allow for a review into its operations and prevent more mishaps or accidents.

“The fact that a spill occurred indicates default in the mine operation and infrastructure and no matter how small, the cost to life or environment, my government expects highest degree of safety in any mine and resource extraction,” Mr Marape said.

“We are asking for the operator to an earliest meeting and to allow a quick assessment to their operational and infrastructural security so that no incident of any sort happens like this one into the future.”

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Opposition will ‘not let up’ to planned seabed mining in Philippines

Opposition to seabed mining in the archipelagic Philippine province of Romblon … led by local anti-groups such as REFAM … Image: Rachel Llorca/UST

Rachel E. Llorca | Asia Pacific Report | June 7, 2017  

Fishermen from the archipelagic province of Romblon in the Philippines are opposed to planned’ experimental’ sea mining ventures in the area amid fears it will destroy their livelihoods.

One of these fishermen is 55-year-old Agosto Rivera. Fishing is his livelihood, with the fish nets and blue sea of Odiongan Bay –- part of Tablas Island –- his constant companion for 43 years.

With a PHP300 (NZD$8) daily bounty from fishing, and sometimes a PHP5000 (NZD$140) commission when doing deep sea fishing, the sea has been the lifeblood of Rivera’s wife and 10 children.

But Rivera’s livelihood, and that of the estimated 1390 fisher folk in Odiongan Bay, is said to be in danger. Rivera’s fears are echoed by local government leaders and cause-oriented citizens (known locally as Romblomanons) who are wary of prospective deep sea mining operations that the firm Asian Palladium Mineral Resources, Inc. wants to conduct in Romblon’s Tablas Strait.

The lure is palladium, a rare, malleable and ductile metal that can be used as petroleum or as a material for specialized alloys or pieces of jewelry. “Very few countries have deposits of palladium,” the company’s geologist, Louie Santos, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer in June 2016.

To get to Tablas Strait’s palladium, however, Asian Palladium must conduct deep sea mining across a 10.6ha area. This comes after Asian Palladium secured a 25-year Financial and/or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTTA) from the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

But as Asian Palladium is waiting for the Mines and Geosciences Bureau’s approval to its FTTA application, Romblomanons continue to reject the company’s plans for deep sea mining in the area, which began more than a year ago.

No mining allowed

Romblomanons’ opposition came towards the end of the term of former Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino III in May 2016 when Asian Palladium applied for the FTTA. Upon the assumption of Rodrigo Duterte as president on June 30, 2016, then environment secretary Regina Paz Lopez promised the local government of Odiongan that no mining, including that of Asian Palladium, “will be allowed.”

Lopez ordered the closure and suspension of identified mining companies across the country after assessment teams reportedly found hazards in these firms mining operations. But the Philippine legislature’s Commission on Appointments bypassed Lopez’s appointment thrice, and she was replaced by former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Roy Cimatu.

It is such moves which have invigorated local anti-mining groups, such as the Romblon Ecumenical Forum Against Mining (REFAM), as closed or suspended companies remain poised for a reversal of Lopez’s orders.

“We will not let up in our advocacy,” says REFAM’s Sherryll Fetalvero.

Fetalvero, who is also a professor with Romblon State University, says the group has been “guarding” the province from mining projects.

“The strength of Romblon is the vigilance of the people.”

Some 127,853 signatures –- three-fourths of the province’s voting population –- have been collected from residents of Romblon province during anti-mining signature campaigns in the past. REFAM has also pushed for 125 anti-mining resolutions by local government officials, in the face of no province-wide environment act.

Mining opposition in Romblon is strong … 127,853 signatures. Image: Rachel Llorca/UST

Long-standing opposition

Current protest in Romblon is not the first time the province has opposed mining operations.

Eight years ago, Altai Philippines Mining Corporation was given a cease-and-desist order by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau for its planned metallic mining operations in Romblon’s Sibuyan Island, said to be rich in gold. This came after rising levels of atmospheric mercury were discovered by residents on the island.

In 2011, residents also protested against Ivanhoe Philippines, Inc., which applied for government permission to explore minerals in Tablas Island. Residents’ protest against Ivanhoe spanned nine months from January to September and was regarded as the shortest anti-mining campaign in the Philippines by civil society groups. Ivanhoe subsequently withdrew its exploration permit application on September 30, 2011.

Long-standing opposition in Romblon is not the first anti-mining advocates have asserted doubts on the safety of deep sea mining.

Deep sea mining in Papua New Guinea from 2011 to 2014 by Canadian firm Nautilus Minerals was halted following large protest by Papuans led by advocacy groups Bismarck Ramu and the Ocean Foundation’s deep sea mining campaign. The company subsequently removed its ships as its former seabed mining project – Solwara 1 – was referred to as an “experiment” by critics.

As to the mining firms trying to seek permission and operate in Romblon, however, Fetalvero says REFAM has a “tried-and-tested formula” to beat the firms as anti-mining messages continue to be promoted across the province.

“We stop mining companies by making sure they will not be able to get a certificate of publication from the towns of Romblon. That way, we will be able to question the technicalities of an approval by the DENR.”

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NZ seafood companies, iwi slam EPA over seabed mining application

Undercurrent News | May 16, 2017

Seafood companies have slammed the New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) handling of the application to mine for 35 years 50 million metric tons of iron sand from the ocean floor off the coast of Taranaki.

The application by Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) is opposed by Fisheries Inshore New Zealand, the New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen, Talley’s Group, Southern Inshore Fisheries Management, and Cloudy Bay Clams.

A range of environmental groups have also submitted opposition to the bid.

TTR’s first application was refused in June 2014 after a decision-making committee appointed by the EPA found the application was premature and more time should have been taken to understand the proposed operation, its effects on the receiving environment and existing interests.

“TTR’s latest application is almost identical to the first, and does not address the EPA’s key reasons for refusing TTR consent in 2014,” Fisheries Inshore New Zealand’s chief executive, Jeremy Helson, said.

“TTR‘s 2014 application was refused due to inadequate information, and adverse effects on the environment and existing economic activity. It is hard to understand why the EPA allowed TTR to resubmit a largely unchanged application,” Helson added.

TTR’s latest application, lodged with the EPA in August 2016, has been dogged with controversy from the start, as the TTR sought to withhold information on the effects of the sediment plume from the public for reasons of commercial sensitivity, said the release.

The EPA’s decision to approve this withholding of information was overturned by the Environment Court, on the application of the seafood industry, iwi and environmental groups.

TTR has a responsibility to provide robust information to support its application. Its  failure to do so has seen the EPA directing those opposing the application to fill in the gaps, said the complainants.

“The extension of the process and continued re-submission of evidence has resulted in submitters incurring unreasonable costs to address the deficiencies in TTR’s application.”

The hearing began in February and was initially to have ended on April 12. Instead the EPA extended the hearing to May 31 to address further questions concerning the information provided by TTR in support of its application.

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Fiji villagers claim mine spill destroying fishing grounds

Shalend Prasad points at a water outlet from the bauxite mine alleged by members of the public to be waste water from sediment ponds within the mine. Picture: LUKE RAWALAI

Luke Rawalai | Fiji Times | March 20, 2017

PEOPLE in Nasarawaqa, Bua and those living along the Dreketi River claim the decline in marine resources around the area is due to spillage of waste water from the bauxite mining in Naibulu, Dreketi.

Sasake villager Apisalome Tumuri claimed that the spill off from the mine during heavy rain forced marine life out from the area to the deep sea.

The 52-year-old fisherman claims there had been a lot of changes in their fishing ground since mining began in nearby Naibulu, Dreketi.

Mr Tumuri said fish, crabs and bech-de-mer had begun disappearing from their fishing grounds during the past three years. He said in the past, villagers could pick shellfish and fetch mud crabs from nearby mangroves.

He said they now had to go out into the open sea to get these.

Dreketi resident Losana Lomani said the Dreketi River had turned red last week after heavy rain was experienced in the area.

Ms Lomani said they learnt that the muddy water originated from the mining site and that women in the area found it hard to find freshwater mussels in the river.

XINFA Aurum Exploration Fiji Ltd’s senior officer Sang Lei said the muddy water witnessed by villagers was normal rain run-off from land.

Mr Lei said all waste water from the mine was contained in the sediment pond at the mine and that none had seeped into the waterways as claimed.

Responding to queries, permanent secretary for Lands and Mineral Resources Ministry Malakai Finau said it was normal for the sea to turn muddy during heavy rain.

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