Tag Archives: Fly river

MP wants mines to learn from Ok Tedi’s history of pollution

Will the mighty Sepik River end up a “dead river” like her sister, the Fly?

The National aka The Loggers Times | February 1, 2019

NORTH Fly MP James Donald says the pollution of the Fly River by Ok Tedi mine should be a lesson for other mines in the country.

He called for a review of the Porgera Gold Mine because the mine was contributing to pollution.

Donald said with huge pollution issues facing the province, the experience of Ok Tedi and Fly River should be a lesson for other mines like the Frieda mine project whose operation can affect the Sepik River.

Donald said to put his grievance on record, the Conversation Environment Protection Agency (formerly the Department of Environment and Conservation) had been “very weak”.

He said record showed that issues of the people were never handled.

Donald said the people of Western were being affected by the activities of Ok Tedi and Porgera mines, therefore there was a need to review the Porgera mine operations because it was affecting the Fly River.

“People are really affected and how can you allow us to be affected by two mines like these? We have to review Porgera also because we are feeling the pain of the damage caused by the two mines,” he said.

NCD Governor Powes Parkop said dumping mine waste into the river system is only practised in PNG.

“No other country practises them, not even in the US, in Europe or Australia but here we allow that to happen. Are we less human in allowing mining companies to dump their sediments and waste into the river systems?

“We must continue to invest in tailing dams, we can‘t continue to dump tailings into the river.”

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Govt, BHP blamed for damage to Fly River

The Fly River is a “dead river” according to the World Bank

The National aka The Loggers Times | January 31, 2019

THE Government and BHP should be equally responsible for the damage to the Fly River as the result of the Ok Tedi mine, a former mining minister says.

Former mining minister and South Bougainville MP Sam Akotai thanked Minister for Environment and Conservation John Pundari for tabling a bill in respect to environment population.

He said the Act would put Ok Tedi on par with all the environment protection laws and practices with other mines operating in the country.

Akotai said the Act would also give confidence to other mines that the Government was not biased with its operations and conducts in respect to the environmental issues in Ok Tedi.

Akotai said he had experience in the industry for well over 18 years and was qualified to make such statements while Ok Tedi mine brought a lot of revenue for the country.

He said the developer, BHP Ltd, owned the mine but it was in partnership with the government and while there was a lot of talks on the damage in Western, both BHP and the national government needed to be squarely responsible for the damage.

He said damage done to the Fly River and its inhabitants was irreplaceable, with the river being described as a “dead river”.

“It is one of the biggest damages ever, and many times we are happy to receive revenues but we have a population who are faced with the situation where the river is already dead,” he said.

“A World Bank report says Fly River is a dead river. After the mine closes, the people of Western living along the Fly River will face the problem for more than 200 years.

“However, the good news was that the new Act would at least control the operation of the mine and the deposit of the waste of the mine.”

Akotai said waste from the Porgera gold mine in Enga was also washed down to the Strickland River which eventually connects the Fly River that added more to the level of damage.

“That is why I’m sorry for our citizens living along the Fly River in Western,” he said.

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

BHP can be sued for damage: PM

BHP-Billiton-Logo

The National aka the Loggers Times | August 11, 2016
BHP Billiton can still be sued by landowners for environmental damage it has caused in Western through the Ok Tedi mine, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says.
He said that yesterday when answering a question from NCD Governor Powes Parkop on whether BHP could be sued.
Parkop said the “real culprit” behind all the environmental problems in Western was BHP.
“We must deal with BHP,” he said.
Parkop said in 1990, Western landowners, at their own cost, engaged scientists and lawyers and got a court decision for BHP to dredge the Ok Tedi and Fly rivers right down to the Great Barrier Reef.
He said BHP would have spent so much money on this – more than the long-term fund of the PNG Sustainable Development Programme – “but sadly, and to our shame, the government at that time passed the supplementary bill or act to give BHP immunity from prosecution and not to comply with that court order”.
“They then set up this PNGSD,” Parkop said.
“PNG Sustainable Development is intended to compensate our people, especially the people of Western province, but more particularly the exit plan of BHP.
“BHP is supposed to exit, but instead, they cleverly manipulated the trust deed to set up PNGSD and got the majority on the board.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Lessons from Ok Tedi and how corporations exploit science

ok-tedi-mine-children-tailings

Children playing in tailings downstream from the Ok Tedi Mine in Papua New Guinea, 2009. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

CBC Radio

Cultural Anthropologist Stuart Kirsch spent decades working with native peoples living along the ok Tedi River, in Papua New Guinea, trying to oppose the social and environmental threats posed by an enormous open-pit copper mine situated near the river’s source. He tells Paul Kennedy about what they learned in the process of taking on a multi-national mining giant; and what the people of PNG taught him.

Listen to the audio

“How is it possible that despite spending tens of millions of dollars on environmental research and monitoring, the consultants and other scientists employed by the Ok Tedi mine failed to predict the impending environmental catastrophe, or even to accurately report on it while it was occurring? Their failure calls into question the way science is deployed by mining companies, and by extension, how corporations strategically exploit science.”

The Ok Tedi copper mine in Papua New Guinea is at the centre of one of the worst environmental disasters in the world. Tailings from the mine have polluted the Ok Tedi River, and devastated a huge area of previously pristine and virgin jungle. People in the tribes who live along that river will never be the same. Their home was once a rich a verdant paradise. It now looks more like the surface of the moon. In a recent lecture at Memorial University of Newfoundland, anthropologist Stuart Kirsch discussed the questionable science that the mining industry uses to justify their destructive activities. 

Stuart Kirsh is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbour.  His book,Mining Capitalism: The Relationship Between Corporations and Their Critics, is published by the University of California Press. 

Panoramic view looking south to a point about 50 miles from the Ok Tedi River shows the tailings deposition far downstream

Panoramic view looking south to a point about 50 miles from the Ok Tedi River shows the tailings deposition far downstream

  

1 Comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Samarco could pay up to US$7.7 billion in damages

bhp brazil

Mike King | The Motley Fool

The mining company Samarco and its joint owners BHP Billiton Limited and Vale have agreed to pay the Brazilian government an estimated 10 billion reals (US$2.6 billion) in damages for the tailings dam collapse in November 2015. But the costs could spiral much higher.

Brazilian Attorney General Luís Inácio Adams speaking at a press conference with the country’s environment minister Izabella Teixeira said, “It could be as much as R$30 billion. We don’t know and no one knows how much is needed in repairs and compensation.”

The settlement was reached overnight, following the collapse of two tailings dams that killed 19 people, left hundreds of people homeless and polluted a major river. It is considered to be Brazil’s worst environmental disaster. Six Samarco executives and one contractor were arrest last week by Brazilian police and accused of murder in connection with the dam spill.

Tailings dams are designed to store much of the by-product produced by mining operations, but much of it can be toxic and include arsenic, lead and mercury. The dams are usually meant to store the mine runoff indefinitely, with the height of the dam walls gradually being increased over time as storage builds up. In some cases, severe rainfall or earthquakes can damage the tailings dam walls. The cause of the two tailings dams failing in Brazil has not yet been identified.

Samarco will pay 4.4 billion reals to a Foundation over the next three years to fund the clean up and pay for compensation, and then between 800 million and 1.6 billion (US$200 million to US$400 million) each year between 2019 and 2021.

240 million reals will be paid each year for 15 years for compensation projects (already included in the first six years contributions), plus a one-time payment of 500 million reals for basic sanitation in the affected areas.

The initial figures above suggest the initial cost to be between 9 billion and 11.4 billion (US$2.3bn to US$2.9bn), but as previously mentioned, costs could run much higher.

Should Samarco be unable to fund the settlement, Vale and BHP would be liable for covering the costs.

BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie said, “This Agreement is an important step forward in supporting the long-term recovery of the communities and environment affected by the Samarco dam failure. It provides a platform for the parties to work together to support the remediation of affected areas. This agreement demonstrates our commitment to repairing the damage caused and contributing to a lasting improvement in the Rio Doce.

However, the agreement doesn’t cover civil suits, other public civil claims or criminal charges, suggesting the costs could be much higher than the costs set out in the agreement.

Foolish takeaway

It’s not the first time BHP has been involved in an environmental disaster of epic proportions. The Ok Tedi gold and copper mine in Papua New Guinea released millions of tonnes of waste into the river for many years through the 90s and early 2000s – and as a result, BHP handed over its share of the mine to the PNG people in 2002.

The Samarco disaster is also likely to cast its shadow over the giant miner for many years.

3 Comments

Filed under Environmental impact

Ok Tedi board approves PNG copper mine restart from March 1

The mighty Fly River twisting through the Western Province

The mighty Fly River twisting through the Western Province

Melanie Burton | Reuters | 5.02.2016

Papua New Guinea copper miner Ok Tedi Mining Ltd said its board has approved a restart of its operations on March 1, more than five months after the mine was put on care and maintenance when drought cut off its transport links.

The move will bring further metal to a copper market which is already reeling from a prolonged downturn in prices and a surge in mine supply just as demand from China cools, forcing high cost producers to cut output or shut down.

Ok Tedi, which declared force majeure on its sales contracts on Aug. 17, said at the time that it expected to lose 65,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate after the El Nino weather pattern sank river water levels.

“Our plans for the progressive restart of operations on 1 March 2016 were today approved by the OTML Board of Directors,” Managing Director Peter Graham in a statement on its website on Friday.

The company was still awaiting safety approval from the country’s Mineral Resource Authority prior to the restart, the statement said.

Drought made river traffic on the Fly River into Ok Tedi’s main river port at Kiunga unreliable and also affected operations at the Ok Menga power station, the mine’s main source of power.

El Nino disrupted production across a swathe of commodity producers from late last year, parching countries across the north west of the Pacific rim such as Papua New Guinea and Philippines and bringing heavy rains to others like Chile and Peru.

Indonesian neighbour Freeport-McMoRan also blamed El Nino as it cut its 2015 forecast for copper concentrate sales from Indonesia in September as water shortages affected its milling operations.

Leave a comment

Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

OK Tedi plans March return

ok tedi

Luke Kama | The National aka The Loggers Times
THE OK Tedi Mining Limited is expected to resume operation in March, according to Treasury secretary Dairi Vele.
He told The National that board members of the OK Tedi Mining Limited met last month and decided to resume operation in March.
“In December, the board of OK Tedi held a meeting and came up with a decision that the mine to resume operation in March,” he said.
OTML, the largest copper mine in the country, suspended operations on August 22 last year after drought conditions resulted in a decrease in the level of the Fly River.
It affected the national economy and the Government revenue.
Bank of Loi Bakani said the decline in the country’s economy was attributed to expected significant decline in the mining and manufacturing sectors as a result of lower international commodity prices and government spending.
“With lower international commodity prices including oil and the temporary shutdown of the Ok Tedi Mine, Government revenue is significantly lower than budgeted and will impact on public spending,” Bakani said last year. OTML managing director Peter Graham said in a statement last year that the reopening of the mine was dependent on the weather conditions in Western and areas along the Fly river catchment.
“We are looking forward to restarting operations in OK Tedi just as weather permits,” Graham said. 
“Our target is February-March.
“We will come back afterwards and we will come back as a stronger and longer company from the experiences of the long dry weather.”

1 Comment

Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea