Tag Archives: Highlands Pacific

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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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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Expert Says Basamuk Spill ‘A Catastrophe’

Elias Nanau | Post Courier | October 10, 2019

An expert engaged by the Madang Provincial Government to investigate possible environmental and health issues associated with the operation of the Ramu Nickel Mine says it’s a “catastrophe.”

Dr Alex Mojon who has done environment impact and assessment studies in Africa, Europe, Asia including China for over 30 years was with Madang Governor Peter Yama yesterday when he made the statement.

A report is expected to be published in less than a week, with two investigations already being carried out by Dr. Mojon collaborating with other scientists. One was carried out before the slurry spill occurred and another recently after the spill of an estimated 200,000 cubic metres of waste turning the sea red.

Mr Yama said his government decided to engage what he described as “impartial experts” because he alleged that the office of the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) has been compromised and the veracity of their report has to be tested.

“The company has a strong influence on the report,” he said.

Mr Yama was irate and stressed that fishery lives were being affected as far as the borders of Morobe and the Karkar, Long and Bagabag islands northwest of Basamuk.

“One or two people have died,” he said, despite assertions to the contrary by a local health worker in the area and supported by the miner MCC.

“One of my ward councilors of Astrolabe Bay is at the intensive care unit.”

He said he became ill after eating contaminated fish,” Yama said.

Dr Mojen believes evidence strongly point at contamination being the cause of a number of medical conditions.

This included deformity in babies born around the vicinity, saying his investigations focused on the Kurumbukari mine and tracked the pipeline to Basamuk Deep Sea Tailing Disposal set up less than 500 meters from the sea, he interviewed villagers and flew to areas as far as Karkar.

“I was shocked,” he said. “We found it to be a catastrophe. There is evidence that Ramu Nickel Mine is not managing waste well.”

According to him, the samples were tested at a laboratory in Munich, Italy.

An irate Mr Yama said yesterday he would protest by not attending Parliament sessions and he will demand Prime Minister James Marape to intervene.

“We can’t gamble with the lives of the people,” he said firmly.

He said based on financial reports, the Mine has made K27 billion since its operations and the Madang Provincial Government received only K5 million.

Mr Yama said the Kurumbukari mine is on tax holiday.

According to Mr Yama, Lomai and Attorney has been engaged to act swiftly based on additional credible evidence before it to file a lawsuit on environmental issues and an Australian QC is likely to be involved.

Mr Yama’ stance yesterday was; “We will go for the closure of the mine.”

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Madang authorities investigate suspected poisonous fish

Blood red seas have sparked fear in coastal communities

“At the moment, all of my community in the Rai Coast area, and all of Madang, they’re very frightened to get the fish from the sea”

Radio New Zealand |  7 October 2019

Authorities in Papua New Guinea’s Madang province are working with a mining company to establish the cause of suspected poisonous fish.

The Madang Administration has temporarily banned sale and consumption of fish in the province.

This follows reports that a Rai Coast man died after eating fish which local villagers claim was poisoned by a toxic substance.

Operators of the Ramu Nickel Mine in Madang deny that a recent slurry overflow at its Basamuk Bay refinery is linked to the problem.

But a local level government president in Rai Coast district, Amili Deide, said suspicion was raised after local waters turned blood red last month.

“At the moment, all of my community in the Rai Coast area, and all of Madang, they’re very frightened to get the fish from the sea. I can tell you that the government is very concerned about that. They’re working around the clock to rectify the problem,” he said.

The Community Affairs Manager for Ramu Nico, Albert Tobe, warned false reports were being circulated in the mainstream media as well as social media about the cause of fish dying.

The NBC reports him saying these stories have created fear amongst the people and they have stopped going out to sea to fish, as well as sell fish at the markets.

Mr Tobe has assured the general public in Madang that Ramu Nico’s Deep Sea Tailing Placement system – used to dump mining wastes into the ocean off Basamuk Bay – is safe.

However, Mr Deide said that after the recent discolouring of the sea, villagers had grown fearful of consuming fish or any sea organism.

“Before that everything was alright. The sea environment and everything was okay, before something polluted the sea. All of that area was covered blood red.”

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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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Papua New Guinean man dies after eating fish caught near Ramu nickel mine spill

PHOTO: Madang officials were due to receive an environmental report into the spill on Wednesday. (Supplied: Nigel Uyam)

John Papik | Pacific Beat | ABC News 3 October 2019

A man has died in Papua New Guinea after eating a fish caught near the site of a massive nickel refinery spill, however the mine’s Chinese operator denies the accident caused his death.

Key points:

  • A senior local official is calling for a post-mortem investigation
  • The mine’s operator accidentally spilled slurry into the sea in August
  • A ban on the sale and consumption of local fish is in force, pending scientific tests

An estimated 200,000 litres of toxic slurry was released into Basamuk Bay in PNG’s Madang province in late August, after an electrical fault at the Chinese-owned Ramu Nickel refinery caused an underwater pipe to overflow.

The spill caused the bay to turn bright red, and officials say dead fish and at least one dolphin have washed up along the Madang coastline in recent weeks.

An official investigation into the spill from PNG’s Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) was due to hand down its report into the mining accident on Wednesday.

However, local authorities have already moved to ban people from eating or selling fish caught in the province following the man’s death and the fish kills, and have requested a post-mortem examination.

Marcus Kachau, Madang’s deputy provincial administrator, told the ABC he also wanted environmental experts to test the fish to work out if they were safe to eat.

“One person went out fishing, and caught a fish for his family, but his family refused,” he said.

“He wanted to eat the fish, and then right after that, about one-and-a-half hours, he died.”

However a medical officer quoted in the national Post-Courier newspaper, who said he treated the man, claimed he had eaten a poisonous puffer fish.

The medical officer was not named in the article, but said attempts to resuscitate the man had failed.

The company itself has also denied the spill was responsible for the man’s death or the fish kills, and said it would not accept responsibility until the provincial government provided scientific proof.

A delegation from the Madang Provincial Government reportedly met with environmental authorities in Port Moresby on Wednesday to receive the results of their investigation.

Details from that meeting were yet to emerge, and multiple attempts to contact CEPA and the Madang Government this afternoon were unsuccessful.

The managing director of PNG’s Mineral Resources Authority told the ABC in August the slurry included heavy metals, which were “very toxic” and “very acidic”.

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