Tag Archives: marine waste dumping

Madang governor hits out at PNG govt over Ramu mine water contamination

Radio New Zealand | 18 November 2019 

The governor of Papua New Guinea’s Madang province has hit out at the government over the impact of mine waste in Basamuk Bay.

Peter Yama said the Environment and Conservation Minister Wera Mori was out of line in challenging results from recent testing of water samples off Madang’s coast.

The tests by a team led by Swiss scientist Alex Mojon linked dead marine life to waste from the Ramu nickel mine.

The team was hired by Madang’s provincial government.

Mr Mori has questioned the methodology of Dr Mojon’s team and suggested the mine owner, RamuNico, may not be to blame.

However, Mr Yama said the minister was trying to deflect.

“So, we have two different doctors and two different teams to come up with two different laboratory tests. So, we know that what we are talking about is right, and we do not try to confuse anybody for this matter. But yet, you know how the politicians are…

“They are passing the buck to MRA (Mineral Resources Authority), and MRA is they are passing the buck to CEPA (Conservation and Environment Protection Authority).”

Along with CEPA officials, Mr Mori, who was appointed last week, said dead marine life was being seen dozens of kilometres away in other parts of the Madang region and therefore may not have been caused by the Ramu mine.

But the governor said the mine’s toxic effects had been building up for years, causing an environmental issue that must be addressed for the sake of Madang communities.

He confirmed people in his province were still unable to access food and livelihoods since fishing in the Basamuk Bay area was banned due to recent deaths and illnesses linked to a slurry spill from the mine operations.

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PNG and International Scientists Denied Access to Ramu Mine

Post Courier | November 11, 2019

Papua New Guinea scientists and medical practitioners engaged by the national government and working together with the International scientists on the Ramu mine spill were denied access to the Ramu Nickel Mine site last Friday and Saturday to carry out further sampling and investigation.

The helicopters carrying the team of scientists were landing at the Basamuk mine helipad and told to immediately leave the premises or face severe problems.

This is after one of the officers of Ramu mine, who was part of the national and Madang investigation team meeting, agreed for the collaborated team to visit the mine site and do samplings.

The Ramu mine security team denied the scientists access to the site and advised them to leave immediately after landing at the mine site helipad and premises.

“We went there because we were told by officers of the MCC that attended the collaborated meeting that we could land on site and carry out our samplings,” the scientists said. “But instead when we landed we were told to immediately leave the premises.”

A special meeting was also held on Thursday night, between Madang Governor Peter Yama, Sir Arnold Amet, international scientists, public servants and Madang citizens, independent scientists, government scientists and representatives from MCC.

The meeting was to discuss plans and way forward to work together to carry out the investigation and one recommendation was to go and carry out samplings on various selected locations at the Basamuk and Astrolabe Bay.

Ramu mine executives told the Post-Courier later that they refused because they were still waiting for the official investigation that Prime Minister James Marape had announced in Parliament which would see Deputy Prime Minister Davis Steven sanction.

“The company will only accept the finding and reports sanctioned by the PNG National Government, not others. The company refutes the damning report which is irresponsible, defamatory and malicious to the corporate image of Ramu NiCo (MCC), a genuine developer invited by the government of PNG to operate in this country,” they said.

The investigations covered Karkar Island, Bagbag Island, Long Island, Kranket Island, Bilbil village, Yabob vil-lage, Basamuk Bay, Usino, Ramu and Kurumbukari.

“We are quite concern because the time is very short to prepare ourselves, including those who are invited to confirm their involvement,”

“While we appreciate that the provincial government is opening up the opportunity for all parties to engage, we will participate when CEPA, NFA and all the lead government agencies involve so that the investigation result can warrant for the up-lifting of the fish ban by the provincial government,”

“We must also have a round table meeting to discuss on so many things before the investigation begins because this is a highly technical area. We cannot just get a helicopter, fly to Karkar Island and collect samples anywhere and bring back on the chopper unsecured,” the company management said.

Ramu NiCo management said CEPA last week announced that the national government has engaged a third party to conduct investigation into the sea waters of Madang following a continuous allegation on fish death and other sea contamination.

But the national government agencies engaged to work together with Swiss and German Scientists from CEPA, NAQIA, NFA and provincial health authorities said the provincial government was also an authority and that Ramu did not need to wait for Mr Marape’s investigations.

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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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Controversial Ramu mine reopens but locals unhappy

Two hundred thousand litres of toxic slurry spilled into the ocean in August from the mine’s Basamuk refinery, turning the sea red. Photo: Facebook/ Elisha Wesley Mizeu

Benjamin Robinson-Drawbridge | Radio New Zealand | 29 October 2019

The controversial Ramu nickel mine in Papua New Guinea’s Madang province is back in operation after being closed following a slurry spill.

The Post Courier reported the Mineral Resources Authority had granted permission for the miner to resume operations last Friday less than a week after being shut down by the government.

The authority said its inspectors found the miner had rectified defects and put in place measures to ensure any water from the processing plant was captured and pumped into its tailings treatment facility.

A fishing ban remains in place on the Rai Coast where locals said large marine mammals and fish had washed up dead following the spill.

A community health worker from the Saidor health centre, Lynette Dawo, said those included a dolphin, a turtle, a dugong and a school of tuna.

“We encountered a very big dolphin. It just washed up on the shore to our own beach. A very big one. They buried it and reported it to the marine people. They came and told them to dig it up and when they dug it up they just cut off the intestines and took it away. But after all they didn’t even report to us and tell us what will happen,” Ms Dawo said.

“And then we had a big turtle that died and washed up to the shore. And then another dugong died, washed up to the shore. And then we had about 27 tuna, the very big ones, they all died same time and just washed up to the shore and people got them and buried them,” she said.

Coastal housing in Madang province. Photo: RNZ/Johnny Blades

Rai Coast locals were struggling without sustenance from the ocean, Ms Dawo said.

“Now people are suffering, no fish to eat. Our main source of protein we getting from the sea but they stopped it. People are all suffering especially those ones who live on the coast who mainly live on fish,” she said.

Also from Saidor, Norman Nayak said without the ability to catch fish, Rai Coast fishermen were out of pocket.

“People along the coast depend heavily on fish. They sell to the markets, they harvest fish for daily meals,” Mr Nayak said.

“People are scared. They feel that to visit the sea or get something out of the sea is very dangerous, very risky.”

The area has been declared safe for swimming but Ms Dawo said fear of the sea persisted after children developed skin irritations while bathing during the spill.

“Kids went down to the sea to have their washing. They were touched by this acid or poison from the sea and they developed a skin itchiness. Now we told all the kids not to go and wash in the sea,” she said.

Other swimmers had been more severely affected, Ms Dawo claimed.

“Three young girls went diving in the sea and when they came out they were screaming for their skin itchiness all over. People rushed over and told them to go the river and wash with fresh water. Later on blisters formed on their skin.”

Large-scale and small-scale fishing in the waters off Madang in Papua New Guinea. Photo: RNZI / Johnny Blades

The mine is operated by MCC (Metallurgical Corporation of China) and majority owned by MCC Ramu NiCo Ltd, which told the Post Courier it was grateful to the mining authority for its guidance to rectify faults and for allowing it to resume operations at the processing plant.

“For the mines inspectorate to give us permission to operate after a week of temporary shutdown demonstrates the trust they have in us that we have built over the last 10 years,” the miner said.

“We want to tell the people of Madang and PNG that Ramu NiCo is a reputable investor in PNG and remains committed to share the benefits from the project with every stakeholder, including the national government.”

But according to Ms Dawo and Mr Nayak, benefits had not been shared with people living around the mine.

“We were all excited thinking it would be a change to bring development into the area. We were thinking that they would help constructing bridges and making improvement in the infrastructure there but nothing has happened so far,” Mr Nayak said.

“Recently with the spill, seeing the ocean getting red, people were so scared and shouting ‘government has to put a stop to this mining’. It has brought nothing, no development to the locals,” he said.

Ms Dawo said people had become so frustrated they could retaliate against the miner.

“This company is one of the greediest companies, doesn’t provide anything good for the people. There’s no roads. Nothing good is done. There’s primary schools, we have two secondary high schools here but they don’t even support anything. Our health centre is run down, they are doing nothing.

“That’s one of the greediest companies working here in Papua New Guinea.”

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Madang Locals call for Third Independent investigation in Ramu Mine Spill

NBC News /ONE PNG | 29 October 2019

Locals in Madang Province affected by Ramu Nickel’s Basamuk refinery spill are calling for a third independent investigation into the spill.

A first investigation was conducted by the Conservation Environment and Protection Authority, and the second by an Oil Spill consultant from Switzerland engaged by the Madang Provincial Government.

Prime Minister James Marape recently announced in Parliament, a third investigation team will be put together headed by Deputy Prime Minister Davis-Steven to look further into the spill.

Up until today, the locals are left in the dark, as to what has become of this team and what their next course of action will be.

Local, Thomas Warr told NBC News from Madang, this is a very serious issue and must not be taken lightly by the Government as the people have stopped fishing and swimming- an exercise that has severely impacted on their daily livelihoods.

“We are scattered along the coast – it’s not one small village only affected therefore if anything happens at Basamuk, we all have no control over it.

“So something must be done immediately to address this.

“There must be some kind of compensation or something to keep the locals going while awaiting further reports,” Mr. Warr said.

Meantime, there is a lot of confusion and anxiety amongst the locals in the Raicoast and Madang districts following reports of the re-opening of the Ramu Nickel Mine by the Mineral Resources Authority recently.

Mr. Thomas Warr said though being given the green light to go ahead and fish and swim again, they have not done so and that they have completely lost trust in the Government departments supposed to protect the people and environment.

Mr. Warr said the villagers have been given conflicting advice from these different Government organizations involved in the investigations into the mine spill in August.

A 200-000 litres of toxic slurry had spilled into the sea, from the Ramu Nickel Mine’s Basamuk processing plant causing the sea color to change and allegedly contributing to the death of marine creatures a month later.

Approximately 30-000 people from the immediate areas of Astrolabe Bay to the border of Morobe are estimated to be impacted by this spill and the ultimate ban on fish consumption.

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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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