Tag Archives: marine waste dumping

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 miner in PNG likely to face environmental lawsuit

A spill into the bay earlier this year turned the sea red. Photo: Facebook/ Elisha Wesley Mizeu

Dateline Pacific | Radio New Zealand |  14 October 2019

The Madang provincial government in Papua New Guinea is likely to file a lawsuit against the owner of the Ramu nickel mine in coming weeks.

The mine, owned by Metallurgical Corp of China, or MCC, has been found to have mismanaged toxic waste it dumps into the sea.

Madang’s government engaged an oil spill response consultant from Sweden, Dr Alex Mojon to investigate contamination of local waters and fish species.

A report into the matter by PNG’s Conservation and Environmental Protection Authority is still pending. But, a lawyer working with Madang’s government, Ben Lomai, told Johnny Blades that Dr Mojon’s probe identified catastrophic impacts from mine waste on the marine environment.

Ben Lomai: Because there was some issues within the area that fish were dying, babies had deformed fingers and toes, a couple of people died within the area by eating fish, etc, etc. So they were trying to ascertain what was the cause? I mean, we obviously… with the report now from Alex, and also, we might be able to have this CEPA (Conservation and Environmental Protection Authority)  report coming in. All this will be confirmed and then compared and then Ramu / MCC will take a position on it, perhaps.

Johnny Blades: Should the mine operations be closed until this is sorted out?

Ben Lomai: Yeah, well, you know, there is very good evidence that so the court the only way is to have the mind closed for a period of time for have six months to remedy the situation, and then can get the mine open again, that’s what is done in Pujiang city in China. They passed a law that if you have not complied with the Waste Management (rules), they come in and shut the power down, tell you to do all these things and inspect, come and check, recommend that you have done it and then they come and put the power back on for you to work. It’s very, very strict. I don’t understand why they come here and they don’t do it here in this country.

Johnny Blades: Well this is a test, isn’t it, for Papua New Guinea’s environmental agencies and its courts?

Ben Lomai: Yeah I have actually briefed a QC in Sydney. I told him that look, I need another report to back up the case because the preliminary report is just showing some indication that yes, there’s some contamination but the second report is very solid, because it indicates the level of contamination is very high in toxicity in all 28 samples that were collected by Alex. And if we have the opinion that there was a cause for the environmental claim then we should be able to file it before the end of October.

Johnny Blades: What has MCC’s response been so far?

Ben Lomai: Well, MCC has not come back yet. They said they wanted to see the CEPA report, and then they can they can comment on it.

Johnny Blades: Is there a danger that there will be more more reports required, more assessments, and that it’ll drag on?

Ben Lomai: Yeah, absolutely. Because we need to really ascertain the actual contamination. We’ve got a report from Alex, and Alex is not doing it on his own. He’s got a team of environmental scientists and professors that are working with him. We welcome the MCC to also have its own environmental scientists to do their investigation. We also… by law, CEPA is obligated to produce a report and they should have done that a long time ago when the issue was raised. But anywhere they said the report is nearly completion. So we’ll wait for them to do that. At this stage, we’re not putting the blame on the MCC yet. We want to work with them in a friendly way so that we can resolve for the benefit of the people. That’s the approach that we’re taking. But if they are not cooperating, then perhaps we can be able to look at other options.

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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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Govt not learning from experience

Freddy Gigmai | Post Courier | February 8, 2019

The current government along with its responsible agencies are still not learning from the damaging experiences of mining activities in the country.

The experiences of Panguna, Ok Tedi, Tolukuma, and others are all there for the responsible authorities to learn and do things properly. The environmental pollution and damages caused by these mines have exceeded the monetary and other benefits put together.

The evidence are overwhelming but the government is still somewhat ignorant thus placing short term revenue gains ahead of long term gains and sustainability and dependence of our small people on the natural resources such as river systems, forests, seas, etc.

The recent MoU signed by the O’Neill government with the developers of the multi-billion kina Wafi-Golpu mining project in Morobe province is another clear indication that it does not care about the local peoples welfare and long term survival.

The Morobe Governor and Huon Gulf MP Ross Seymour with the concerned landowners must be commended for voicing their concerns against the signed MoU.

The MoU is rushed and is sinister because there is no clear indication of the where the mine tailings will be properly stored and disposed. At present, it is apparent that the tailings will no doubt be dumped into the sea on the Morobe coast. The environmental damages that the tailings disposal pose are unimaginable.

Although Bulolo MP and Energy Minister Sam Basil and former Morobe Governor Kelly Naru have said that the MoU is only a guide to pave the way forward, the concerns of the Morobe people and leaders who will be directly affected must be respected and considered.

It is very surprising to see the minister responsible for mining and Kainantu MP Johnson Tuke silent on this very important issue.

Also on a close look of the electoral boundaries, eighty percent of the Wafi-Golpu project is in the Huon Gulf electorate and not in Bulolo-Wau so

Basil’s heavy involvement and not Ross Seymour as the Huon Gulf MP with Governor Saonu is a concern as well.

The natural resources and assets of this country must not be taken for a ride by a few privileged individuals. The MPs are voted into parliament to make decisions in the best interest of the people as their first priority and not for themselves and the developers who after all are short terms profit-oriented visitors who only care to bring the best returns to their shareholders only.

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