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Madang Govt Sues Ramu Nico For K18b

Post Courier | February 6, 2020

The Madang provincial government and 13 landowners have sued Chinese company Ramu Nico for damages worth K18 billion and K1.6 million as special damages to be settled 30 days from today.

Lawyer representing the provincial government Ben Lomai said yesterday that based on the final report carried out by international scientists engaged by the government, the case has been granted and a writ of summons will be served on Ramu Nico today.

There are about 13 plaintiffs who have signed on behalf of 7968 officers taking the company to court including the provincial government. This included Wadan Namui on behalf of 52 named persons from Astrolabe and Rai Coast, Kaimalang Moses for himself and on behalf of 425 named persons from Rai Coast, Peter Sel on behalf of himself and 122 named persons from Rai Coast, Barthly Andrew for himself and on behalf of 230 named persons from Rai Coast, Micha Wasa Kosi on behalf of 348 per- sons from Rai Coast, Asru Masil on behalf of 82 people of Rai Coast, Willie Mathew on behalf of 71 persons, Sauma Hangi on behalf of 77 people, John Simoi on behalf of 389 persons of Sumkar, Michael Barui on behalf of 1398 people of Sumkar, Henry Amath on behalf of 1233 people of Sumkar, Steven Aren on behalf of 510 people of Sumkar and Kautil Mamari on behalf of 373 people of Sumkar.

The plaintiffs and the people they represent are asking the court to make:

a) A declaration that the Defendant committed public nuisance;

b) A declaration that the Defendant committed private nuisance;

c) A declaration that the Defendant is strictly liable for its conduct by continuously dumping of the tailings and other mine waste into Basamuk and Astralobe Bay: and

d) A declaration that the Defendant committed negligence

Mr Lomai said that they will be asking the court to make a declaration that the continuous activity by the Defendant, particularly the dumping of tailings and waste into Astrolabe and Basamuk bays by the use of a chemical, DSTP which was in breach of the Environmental Act 2000 and was therefore unlawful.

The court will also be asked to order the current DSTP located offshore from Basamuk Refinery be relocated back inland to a designated area within the SML, subject to proper environmental, engineering and design and construction recommendations. Other orders sought are:

  • An order that the permanent injunction restraining the Defendant by itself, its servants or agents or otherwise, from committing the said nuisance and negligence and to injure the Plaintiffs and the people they represent in their use and enjoyment of their customary land and water rights that a permanent injunction restraining the Defendant from destroying the offshore environment in any way and from dumping waste and tailings into Astrolabe and Basamuk Bays in accordance with the Ramu Nickel Environmental Plan 1999 Approval or at all;
  • A declaration that the Plaintiffs’ rights to the use and enjoyment of their customary land and water rights and the rights of the people they represent, have been breached and that they have suffered as a direct consequence of the Defendant’s dumping of tailings and toxic waste activity by the use of DSTP, the Refinery dusts and fumes as well as the slurry spillage;
  • An order that the Defendant compensate and or pay damages to the Plaintiffs and the people they represent in the sum of K18 billion and alternatively, such compensatory damages referred to paragraph 690) be assessed;
  • An order that the Defendant and the Madang province government in consultation with CEPA and MRA, within 30 days from the date of this, order, take remedial steps to clean the environment that had been contaminated by the activity of the Defendant and that such remediation costs, to be properly assessed by remedial experts, shall be paid by the Defendant; and
  • An order that the Defendant pay the Madang provincial government K1.6 million as special damages forthwith.

MCC yesterday was contacted but they advised Post-Courier that they have not been served the court injunction but are prepared to counter the case.

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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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Justice Cannings starts human rights proceedings on Madang fish ban

The ban on fish sales was imposed after a spill at the MCC owned Basamuk refinery

The National aka The Loggers Times | January 13, 2020

MADANG resident judge Justice David Cannings has started a human rights proceeding on his own initiative to inquire into the fish ban in the province.

He summoned the provincial administrator and the managing director of the National Fisheries Authority to appear in the National Court on Jan 31.

This is to determine who imposed the ban, under what law it was imposed, were there any proven scientific reasons for continuing the ban, and will any person’s human rights be infringed by the continuation of the ban.

He said the purpose of the inquiry was to determine the validity of the ban and whether to lift the ban to restore normalcy in the survival routine of the coastal people of Madang.

People living in the coastal areas of Madang who rely on the sea for income and food are being affected by the ban imposed by the provincial government last October.

The provincial government banned the harvesting, selling, purchasing and production of marine resources from the waters of Madang after a reported slurry spill on Aug 24 at the Ramu NiCo Basamuk Refinery.

The provincial fisheries authority on Oct 16 declared the waters around the province and the fish safe.

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Aust Contractor To Back Govt-Sanctioned Probe Into Ramu Mine Spill

Post Courier | December 9, 2019

A Government-sanctioned investigation into the Basamuk slurry spill incident in Madang will be undertaken as a highly integrated multi-disciplinary study approach.

Environment Conservation and Climate Change Minister Wera Mori said this before leaving PNG for the global climate change conference, the Conference of Parties (COP) 25 in Madrid, Spain yesterday.

He gave a briefing on the spill incident indicating government’s total and utmost commitment towards addressing the issue.

He said the study objective now is to obtain all necessary information and data for a well informed decision to be made regarding the spill based on conclusive scientific evidence as “science does not lie.”

Mori said an initial investigation done by the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) indicated no pollution, but because of the widespread outcry and a contradicting report by an investigation done by a Dr Alex Mojon engaged by the Madang provincial government, the national government has now taken a further step to address the issue.

He said Cabinet has already approved for a comprehensive investigation, and BMT Eastern Australia Pty Ltd has been contracted to support the investigation as it is a leading international multi-disciplinary engineering, science and technology consultancy firm offering a broad range of services in the environment, energy, shipping, ports and defense sectors.

“The Water and Environment Group of BMT is recognised as one of Australia’s premier environmental consultants and they operate across the five continents in over 30 countries.

“We are getting them on board so that there is credibility in the investigation that will be conducted.

“It will be extensive, and with support from our CEPA technical officers, they have already conducted the first phase which is the reconnaissance trip or sampling plan trip.

“The second trip is sampling plan implementation or sampling, and this will be done after the New Year where all parties will be involved including representatives from the Madang provincial government so that samplings are done accurately and cannot be compromised,” Mr Mori said.

He said all parties including independent investigators, experts and a team from the Madang provincial government will also be part of the sampling.

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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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Minister brushes aside scientists’ Ramu reports


Freddy Mou | Loop PNG | 14 November 2019


Minister for Environment and Conservation, Wera Mori, has labelled scientific findings by the scientists from Switzerland, led by Dr Alex Mojon, as baseless and untrue.

Minister Mori claims the report by Dr Mojon intends to tarnish the good name of the current Government.

The newly-appointed Minister for Environment and Conservation has brushed aside reports by scientists engaged by the Madang Provincial Government to investigate environmental damages at Ramu NiCo’s Basamuk processing plant.

He further condemned a statement by a local scientist engaged to investigate the cause of the marine creatures dying in Madang after the spillage.

The Madang Provincial Government, through the Provincial Administrator’s office, invited the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority and other government line agencies to a collaborative meeting with a group of experts, led by Dr Mojon. This was to undertake investigations into the impact of mining activities by the Ramu Nickel Mine.

Mori has also urged the people of Madang not to be fooled by “fake reports” on social media until proven otherwise in laboratories.

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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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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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