Tag Archives: MRA

MRA embarks to reduce mercury usage

alluvial miners at work

Alluvial miners at work on Bougainville

Cedric Patjole | Loop PNG | March 8, 2020

The Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) recently launched a project to reduce the use of mercury in small scale mining operations.

The Project aims to identify the extent to which mercury is used in the industry and how it is used and by whom, in a bid to mitigate health risks.

On March 6th, the ‘Reducing Mercury Use in Papua New Guinea’s Alluvial and Small-Scale Gold Mining Sector’ Project was launched in Port Moresby, following a workshop with key stakeholders and project partners.

The Alluvial Mining industry is one of the largest small to medium enterprise sectors in PNG that engages thousands of rural small scale miners.

It is also a sector that is great health risks due to the usage of mercury.

“This project is designed to get a better understanding of our alluvial sector general, and more specifically to identify the extent to which mercury is used how it is used and by whom,” said MRA Executive Manager of Regulatory Operations, Roger Gunson.

“In addition, it will track the supply trial and identify the regions where it is used. The data collected relating to the sector will be entered into a database administered as part of MRA’s land-folio tenement system.

“This will be able to better inform on policy development, resourcing, training and sector needs.”

Gunson, said the Alluvial Mining is one of the biggest revenue earners for the country with K550 million recorded in 2019.

He said this is similar to revenue generated by smaller mines such as Simberi Mine. However, the use of mercury in extracting gold poses major health risks to the miners.

“Unfortunately, in many parts of PNG gold is extracted through the use of mercury. This is a danger to the health of miners, their families and communities as well as we have heard from the workshop today.

“Hence, we have a paradox, we want the gold and we want to be able to seek it, but we also have a health risk that sits alongside it,” said Gunson.

The project is funded by the US Department of State and implemented by Artisanal Gold Council (AGC) in conjunction with the MRA.

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Woodlark MP Lashes Out At MRA

Construction work has already started for the Woodlark gold mine. Image: Geopacific Resources.

‘We do not want to repeat the same mistake we did for Misima mine which is just a few kilometers away….’

Post Courier | January 27, 2020

Samarai Murua MP Isi Henry Leonard has hit out at the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) for acting independently on matters relating to an upcoming mine on Woodlark Island in Milne Bay Province.

Mr Leonard told a media conference last week that MRA had failed to consult provincial and district authorities, LLG and landowners in its dealing with this mining prospect.

Queries raised by the Post-Courier with the MRA were not answered but the MP was reportedly told through his office that mining activities would start following a mining lease awarded six years ago.

The MP’s office also understood that MRA officers flew to Alotau last Thursday to have a meeting with provincial and district authorities.
However, this did not go down well with Mr Leonard who reminded MRA that he represented the people of Woodlark Island and his office should be consulted.

“Even the current company wants to start to with the construction phase prior to a mining lease awarded six years ago, relevant government authorities on the ground should be aware of such intentions and plans,” the MP said.

He said that the mining lease as described by MRA should provide mining development plans, a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between all stakeholders, environmental plan, waste disposal plan, relocation plan for locals living around the vicinity and mining closer plan amongst others.

Mr Leonard said considerable efforts should be undertaken by the MRA for the good of the national, provincial and local level governments and its people.

“We (Samarai Murua) do not want to repeat the same mistake we did for Misima mine which is in the same electorate and just a few kilometers away. We want a MOA and this MOA should be reviewed every four or five years to ensure compliancy and also a mine closure plan should be in place,” the MP said.

He said those were some of the fundamental aspects that Misima Mine failed to capture and the legacy is inflicted on the lives of the people, adding that this was a ‘reminder’ not to be repeated.

Mr Leonard said MRA should communicate with relevant government authorities on the ground and should refrain from directing decisions from Konedabu in Port Moresby.

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PNG’s Ramu Nickle Mine reopens

Inside the Basamuk refinery

FM 100 / PNG Today | October 27, 2019  

Ramu Nico’s controversial Basamuk Refinery Plant in Madang Province, Papua New Guinea is said to be back in full operation.

The company released a statement on Saturday 26th October 2019 stating that the Ramu Nico project is now back to full operation at Basamuk.

The Basamuk Plant was indefinitely shut down following an order by the Mines Inspectorate of the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) on Friday, October 18, 2019 following the slurry spill.

The statement from Ramu Nico stated that some of the remedial works identified following the August 24 slurry spill at Basamuk Processing Plant were not certified by the Mines Inspectorate, prompting the temporary shut-down of the Plant.

But Ramu Nico’s statement further claimed that most of the remedial works have been completed successfully including E143 Neutralization and Surge Tank, a critical part of the Basamuk Processing system that inevitably shut down the Processing Plant for a week.

Based on the statement released by the company, FM100 News contacted the company’s public relations office if the newsroom could sight a copy of the formal notice from MRA, advising Ramu Nico that it could now re-open the mine.

But this newsroom was told, the formal notice to the company is a confidential document and can’t be released to the media, instead we were told, MRA and the Mining Minister will make a formal announcement soon.

Attempts to get a comment from MRA were unsuccessful, however Mining Minister Johnson Tuke when contacted today to confirm the statement by Ramu Nico regarding the mine’s re-opening, told FM100 News he’s not in a better position to comment today and will do so tomorrow (Monday 28/10/19) once he’s properly briefed.

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Resource Industry Does Not Manipulate MRA : Chamber

Post Courier | September 20, 2019

The amended MRA Act passed by Parliament last year has removed all industry representation from the board of the Mineral Resources Authority, the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum said yesterday.

The passage of the revised Act in February 2018 effectively removed the industry from the MRA board.

Therefore, claims by Jiwaka Governor Dr William Tongamp in the National newspaper on Monday September 9 that industry controls and manipulates MRA are factually incorrect and misleading, the chamber states in a statement yesterday.

Furthermore, when the industry representatives sat on the MRA board, they have always acted professionally and always in accordance with the Act.

It is unfortunate that Dr Tomgamp has cast aspersions on the reputation and good standing of many professional Papua New Guineans that serve on boards like the MRA and other State authorities.

The Chamber further dismissed claims by the governor that information published by MRA following the slurry spillage at the Basamuk Bay were provided by the ‘indus- try players and not independent’.

MRA and CEPA are independent regulators and our observation is that they have responded to this matter professionally and it is best that the Governor seeks clarification directly from State authorities, it stated.

It is best that Dr Tongamp seeks clarification directly from State institutions on the process and procedure they have followed.“We would welcome any opportunity to meet with Governor Dr Tongamp to explain the role of the chamber and the contribution the mining and petroleum sector makes to PNG’s economy as well as the wider sector through investments in health, education, training, landco companies and basic infrastructure across Papua New Guinea.”


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PNG to discipline mining companies in breach of mining laws

A government willing to enforce its own laws against resource extraction companies should not be headline news – it should be happening every day.


PNG Today | September 03, 2019

Papua New Guinea Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Geoffrey Kama has informed stakeholders that his Ministry and the Department of Environment and Climate Change will strictly follow the existing laws to discipline any mining companies in breach of any laws governing the mining industry and there are no short cuts in shutting down the mines.

Kama said this when meeting with the Basamuk landowners on Sunday last week at Basamuk Refinery in the Rai Coast District of Madang province.

He went to have an independent assessment on the Refinery’s’ Saturday 24 August slurry spill into the Basamuk harbor. His senior officers including Managing Director of CEPA, Gunther Joku and deputy managing director, Michael Maue including Madang Governor Peter Yama accompanied him to Basamuk.

Ramu NiCo President Gao Yongxue and his vice president Wang Baowen received the minister and his delegation in Madang and accompanied them to Basamuk.

This is the second visit of a senior state minister after Mining Minister, Johnson Tuke who visited Basamuk Refinery for an independent assessment on Tuesday 27 August in his capacity as the Mining Minister.

The Environment Ministers visit follows after his chief investigators from CEPA, Lave Michael, Joseph Umare and Robert Sine, Manager Mining with MRA were on the ground at Basamuk on Monday Aug 26 to conduct an investigation into the slurry spill.

Kama told the principal Basamuk landowners that Marape-Stevens government will not go ahead and shut down Ramu NiCo Project or Basamuk Refinery as demanded but will strictly follow the laws so that all parties are given fair treatment.

The minister’s call came after the landowners demanded that Basamuk Refinery be closed following the slurry discharge and other outstanding matters including socio-economic benefits.

Last week, Member for Rai Coast, Peter Sapia, Madang Governor Peter Yama and the landowners demanded for the closure of Ramu NiCo Project.

But Kama said investigation into the alleged slurry spill is still underway by the Mines Inspector and Mines Inspectorate alone has the power to shut down the mine and not him.

Meanwhile, Als Environment Testing Laboratory in Brisbane, Australia will analyse the sea water samples collected from Basamuk Refinery to determine the concentration of heavy metal level in the sea area where the slurry entered after slurry overflow on Saturday 24 August at the refinery.

Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd designated ALS Ltd, an internationally recognised laboratory specialising in environmental analysis services to analyse the samples to give credibility to the final report that will be produced by MRA and CEPA.

Vice president of Ramu NiCo, Wang Baowen said the Australian based company was selected after full consideration was given to accredited laboratories in PNG and abroad.

He said after uncertainties and speculations have been created by various groups, Ramu NiCo wants to put these concerns to rest by results ALS Ltd will provide.

“We understand the concerns of our landowners and the government.

We know many people want to engage their own consultants. The best we can do is engage an independent and credible third party like ALS so we all accept their analysis,” Mr Bao said.

“The inspectors from CEPA and MRA who investigated the incident will separately receive the results and make their own recommendations, off which we will accept and implement as required.”

He said ASL Ltd has branches throughout Australia and its head office in Brisbane where the heavy metal testing will be done and results anticipated for return approximately within two weeks from Friday last week.

“Under CEPA direction, we have collected seawater samples from five different locations, the primary one being the slurry discharging point within the harbor.

Samples collected vary in depth from the surface, including five meters below the surface to enable cross section of sampling to determine concentration of potential heavy metal at different layers of the harbour,” Mr Bao said.

“CEPA and Ramu NiCo will receive the test result directly, although separately from the Brisbane analysis laboratory.

“CEPA and MRA will interpret the analysing result and determine whether there are significant impact on the harbour and surrounds.

Ramu NiCo will also use the result from third party, ASL and Basamuk Central Chemical Laboratory to analyse and report to CEPA and concerned government bodies.’’

He said Ramu NiCo is committed to get to the bottom of the investigation by engaging third parties and the notable laboratory in Australia.

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Vice President of Ramu NiCo, Wang Baowen took the opportunity to apologise to Mining Minister, Johnson Tuke, Governor Peter Yama and MRA MD, Jerry Garry during their visit to Basamuk Refinery on Wed Aug 28 to carry out an independent assessment on the slurry overflow

‘Unfortunate overflow caused inconvenience to villagers’

Ramu NiCo apologises to slurry overflow

Wang Baowen | MCC

THE Vice President of Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd, Mr. Wang Baowen apologised to the nation through Mining Minister, Johnson Tuke, Madang Governor, Peter Yama, Managing Director of Mineral Resources Authority, Jerry Garry and landowners at Basamuk in Rai Coast district for the unfortunate slurry overflow on August 24 that entered the harbor causing inconvenience to the local villagers.

“Company management is extremely concerned about this incident and will not treat it lightly. Even though the slurry spillage occurred accidentally and not out of Company’s negligence to industrial requirements and standards, we will take this incident up to the management level and work very hard to improve so we do not face similar incident in the future,”

“To our local communities who are our friends and have been our most important host and who have been very cooperative to date, we want to continue working with you as we are committed to ensure a harmonious relationship.”

“We are committed to address any compensation in-line with the existing Compensation Agreement as a result of the incident including carry out awareness of the situation once all the facts have been provided to us by agencies responsible,”

“We value your support towards our project as we strive to achieve mutual win-win outcomes, we will continue to work together to enhance our common benefits,” Mr. Wang Baowen expressed in front of the Mining Minister, Tuke, Governor Yama and MRA MD, Mr. Garry on Wednesday Aug 29 during their visit to Basamuk Refinery to do an independent assessment on the slurry overflow.

Mr. Wang Baowen assured all stakeholders and the landowners of Basamuk on behalf of Ramu NiCo that his company is currently working closely with the independent investigators on the ground to establish the main cause of the incident.

“The company will be guided and accept any remedial measures imposed by Government after the findings and is committed to fully implement directions by the State to avoid reoccurrence of this event,” Mr. Wang Baowen said. 

Mining Minister Johnson Tuke and Madang Governor Peter Yama expressed concern on the incident that has gone viral on social media causing a lot of uncertainty and criticism. They emphasised that such incident must be avoided to enjoy a harmonious project operation that will promote confidence to all stakeholders to the Project.

Mr.Tuke said what had happened is now gone but he will meet with the Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Jeffrey Kama and release a joint media statement next week to assure the people of PNG and Madang on the Basamuk incident and way forward for the Project success.

While supporting the Mining Minister, Governor Yama told the Company that he is committed to serve his people in the province while supporting major investors like Ramu NiCo for the development of Madang and PNG

“I as the governor of Madang have the responsibility towards my little people and nothing else. When you (Ramu NiCo) do the right thing, my people are happy, I am happy and you will be happy doing business. Simple as that,” Mr. Yama said.

Managing Director of MRA, Jerry Garry expressed his satisfaction towards Ramu NiCo for solving the initial critical issues and asked the Company to further provide information on heavy metal concentration in the slurry before the overflow, the amount of heavy metal into the harbor (sea), the quantity of slurry into the sea and metal concentration. 

According to MRA’s preliminary findings, Mr. Garry said the slurry overflow was from one of the slurry neutralisation tanks on early hours (4.30am) Saturday Aug 24 after maintenance work. Two slurry pumps control system failed causing a loss of primary containment and tank overflow for almost 48 minutes.

“The overflowed slurry flowed into an emergency retention pond and some slurry bypassed the diverter gate then flowed into the harbour less than 28 minutes,”

“The Authorities (MRA & CEPA) were informed Saturday (August 24) afternoon, and officers were dispatched to site on Monday Aug 26 afternoon to conduct a thorough investigation till Wed Aug 28,” Mr. Garry said.

MRA confirmed closure of the affected ocean front after Company Community Affairs officers had communicated several times to villagers not to utilise for recreational purposes or fishing within the affected area.

“The investigations will determine the nature of the slurry, including toxicity, pH and other heavy elements discharged and how best to mitigate the slurry already accidentally discharged into the ocean,”

“The sea water sample collected by CEPA has been delivered to an independent lab in Australia for further analysis and result will be delivered to CEPA for final report.”

“Furthermore, the investigations will establish any procedural failures on the part of the operator and necessary remedial measures will be imposed,”

 “We will surely update the nation and everyone when the investigations are duly completed. In the meantime, we are placing our efforts in safeguarding the local communities as our priority,” Mr. Garry said. 

Mr. Wang Baowen said the operation of the Refinery is normal with no casualty. He said the imprint of the environment damaged has been stabilised and final result of the independent investigation will be produced once ready.

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Ramu Mine spill turns PNG coastline red

AFP News | 29 August 2019

Papua New Guinea officials have sealed off the area around a Chinese-owned nickel plant in the north of the country after the leakage of potentially toxic slurry that has turned the ocean red.Map locating Chinese-owned Ramu nickel refinery from where a potentially toxic slurry leaked into the ocean on August 24

The Mineral Resources Authority said on Thursday it had cordoned off a portion of Basamuk Bay in the north of the country, while emergency tests are carried out to determine the scale of environmental damage.

The water and coastline were dyed ochre red by the slurry, which is said to have overflowed from tanks at the Ramu Nickel refinery for almost an hour.

The multibillion facility is run by the state-owned China Metallurgical Group, which mines and processes nickel, a metal widely used in batteries, including in electric cars.

The Mineral Resources Authority said it had moved to “prevent villagers from going near or fishing within the affected area” while investigations “determine the nature of the slurry, including toxicity, pH” and whether heavy elements were discharged.

The incident is believed to have taken place at 4:30am on Saturday, but was not reported until the afternoon.

Officials finally reached the site on Monday and they have now been joined by Mining Minister Johnson Tuke.

The probe will “establish any procedural failures on the part of the operator and necessary remedial measures will be imposed”, the authority said.

“In the meantime, we are placing our efforts in safeguarding the local communities as our priority.”

The mine and processing plant have been deeply controversial since their inception.

The project was commissioned in 2012 and had been delayed for almost two years by a legal challenge that ended in the Supreme Court.

Local landowners had tried to block the project because waste from the plant is dumped in the ocean rather than landfill — so-called “deep sea tailings placement”.

During a meeting in Beijing last week, the China Metallurgical Group asked visiting Papua New Guinea officials to approve plans to expand production capacity.

It was not immediately clear what caused the spill, with reports that slurry pumps or a pipe may have failed.

The local provincial governor Peter Yama has called for the ministry of environment rather than the Mineral Resources Authority to take the investigative lead.

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