Tag Archives: Papua New Guinea

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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Chinese owned Ramu Nickel mine threatens legal action against Madang Provincial Govt

Anisah Issimel | NBC News | 2 October 2019

The Ramu Nickel Mine in Madang has threatened it will not hesitate to institute legal proceedings against the Madang Provincial Administration should the company suffer damages to its establishments and/ or employees, following reports of sightings of dead fish in the seas of Raikos, Madang, Sumkar and Bogia districts in the past weeks.

Community Affairs Manager for the company, Albert Tobe, expressed this yesterday in a meeting between the Madang Provincial Administration, the company, plus other government agencies, business houses and concerned residents of Madang Town as well as the local Bel people.

Mr Tobe said there are too many false reports and stories being circulated both in the mainstream media as well as the social media of fish dying as a result of the recent slurry overflow at Basamuk.

He said 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.

Such reports, he pointed out; have also led to the temporary ban on the selling and consumption of fish in the province, which was imposed last Friday by the Madang Provincial Administration.

Mr Tobe said some of the stories have also instigated anger amongst the general public that they could take out their frustrations on the company.

He said that should any such thing happen, the Madang Provincial Administration will be held liable.

Mr Tobe, meanwhile, also assured the general public in Madang that the Deep Sea Tailing Placement system, that Ramu Nickel Company uses to dump its wastes into the ocean off Basamuk is safe.

He told the meeting yesterday that the DSTP facility is monitored 24/ 7 by the company’s employees, and is not in any way a threat to the marine environment in the area.

Mr Tobe said the DSTP is not responsible for the dead fish that local people claimed they have been discovering in different locations.

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Yama Invites PM To Visit Basamuk Bay

Gorethy Kenneth | Post Courier | September 9, 2019

Madang’s first environment affected baby has been born in Basamuk with deformed fingers and toes, Madang Governor Peter Yama told Parliament during grievance debate last Friday.

And gardens, plantations and vegetation at surrounded and nearby Ramu Mine areas are now seriously affected, he said.

Further, Mr Yama has asked Prime Minister James Marape to visit Madang, specifically the affected villages and the mine and to see for himself the deformed baby including the affected villages if he was serious about “Taking Back PNG”.

“If Prime Minister wants to prove it to himself beyond reasonable doubt, please, I am willing to have you come to Madang, I will fly you there, you see the deformed baby, you see the land, you see the sea yourself and see all the people that are affected and suffering, your people out there, then you can believe yourself,” he said.

He spoke again about all the issues he raised including those of the electorate MPs to the Parliament reiterating the mine closure and a review with a new MOA to be signed in favour of his government.

“Mr Speaker, I am very depressed since ol tokim mi, olsem wanpla mama ikarim baby wantaim fourpla finger tripla leg, deformed baby lo ples, this is the first time and looks like more mothers will have the same problem,” Mr Yama said.

“I cannot allow this to happen in Madang.

“Madang is so beautiful I cannot bear to see my children born deformed and the last thing is I don’t want my people and my people must not blame me and my children that I have done injustice to them because I was the governor.

“And I have the privilege to tell this Parliament, there’s no other way to help this people but to shut down the mine and re-negotiate.

“Prime Minister if you want to take back Papua New Guinea, you must start with Ramu Nickel.

“On record, you will see, I never signed the agreement and I refused to go to China to go and sign the agreement as the Member for Usino Bundi.

“The agreement has expired and we must now sign the MOA, and look at all these issues that we have been raising all through, let’s have a win, win situation here, the last thing we want is, if there is no even playing fields, what’s the purpose of having Ramu Nickel?”

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Canada rejects State claim against Nautilus Minerals

Eda Kopa Claim Disallowed By Monitor

Matthew Vari | Post Courier | September 2, 2019

Nautilus Minerals Solwara 1 joint venture partner Eda Kopa Limited has had its claim of US$50.8 (K172.8) million disallowed by the British Columbia Supreme Court appointed monitor PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Canada.

This presents a setback for the state owned investment under Kumul Minerals Holdings Limited, as it seeks the unearned contribution claim during the Nautilus Plan of compromise and arrangement process catered for under the Canadian Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA).

According to documents from the monitor’s (PwC’s) status update as of August 28 last week, it referred to its Monitor’s Fourth Report, dated August 9, which called for a need for resolution with respect to Eda Kopa’s claims and CCAA proceedings.

Where the monitor disallowed the claim on the basis that Eda Kopa’s claim is an equity claim, and that the agreements between Eda Kopa and the Nautilus Group do not support any such claim.

The report also stated that on July 31, Eda Kopa sought to dispute the monitor’s disallowance by submitting a Notice of Dispute, however, according to the monitor the notice did not provide any new information to the Nautilus Group or the Monitor, and, accordingly, neither saw any basis for withdrawing or amending the disallowance of Eda Kopa’s claim.

According to the monitor on August 6, it and Nautilus received notice Eda Kopa retained Canadian counsel and led for an appeal that is set for September 10 this month to hear Eda Kopa’s appeal of the disallowance of its claim.

A resolution to the matter is expected to be reached on or shortly after September 10.

According to the monitor’s update if a resolution cannot be achieved in both Eda Kopa’s claim through the CCAA process or its general relationship with Nautilus going forward then the plan will not be implemented resulting in no distribution to affected creditors as anticipated and the Nautilus group restructuring will fail.

The CCAA plan was approved early in August at a meeting of affected creditors along with an acquisition plan by its main lender Deep Sea Mining Finance Limited would take over a number of the 44 entities registered under the Nautilus Group in nine jurisdictions around the world.

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BSP still milking taxpayers for Solwara 1 loan

BSP profits at taxpayers expense for a loan that it should never have given.

If the Fleming had any conscience the bank would write off the loan

Fleming: Payments For Solwara Loan Made Since Day 1

Matthew Vari | Post Courier | 2 September 2019

Payments for the State’s loan from Bank South Pacific for its 15 per cent stake in the now defunct Solwara 1 project have been made since day one.

The K375 ($120) million bullet loan taken out by Kumul Minerals Holdings Limited subsidiary Eda Kopa in 2014 will fully mature in 2021 according to BSP Group CEO Robin Fleming.

Mr Fleming was referring to queries from stakeholders, at BSP’s half year presentation last week, if the bank was calling upon the State’s guarantee on the loan taken out for its equity in the project, which the bank has denied.

“There has been no call on the State, and Eda Kopa, the Solwara (1) loan is in the name of Eda Kopa. “It has an expiry date of 2021, but no guarantee has been called upon.

“All payments to BSP have been made since day one, the loan has been fully serviced and the manner which that loan was structured was that you have a borrower in the name of Eda Kopa Limited and co-underwritten or fully supported by the Independent State of PNG.

“In terms of the original approval of that facility, which doesn’t mature until 2021, all payments have been made whenever they are due,” Mr Fleming said.

He said discussions really are with Kumul Minerals who owns Eda Kopa to clean up their own balance sheet and possibly look to have it more directly with the Independent State of PNG which provides the guarantee.

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Yama Wants Ramu Mine Shut Down

Post Courier | September 2, 2019

Madang Governor Peter Yama wants the Ramu nickel mine closed, a report tabled, review done and funds owing to the Madang provincial government paid before it starts operating again.

An irate Mr Yama held a press conference last Friday asking why Ramu nickel-cobalt mine was exporting K27 billion yearly and yet nothing has been paid to the provincial government.

He urged Prime Minister James Marape to be serious about Ramu with no more delays. He also said other provinces with mines have received royalties and payments, but for Madang – nothing.

“Prime Minister, I am in great distress, I am angry with a righteous anger because there is great injustice done to the province of Madang, and as the Governor of Madang I am very jealous, yes, envious of my two close friends, Governor of Enga and Governor Of New Ireland,” he said.

“When I visit my friends, they always boast of what mining has contributed to their provinces.

“In Enga, mining has given them the IPI group, a company that is worth more than a billion kina. They have a Children’s Future Fund and they have infrastructure devel-opment as a result of the mining operations,” he said.

“So, I turn to my friend, Governor of New IreIand, and he tells me that he started a pension scheme, that because of the mine, the Lihirians own the Anitua group worth over a biliion. They aiso have MRL Capital, again worh over a billion kina….

“And then there is Western Province with the Ok Tedi Mine. They have an environmental disaster happening, but at least they have PNGSDP worth neariy US$2 billion. They also have part ownership of the Ok Tedi Mine. In addition, they are fighting over K500 million in ANZ.

“What I wouldn’t give for an opportunity to fight over K500 million.

“And the conversation turns to me…How many billions did you get from the mining operations in Madang, Governor? What can I say???…

“I have RDF worth three bags of kaukau which I can’t sell. And I have an environmental disaster waiting to happen that could devastate our tuna industry worth billions, kill my people, damage the Ramu valley, destroy my Madang coastal development program, and destroy our economy for many decades to come, affecting not just my province but the Momase region and Bismarck Sea as well,” Mr Yama said.

“And yes…. we have K27 billion worth of export from the mining operations, but alas, we are getting nothing from it since it doesn’t belong to us.

That’s what I have from the mining operation in my province. Last year, an MOU was signed with MCC on the continuation and expansion of the Ramu nico operations without consulting with my government.

“I consider it an insult as my people in my province are the ones who will pay for any mining disaster or damages caused to the environment. It is our home and our lives will be affected, so we must be adequately compensated and consulted and not be ignored.”

Mr Yama also said CEPA failed to protect the environment, allowing the operators to dump toxic waste directly into the environment.

“Prime Minister, for the sake of my people and the future generations of Madang, we will have no option but to close the mine.”

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