Tag Archives: Peter Yama

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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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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Yama Claims Two Dead After Eating Contaminated Fish

Post Courier | October 18, 2019

MADANG Governor Peter Yama claims two men have died after eating contaminated fish caught in the polluted Basamuk area.

He told Parliament yesterday that post-mortems would be done soon to confirm his fears.

Mr Yama said this when disputing a statement by Minister of Environment and Conservation, Geoffery Kama, which dismissed the seriousness of the situation at Basamuk.

Mr Kama had told parliament that the discoloration of sea water was due to 200, 000 liters of raw slurry that had overflowed from one of the company’s surge tanks within the Basamuk plant site and did not pose any danger to the environment or people. Tests have also been done to prove this, he said.

“Due to the tests done, I would like to inform this house that marine waters around Basamuk Bay and nearby areas are safe to swim, and for recreational purposes only.”

An irate Mr Yama demanded for the immediate closure of the Ramu nickle mine until proper scientific and environmental tests were done. “Next week six scientists will be in Madang not in the name of Peter Yama but for the interest of the people of Madang, East Sepik, Morobe and West Sepik and the country,” he said.

“Why are the animals dying and ending up on the shore of the bay, why are we telling lies, close the mine, prosecute and send them packing or else you will see a protest march that will close down Madang Province.

“This plant at Basamuk is the worse mine this government has allowed to sit in the province, the way it is set up is not like a mine,” he added.
Mr Yama claimed the company had not paid any taxes to the Government or paid royalties to landowners.

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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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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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RAMU NICKEL WANTS TO GET AWAY WITH AN APOLOGY

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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Landowners Urged Not To Disturb Basamuk Refinery

Post Courier | August 29, 2019

Mining Minister Johnson Tuke yesterday urged landowners from the areas around Basamuk Refinery in Madang’s Rai Coast district not to disturb the operation of the facility while an investigation into a slurry over ow into the sea last weekend is underway.

Mr Tuke visited the refinery accompanied by Madang Governor Peter Yama and managing director of MRA, Mr Jerry Garry to inspect the slurry over ow that occurred in the early hours of Saturday August 24.

Vice president of Ramu NiCo, Mr Wang Baowen, received them in the presence of registered refinery manager Bill Hill and other company senior officers. “While the investigation on the slurry over ow is going on, I ask all of you to stay away from the slurry outflow point into the sea.

“And do not disturb the operation of the refinery.

“As the government, we are aware of your concerns and we will try our best to ensure a full investigation is completed and presented.

It will take some time but we will ensure the root cause is identified and rectified,” Mr Tuke said.

More than 70 landowners and nearby villagers gathered at the Basamuk Refinery old camp and petitioned the minister.

They asked for permanent environment officers to be stationed at Basamuk.

This is to monitor any environmental issues and compensate them for the inconvenience caused by the Saturday August 24 slurry over ow.

On Tuesday August 27 more than 50 landowners from nearby villages to Basamuk Refinery including Mindre, Bobidik, Jangag, Duman, Sulu, Ganglau and Tugiak expressed concerns on the same issue and urged MRA and CEPA to thoroughly investigate and establish the toxicity of the slurry in a transparent manner.

Chief inspector from MRA, Lave Michael, and inspector Joseph Umare, including mining manager from CEPA, Robert Sine, were present to hear the landowners’ grievances.

The mentioned government officers arrived at Basamuk on Monday August 26 to carry out investigations on the alleged spill to establish the cause.

A vocal leader from Mindre village and an associate to NGO’s in Madang, Terry Kuning challenged the government and Ramu NiCo to establish the main cause of the slurry overspill transparently and to avoid similar situations in the future.

“The environment damage has been done and we ask the company and the government to compensate us. This must be done soon,” Mr Kunning said.

Other landowners and women representatives present expressed concern on the slurry spill and urged the company to avoid a similar situation in the future that will cause unnecessary inconveniences.

CEPA mine manager Robert Sine thanked the landowners for their patience and understanding despite the slurry spill.

He assured them that proper and careful investigation is currently underway and strict measures and guidelines will be imposed after the findings.

“We don’t take bribes or favours.

We go by the books and carry out our work in line with laws.

We will make sure investigations are done properly and will inform you through Ramu NiCo,” Mr Sine said.

Chief Inspector from MRA, Lave Michael informed the landowners that he will complete the investigation and any measures taken will depend on the outcome of the investigation.

Inspector Lave emphasised that his responsibility is highlighted under the Mining Act where he complies accordingly and will not attend to other matters raised by the landowners.

“I am guided by the Mining Act and my job is in line with requirements thereafter.

I have disciplined several mines including Ramu NiCo when in breach of safety issues and I will continue to do if any mine including Ramu NiCo is found in breach of their safety laws,” Mr Michael said.

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