Tag Archives: Ramu nickel mine

Dead fish prompt new calls to shut down Ramu mine

Mysterious Fish Deaths in PNG’s Madang Province

NBC News / PNG Today | 18 September 2019

Locals in Warai Village of Raicoast District in Madang Province, Papua New Guinea have raised concerns about tuna fish dying mysteriously in the area.

Fisherman Thomas Warr told NBC News from Madang, the villagers started noticing fish dying and floating ashore, on Tuesday 17th September.

He said villagers are confused as to what would be the cause of this, but they have refrained from fishing, following this occurrence.

Mr. Warr said reports have emerged of fish dying as well in Karkar and Bagbag Islands – something which he says needs to be confirmed as well.

A team led by Madang Provincial Administrator Joseph Kunda Bonomane with representatives from the National Fisheries Authorities, National Disaster office and Health among others are now traveling to the site to collect fish samples, for testing.

Meantime, people in the Raicoast District of Madang Province are questioning what has become of the report on the ‘200-000 litres toxic slurry’ spillage which occurred in August, from the Ramu Nickel Mine’s Basamuk processing plant.

The Chinese company which has invested over six billion kina in the project, came out recently revealing the magnitude of the spill following outrage by locals after the colour of the sea in the area turned red, brown and orange.

The spill material – reportedly ‘very toxic’ was a result of a pump failure caused by an electronic fault which led to an overflow.

A few weeks later now, with fish turning up dead on the shores in the same area – the locals want answers.

Mr. Thomas Warr said it’s hard to understand when you have big mining operations like this and yet no testing facilities for instances such as this.

He said now, everyone has to wait for samples to be sent overseas for testing and the people are kept in suspense – in most cases there is no feedback at all.

NBC News understands, residue from the spillage were sent to Australia for testing, and results are expected this month.


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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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Govt Ignored Warning On Ramu Mine Toxic Waste – Kaluwin

Elias Nanau | Post Courier |  September 5, 2019

Head of the school of environmental science and geography at the University of Papua New Guinea, Professor Chalapan Kaluwin, says the government was forewarned about the impacts of toxic waste from the Ramu nickel mine likely to find its way to the sea.

He said this was during the development of the mine and while he was living overseas, as part of a group who did research on the oceans and likely environmental impacts on communities.

Prof Kaluwin told the national oceans forum yesterday in Port Moresby that their advice to the government was to dump waste at a valley inland.

“I was working for the Australians,” he said. “We were asked to look at the maritime aspect of it.”

He said the slurry would end up at the ocean “because it’s so close and we know the depth, we have done research on depth with Australians and Americans”.

“The document is still there,” he said.

“The science for this is that it’s a chronic zinc oxide that ended in the ocean and it’s toxic.”

Prof Kaluwin said because of the lack of capacity by the government or compelling interest in earning money, their advice was ignored.

“They were more interested in money but not protecting the seas; not protecting the long-term sustainability of people living in Madang and along the coast,” he said.

“We did research all the way from Milne Bay to Madang… all the way to Indonesia… we knew the currents – how it was acting.

“There’s some fine particles that can be swinging in and out of Madang.”

Prof Kaluwin, who has been vocal in opposing the Solwara 1 project in New Ireland, warned mining in the Central Province could face a similar tragedy.

He said the country must be reminded that if “we considered technology, we should be able to know how to use it”.

“Science tells you that you bring in a new technology until you test it,” he said, describing the Solwara 1 undersea mining project as dangerous and an attempt to use PNG as a guinea pig to test technology.

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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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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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Chinese-owned Ramu Nickel plant spills 200,000 litres of ‘toxic’ slurry into the sea

 Liam Fox / Pacific Beat | ABC News | 30 August 2019

A Chinese nickel mine operator has apologised after accidentally spilling an estimated 200,000 litres of toxic slurry into a bay in Papua New Guinea’s Madang province, turning the water bright red and staining the shore.

Key points:

    • The spilled material is “very toxic” and rich in heavy metals
    • However PNG authorities say there are no immediate safety concerns
    • Compensation and punishments will be pursued, officials said

Mining authorities in PNG said the spilled material was a mineral-rich slurry that had been piped to the processing plant at Basamuk Bay from a nickel mine site 135 kilometres inland.

Mineral Resources Authority managing director Jerry Garry told the ABC’s Pacific Beat program the slurry was “very acidic”.

“In terms of the heavy metals — in terms of nickel, cobalt, magnesium — they are very toxic,” he said.

Mr Garry said the spill occurred when an electronic fault caused a pump failure, which went undetected by workers, leading to an overflow.

The spill occurred on August 24, and photos showing the contamination caused outrage on social media.

“The people from the village they went down to the beach … and they realised the water was contaminated and the colour had turned to red,” Nigel Uyam, a local villager who took the first photos of the spill, told the ABC.

“They are angry … we are trying to control the angry people and we are trying to control the situation.”

Authorities said compensation would be pursued and a punishment would also be imposed on the plant operator, Ramu Nickel, which is owned by the Metallurgical Corp of China (MCC).

Ramu Nickel’s vice-president, Wang Baowen, said the company was extremely concerned about the incident and “committed to address any compensation”.

$2b nickel mine’s troubled past

The spill is the latest incident in the Ramu Nickel mine’s short but troubled history. The $2 billion project was the first Chinese resource investment in Papua New Guinea.

The start of operations were delayed by a year as landowners fought an unsuccessful legal battle to prevent it from dumping waste into the sea by a process known as deep-sea tailings disposal.

A clash of cultures saw local staff fight Chinese employees in 2012, while armed villagers attacked the mine site in 2014, injuring staff and destroying property and equipment.

A Chinese worker was killed and two local staff injured in a workplace accident in 2016 that saw the mine temporarily closed — that same year slurry leaked from the pipeline connecting the mine to the processing plant.

“People have been raising concerns about the way the plant has been operating for years,” Gavin Mudd, an associate professor at RMIT University’s engineering department, told the ABC.

“If this happened in Australia, there would be heads rolling.”

Despite the toxic nature of the spill, the mineral authority’s inspector found no immediate safety concerns and no reason to shut down the plant’s operations.

Residue samples have been sent to Australia for testing, with results expected in under a month.

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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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