Tag Archives: Wari Iamo

Ramu mine fires up production

Local villagers living around the Ramu nickel mine processing plant at Basamuk in Madang province, Papua New Guinea, say the plant has been operating since last week and report seeing thick smoke over the factory.

The mine owners, Chinese MCC and Australian based Highlands Pacific, are currently prevented by a court injunction from pumping processing waste into the sea, but villagers say the mine executives are claiming all waste is currently being stored in tanks on the land.

The villagers, though are suspicious about whether MCC and Highlands Pacific might be using the waste pipeline. This is because during a court hearing in February the company admitted that it had commissioned the pipeline and pumped several tons of mine waste into the sea – in apparent contravention of the court injunction which has been in place since last year.

The current production at the processing plant also seems to contradict evidence given to the National Court by Department of Conservation Secretary, Wari Iamo, that no final environmental approval had yet been given for production to begin.

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Ramu mine marine waste dumping trial – final update

Final submissions from the lawyers involved in the Ramu nickel mine waste dumping trial ended late Wednesday afternoon.

Charles Sceri QC for the mine owners, Chinese company MCC and Australian based Highlands Pacific, said there is no real evidence that damage will occur from the plaintiffs. Their lawyer exaggerated the possible harm in her submissions, he said,  and the permit given to MCC to proceed with the waste dumping has been approved by the Department of Environment and Conservation, which is a government agency, so the dumping cannot be unlawful.

The lawyer for the State, Mr Stevens asked the question, where were the landowners when the awarenesses and consultancies were carried out why are they only now raising their concerns? To that, Justice Cannings raised his voice and said, “are you saying they should not raise their concerns? They have the right but they were late!”

The plaintiff’s lawyer responded on this issue of delay: how can the landowners who depend on the sea give a report on the real damage that might be caused? They don’t have the money. Isn’t it the governments responsibility? Why should the plaintiffs have to wait until real damages appear? All the reports done so far have all talked about the uncertainties; there is no certainty so why shouldn’t there be more studies to say whether there’s going to be upwelling?

The case has now been adjourned to the 15th of April when the judge will give a confirmed date for his final ruling.

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Ramu nickel mine waste dumping trial update

Lawyer Tiffany Nonggorr, for the Plaintiff’s in the Ramu nickel mine waste dumping case has finished her closing submissions at the court house in Madang.

The plaintiff landowners are seeking a permaneent injunction preventing the dumping of 100 million tons of mine waste into their seas.

Their lawyer submitted that there has never been a proper environmental assessmental assesment report, and none that states what species of living organisms exist below 150 metres depth, what importance they have to the eco-system, which will be killed and will not be and how much effect will that have on the eco system. All these facts are vital for the plaintiffs to know, says their lawyer,  because their livelihood depends on the sea, but this assessment hasn’t taken place and the Department of Environment (DEC) has already issued a permit to go ahead with the mine waste dumping.  DEC Secretary, Dr Wari Iamo said in evidence that DEC doesn’t have the capacity to conduct a study on the waste dumping proposal. The plaintiffs have tried all proper avenues to raise their concerns. They have written letters to the State and Dr Wang of mine owners, MCC, but no one has attended to their concerns so they have had to resort to going to court. The plaintiffs own the land and have been living by the sea all their life and more weight should be given to their traditional knowledge. The Environmental Permit has been given regardless of numerous reports like the SAMS and Cardno Acil recommendations calling for more testing. All the plaintiff’s are asking for is for the mine to not dump into the sea.

The Defendants lawyers are now making their submissions.

 

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Cyanide spill shuts Simberi mine

By Harlyne Joku

The Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) has ordered Allied Gold limited, operator of the Simberi Gold/Copper mine in the New Ireland Province to shut down its mill plant following a cyanide spill from one of its deep sea tailings disposal tanks last Tuesday.

Simberi Gold mine is located on Simberi Island, 135 kilometres east of Kavieng town.

The islanders are claiming that fish, turtles, dugongs, whales and other marine life are dying as a result of the cyanide in the water.

The mine is using the Deep Sea Tailings Placement System to dispose its waste and has reported to DEC that there is a leakage in one of the tailings tank in the sea.

Secretary of DEC Dr Wari Iamo confirmed the incident yesterday evening. He said Allied Gold had reported to DEC about the incident on March 2 and that they were trying to contain the spill. DEC officers moved in swiftly and instructed the mine to shut down its mill plant until further investigation and instructions.

“The company has also been instructed to provide an incident report to DEC so we can be able to assess the situation and take necessary action including prosecution if there was negligence on the part of the company,” Dr Iamo said.

Meanwhile, fish, whales, turtles and dugongs are dying as a result of the spill, the Deputy Provincial Administrator of New Ireland Province Ms Veronica Jigede also confirmed yesterday. Ms Jigede said the provincial government has sent several officers to the islands to verify the report She said they have taken photographs of dying fish and other marine life.

Ms Jigede said they had received unconfirmed reports that the impact of the spill has extended to neighbouring Tatau and Big Tabar Islands and that two workers have been hospitalised.

Ms Jigede said the locals have expressed anger over the accident saying they do not want to be treated like guinea pigs in testing out the Deep Sea Tailings Disposal system (DSTD).

Allied Gold has not commented and the MRA (Mineral Resources Authority) confirmed the incident but did not wish to comment.

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Ramu mine QC now working for RH

Charles Scerri

Charles Scerri, QC, the Australian lawyer who heads the legal team for the owners of the Ramu nickel mine, is now also working for Rimbunan Hijau, the notorious Malaysian company that dominates the logging industry in Papua New Guinea.

Rimbunan Hijau has been repeatedly exposed for illegal and unsustainable logging and human rights abuses. A number of its timber permits have been ruled unlawful in the courts but the company uses its superior economic power, which includes ownership of the National newspaper, to avoid any real scrutiny.

In 2002, the Ombudsman Commission recommended the removal of Wari Iamo, Secretary of the Department of Conservation, from the National Forest Board for his role in granting Rimbunan Hijau an illegal permit to log the huge Kamula Doso logging concession. That recommendation has never been implemented and Iamo still sits on the Forest Baord.

Last week, Iamo was in the witness box defending his approval of the Ramu nickel mine’s marine waste dumping plans in front of Charles Scerri.

For more information about Rimbunan Hijau visit the Masalai i Tokaut website.

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Government wants further studies before Ramu waste dumping approved

Dr Wari Iamo, Secretary of the Department of Environment and Conservation in Ppaua New Guinea, says the government wants 12 months of further oceanographic studies before any waste dumping from the Ramu nickel mine is approved.

Dr Iamo made his comments from the witness box last Friday when giving evidence in a trial which will decide if landowners should be given a permanent injunction stopping any waste dumping into their seas because it will cause environmental harm and impact their subsistence lifestyles.

Over 1,000 landowners are involved in the court case against the mine owners, MCC and Highlands Pacific.

Dr Iamo siad he was aware that a study commissioned by the PNG government from the Scottish Association of Marine Science had recommended a further 12 months of studies and that he believed no dumping should occur until the results of the study were known.

Dr Iamo also revealed that DEC has no experts on its staff like oceanographers, marine chemists or marine biologists and relies completely on external consultants.

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DEC ignorant of Ramu mine ore importation plans

Papua New Guinea’s Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) is not aware that the Chinese owned Ramu nickel mine has an agreement that allows it to import and process ore from overseas mines.

This was the startling evidence given by DEC Secretary, Wari Iamo, in the National Court on Friday.

DEC has already given permission for the construction of the Ramu mine, a 135km slurry pipeline and a processing plant at Basamuk but, cliams Iamo, DEC had no idea that the mine owners, MCC and Highlands Pacific, would be importing ore from foreign mines for processing and would be dumping the waste into the sea along with the tailings from the Ramu mine.

MCC and Highlands Pacific have not revealed where the foreign ores will be imported from or any details about what heavy metals and other toxic substances they will be dumping from these ore’s into the sea.

The importation of foreign ores was a concession granted to the Ramu mine by the government of Michael Somare when it approved a variation of the mine contract in 2007 and the transfer of the majority ownership to MCC.

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