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.