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MINERAL POLICY INSTITUTE P.O. Box 21 Bondi Junction NSW 2022 Australia Internet: http://www.mpi.org.au/main.html

NEWS RELEASE August 31, 2001

Highlands Pacific, the Australian mining company planning to dump waste into a bay near Madang on the north coast of Papua New Guinea, has had its badly flawed plans exposed.

Based on a leaked report, the PNG Independent newspaper today revealed the company's plans and the environmental plan for the waste dumping are so inadequate that no realistic assessment can be made of the mine's impact.

Highlands Pacific Ramu Nickel Mine if built will pipe 100 million tons of waste into the sea at Astrolabe Bay, the home of PNG 's multi-million dollar tuna fishery and a prime tourist destination because of its rich coral reefs.

"It is totally unacceptable for an Australian mining company to be proposing to dump waste into the sea, especially on the basis of the woefully inadequate environmental assessment done for it" said Mr. Geoff Evans, Director of the Mineral Policy Institute.

The Mineral Policy Institute's report "A Review of Risks Presented by The Ramu Nickel Project to the Ecology of Astrolabe Bay, Papua New Guinea" was commissioned by the Lutheran Church in PNG, with scientific assessment carried out by scientists from James Cook University, Flinders University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science.

The report shows that, in the opinions of the Mineral Policy Institute report's reviewing scientists, there may be deficiencies in the environmental plan regarding potential impacts of disposal of wastes from the proposed Ramu mine's processing plant, including:

The evidence in the new report leads to a conclusion that the risks associated with the Ramu Project's Submarine Tailings Disposal in Astrolabe Bay are significantly greater than the company's plan indicates, including the likelihood of contaminating the local reef system and parts of Astrolabe Bay with mine waste.

"Highlands Pacific plans could create another Ok Tedi style disaster. The best that can be said about its proposal is that there is simply no credible information about the impact."

"In the same week as 30,000 Ok Tedi and Fly River landowners get the legal go-ahead to sue BHP in Australia, another Australian mining company is once again engaged in irresponsible development, pushing a proposal which would be rejected as fatally flawed in Australia," Mr. Evans concluded.

For further information contact Geoff Evans at 0418 261 404. Alternative number if Geoff Evans is unavailable: Igor O'Neill +62 812 966 0492

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