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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Feb. 12) - The adverse media publicity on the Ramu nickel project has challenged the Chinese developers to "press ahead" with the project and make it a success.

It is understood authorities in Beijing have been taken to task by the negative publicity last week following a recent visit to one of the project sites at Basamuk in Madang by Labor Secretary David Tibu.

Mr. Tibu’s recommendations for improvement to working conditions at the Basamuk site has been widely publicized in the media and created public uproar.

It is understood Beijing has given the go-ahead to the developers on the ground to "fast-track" the project while meeting all requirements in Papua New Guinea.

The project will be developed by Chinese state-owned China Metallurgical Construction Company through its Papua New Guinea subsidiary, Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd.

[PIR Editor’s Note: According to PIR news files, China’s Metallurgical Construction Corp (MCC) signed an agreement with [the PNG government], joint venture partners Highlands Pacific Ltd, Mineral Resources Madang Ltd and the Mineral Resources Development Corp. in August 2006 giving MCC and the joint venture partners the right to develop and mine nickel deposits in Ramu. The deal granted MCC a 10-year tax holiday as incentive, as well as import duty and excise tax exemptions on its various imports.]

Ramu NiCo Management has engaged subcontractor, ENFI (PNG) Co Ltd to carry out much of the preliminary stage work underway. Construction is expected to begin in April.

The MCC hierarchy wrote to Tibu last week commending him for his advice on the challenges faced during work on the "preliminary stage" of the project.

The company pointed out that Ramu was a challenging project that never got off the ground over the last 40 years and the present "general lack of local infrastructure and industrial resources" warranted cooperation from all stakeholders.

The MCC hierarchy added, "We pledge our full cooperation on this matter and look forward to continuously working with your department to ensure these and related issues are properly addressed."

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