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PNG’S RAMU NICKEL MINE TO DUMP TAILINGS IN SEA Company says waste will be "neutralized"

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, April 16, 2008) –Ramu NiCO Management Company, the operator of the Ramu nickel and cobalt mine, has promised not to endanger any environment or marine life with its proposed deep sea tailings placement (DSTP).

A company spokesman said that the deep sea tailings discharge was not submarine marine tailings, while submarine tailing discharge system usually discharged the tailing into the shallow sea water.

[PIR editor’s note: Ramu NiCO Management Company is the subsidiary of China Metallurgical Group Corporation (MCC)]

"That is not the way we are proposing to do it," the spokesman said. "The Ramu tailing solid will firstly be neutralised and stabilised before disposal and soluble metals will be precipitated. This process has been verified by positive test results. After neutralization the tailings will be discharged into a canyon 150 metres under the sea level, which is 70 metres below the deepest measured zone of sunlight (euphotic zone); 50 metres below the zone in which upwelling can occur and 30 metres below the deepest measure surface mixed layer of the ocean."

The company has spent up to PGK3.6 million [US$1.3 million] on the Ramu environment study in the past two years.

After what it called exhaustive scientific studies and analysis and following a peer review in 2000, the Ramu environmental plan received Government approval, including approval of tailing disposal using offshore disposal techniques.

These tailing disposal techniques have undergone further environmental refinement since that time. In July last year, Ramu NiCo Management submitted the application for an amended environment permit of construction and operation phases, along with an updated baseline survey report, DSTP basic design and tailing assessment reports.

Subsequently, another peer review was conducted by Cardno Acil from Australia. In November last year, an amended environmental permit for project construction and operation stages was granted by the Environment and Conservation Department including the permit for DSTP.

The spokesman said the company had been in constant consultation with the department, the Mineral Resources Authority and the European Union which supported the environmental program to fine tune and implement the Ramu DSTP system, to further improve project environment performances. "Ramu NiCo Management is prepared to meet with concerned stakeholders, including government agencies and community members, to explain and answer questions they may have about the project," he said.

"We are also fully supportive that a Project Environmental Committee be established, according to the project memorandum of agreement, to continually manage the project environment implementation. If required, we are more than pleased to update stakeholders periodically on our environmental progress, including our DSTP system.’’ The company was confident that with efforts to carefully manage the project environment performances, the best possible outcomes would be achieved for the project and all other participants.

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier:

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