PNG NICKEL MINE AWAITS ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT

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Government says waste disposal concerns must be addressed

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Nov. 15, 2008) - Papua New Guinea’s government has indicated that the Ramu nickel mine in Madang province will not start production until comprehensive assessment is carried out on the project’s planned waste disposal system.

Local landowners and businesses have voiced deep concern at plans by the Ramu project’s Chinese developers to dump mine tailings into the sea at Astrolabe Bay.

The concerns were aired at a European Union-organised conference in Madang last week when the Scottish Association of Marine Science, SAMS, presented findings from surveys of marine disposal systems already used in PNG.

[PIR editor’s note: According to the Mineral Policy Institute, controversy has surrounded the Ramu Mine since 1998, due to concerns that plans to dump mine tailings into the ocean. In 2004 the China Metallurgical Construction Company, a state-owned steel company started negotiations to pay around US$500 million for control of the Ramu nickel mine, with media reporting that the move was to ease a raw material shortage for stainless-steel makers such as Shanghai Baosteel. ]

The Governor of Madang, and member of the national government, Sir Arnold Amet says they are awaiting the SAMS report on the projected impact of the Ramu plan.

"Further surveys are indicating a series of deficits and shortcomings in baseline studies and data that really needs to be fully assessed to see what gaps there are that need to be attended to by all the stakeholders, in particular the developers and governments before production starts in 2010."

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