SPILL SUSPENDS OPERATIONS AT PNG GOLD MINE

Ok Tedi Mine waste pipeline breaks

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, May 30, 2011) – A ruptured pipeline has suspended production at the Ok Tedi mine in Papua New Guinea.

Four small ruptures in a pyrite pipeline have caused what Ok Tedi Mining describes in a statement as "spillage in a localized area".

[PIR editor’s note: The Ok Tedi Mine, formerly operated by BHP Billiton, is located on remote Mount Fubilan, near the headwaters of the Ok Tedi River in the Star Mountains of the North Fly District of Papua New Guinea’s Western Province. The mine, which is to shut down by 2013, has had a profound impact on the traditional lifestyle of tribes in the area and on their once-pristine environment since exploratory drilling began in the 1970s.]

The 128 kilometre pipeline transports pyrite concentrates from the mine's tailings processing plant to underwater storage pits in remote Western Province.

The mine says the leaks have been repaired and a cleanup is underway but it is taking a cautious approach.

Production has been suspended until further tests are carried out.

The company has been unavailable to clarify how much concentrate was spilt and over what area.

The PNG Mineral Resources Authority has also been unavailable for comment.

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