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Action freezes plans to dump mine waste at sea

By Rosalyn Albaniel-Evara PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 2, 2011) - The battle between the developers of the Ramu nickel cobalt project and landowners in Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) Madang province is far from over.

The landowners and supporters have filed an appeal with the Supreme Court stopping Ramu NiCo from proceeding with its plans to dump millions of tons of waste in Basamuk Bay.

The appeal was filed on July 27 by the landowners’ lawyer Tiffany Nonggorr against the decision handed down by the National Court last week allowing Ramu NiCo (MCC) Limited to go ahead with its deep sea tailings placement system (DSTP).

Mrs. Nonggorr had also filed an application for an interim injunction to prevent dumping of the mine waste either through the DSTP or by any other means pending the determination of the appeal.

She said yesterday via phone the matter was returnable yesterday and saw lawyers representing all the defendants, namely MCC, the State and Dr. Wari Iamo, all appearing before the presiding judge and Chief Justice Sir Salamo Injia in Waigani. Mrs Nonggorr said Sir Salamo had adjourned the matter to August 19 and before a full bench as all respondents had stated they were not ready to proceed and needed more time to file all their materials.

She said MCC had through its lawyer also given an undertaking not to dump any mine waste or tailings through its DSTP or by any means into the sea pending the hearing of the application for the interim injunction and the determination of the appeal.

A relieved Mrs. Nonggor said "this effectively means there will not be any dumping for the next 19 days."

Meanwhile, a posting social networking website Facebook had stated that another injunction had been imposed on MCC on its DSTP system, preventing it to dump its mine waste.

However, this was strongly refuted by the company who said this was misleading.

The statement said the plaintiffs had sought an urgent injunction pending the hearing and determination of their appeal.

However, Sir Salamo had declined to hear the application following the defendants’ application that there was "no urgency for the plaintiffs’ application based on the actual program as there will be no plan to discharge any tailings prior to August 19.

In the brief mention before the Supreme Court, the Chief Justice declined to hear the application until August 19 where he will convene a full bench to hear the injunctive application.

The court also made various orders as to the steps of filing affidavits while noting the defendants undertaking in his order but no injunction was imposed.

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