Landowners Urged Not To Disturb Basamuk Refinery
Mining Minister Johnson Tuke yesterday urged landowners from the areas around Basamuk Refinery in Madang’s Rai Coast district not to disturb the operation of the facility while an investigation into a slurry overflow into the sea last weekend is underway.
Mr Tuke visited the refinery accompanied by Madang Governor Peter Yama and managing director of MRA, Mr Jerry Garry to inspect the slurry overflow that occurred in the early hours of Saturday August 24.
Vice president of Ramu NiCo, Mr Wang Baowen, received them in the presence of registered refinery manager Bill Hill and other company senior officers. “While the investigation on the slurry overflow is going on, I ask all of you to stay away from the slurry outflow point into the sea. “And do not disturb the operation of the refinery.
“As the government, we are aware of your concerns and we will try our best to ensure a full investigation is completed and presented. It will take some time but we will ensure the root cause is identified and rectified,” Mr Tuke said.
More than 70 landowners and nearby villagers gathered at the Basamuk Refinery old camp and petitioned the minister.
They asked for permanent environment officers to be stationed at Basamuk.
This is to monitor any environmental issues and compensate them for the inconvenience caused by the Saturday August 24 slurry overflow.
On Tuesday August 27 more than 50 landowners from nearby villages to Basamuk Refinery including Mindre, Bobidik, Jangag, Duman, Sulu, Ganglau and Tugiak expressed concerns on the same issue and urged MRA and CEPA to thoroughly investigate and establish the toxicity of the slurry in a transparent manner.
Chief inspector from MRA, Lave Michael, and inspector Joseph Umare, including mining manager from CEPA, Robert Sine, were present to hear the landowners’ grievances. The mentioned government officers arrived at Basamuk on Monday August 26 to carry out investigations on the alleged spill to establish the cause.
A vocal leader from Mindre village and an associate to NGO’s in Madang, Terry Kuning challenged the government and Ramu NiCo to establish the main cause of the slurry overspill transparently and to avoid similar situations in the future.
“The environment damage has been done and we ask the company and the government to compensate us. This must be done soon,” Mr Kunning said.
Other landowners and women representatives present expressed concern on the slurry spill and urged the company to avoid a similar situation in the future that will cause unnecessary inconveniences.
CEPA mine manager Robert Sine thanked the landowners for their patience and understanding despite the slurry spill. He assured them that proper and careful investigation is currently underway and strict measures and guidelines will be imposed after the findings. “We don’t take bribes or favours.
We go by the books and carry out our work in line with laws. We will make sure investigations are done properly and will inform you through Ramu NiCo,” Mr Sine said.
Chief Inspector from MRA, Lave Michael informed the landowners that he will complete the investigation and any measures taken will depend on the outcome of the investigation. Inspector Lave emphasised that his responsibility is highlighted under the Mining Act where he complies accordingly and will not attend to other matters raised by the landowners.
“I am guided by the Mining Act and my job is in line with requirements thereafter. I have disciplined several mines including Ramu NiCo when in breach of safety issues and I will continue to do if any mine including Ramu NiCo is found in breach of their safety laws,” Mr Michael said.
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