PNG to discipline mining companies in breach of mining laws
Papua New Guinea Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Geoffrey Kama has informed stakeholdersthat his Ministry and the Department of Environment and Climate Change will strictly follow the existing laws to discipline any mining companies in breach of any laws governing the mining industry and there are no short cuts in shutting down the mines.
Kama said this when meeting with the Basamuk landowners on Sunday last week at Basamuk Refinery in the Rai Coast District of Madang province.
He went to have an independent assessment on the Refinery’s’ Saturday 24 August slurry spill into the Basamuk harbor. His senior officers including Managing Director of CEPA, Gunther Joku and deputy managing director, Michael Maue including Madang Governor Peter Yama accompanied him to Basamuk.
Ramu NiCo President Gao Yongxue and his vice president Wang Baowen received the minister and his delegation in Madang and accompanied them to Basamuk.
This is the second visit of a senior state minister after Mining Minister, Johnson Tuke who visited Basamuk Refinery for an independent assessment on Tuesday 27 August in his capacity as the Mining Minister.
The Environment Ministers visit follows after his chief investigators from CEPA, Lave Michael, Joseph Umare and Robert Sine, Manager Mining with MRA were on the ground at Basamuk on Monday Aug 26 to conduct an investigation into the slurry spill.
Kama told the principal Basamuk landowners that Marape-Stevens government will not go ahead and shut down Ramu NiCo Project or Basamuk Refinery as demanded but will strictly follow the laws so that all parties are given fair treatment.
The minister’s call came after the landowners demanded that Basamuk Refinery be closed following the slurry discharge and other outstanding matters including socio-economic benefits.
Last week, Member for Rai Coast, Peter Sapia, Madang Governor Peter Yama and the landowners demanded for the closure of Ramu NiCo Project.
But Kama said investigation into the alleged slurry spill is still underway by the Mines Inspector and Mines Inspectorate alone has the power to shut down the mine and not him.
Meanwhile, Als Environment Testing Laboratory in Brisbane, Australia will analyse the sea water samples collected from Basamuk Refinery to determine the concentration of heavy metal level in the sea area where the slurry entered after slurry overflow on Saturday 24 August at the refinery.
Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd designated ALS Ltd, an internationally recognised laboratory specialising in environmental analysis services to analyse the samples to give credibility to the final report that will be produced by MRA and CEPA.
Vice president of Ramu NiCo, Wang Baowen said the Australian based company was selected after full consideration was given to accredited laboratories in PNG and abroad.
He said after uncertainties and speculations have been created by various groups, Ramu NiCo wants to put these concerns to rest by results ALS Ltd will provide.
“We understand the concerns of our landowners and the government.
We know many people want to engage their own consultants. The best we can do is engage an independent and credible third party like ALS so we all accept their analysis,” Mr Bao said.
“The inspectors from CEPA and MRA who investigated the incident will separately receive the results and make their own recommendations, off which we will accept and implement as required.”
He said ASL Ltd has branches throughout Australia and its head office in Brisbane where the heavy metal testing will be done and results anticipated for return approximately within two weeks from Friday last week.
“Under CEPA direction, we have collected seawater samples from five different locations, the primary one being the slurry discharging point within the harbor.
Samples collected vary in depth from the surface, including five meters below the surface to enable cross section of sampling to determine concentration of potential heavy metal at different layers of the harbour,” Mr Bao said.
“CEPA and Ramu NiCo will receive the test result directly, although separately from the Brisbane analysis laboratory.
“CEPA and MRA will interpret the analysing result and determine whether there are significant impact on the harbour and surrounds.
Ramu NiCo will also use the result from third party, ASL and Basamuk Central Chemical Laboratory to analyse and report to CEPA and concerned government bodies.’’
He said Ramu NiCo is committed to get to the bottom of the investigation by engaging third parties and the notable laboratory in Australia.