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Chinese Mining Firm in PNG Apologizes for overflow of Slurry

THE Ramu Nico Management (MCC) Ltd has apologised to the country for the unfortunate slurry overflow that spilled into the harbour last Saturday.
Vice-president Wang Baowen apologised to Mining Minister Johnson Tuke, Madang Governor Peter Yama, Mineral Resources Authority managing director Jerry Garry and landowners at Basamuk in Rai Coast district for the mishap.
Baowen said the company’s management was extremely concerned about the incident and conscious of its possible impacts and would take every measure possible to contain and manage the spill.
“Even though the slurry spillage occurred accidentally and not out of company’s negligence to industrial requirements and standards, we will work very hard to improve so this does not happen again,” he said.
Tuke and Yama expressed concerns about the incident which had pictures of the affected area posted on social media bringing public uncertainty and criticism.
They emphasised that such incidents needed to be avoided and for the project to operate following all state and mining protocols in order to promote confidence among all stakeholders especially the landowners and people of Madang.
Tuke said he would meet with the Environment, Conservation and Climate Change Minister Geoffrey Kama and issue a joint statement on the matter next week regarding the measures being taken to manage the environmental impact as well as an investigation into the cause of the spill.
Yama said his government was committed to serving the interests of the people and supporting major investors like Ramu NiCo.
“I as the governor of Madang have the responsibility towards my little people and nothing else,” Yama said.
“When you (Ramu NiCo) do the right thing, my people are happy, I am happy and you will be happy doing business.”
Meanwhile Garry expressed his satisfaction with Ramu NiCo for solving the initial critical issues and asked the company to provide further information on heavy metal concentration in the slurry before the overflow, the amount of heavy metal into the harbour (sea), the quantity of slurry that went into the sea and metal concentration.
According to MRA’s preliminary findings, Garry said the slurry overflow was from one of the slurry neutralisation tanks in the early hours of Saturday morning after maintenance work; two slurry pump control systems failed causing a loss of primary containment and tank overflow for almost 48 minutes.
“The overflowed slurry flowed into an emergency retention pond and some slurry bypassed the diverter gate then flowed into the harbour for less than 28 minutes,” Garry said.
“The authorities (MRA and Cepa) were informed on Saturday afternoon, and officers were dispatched to the site by Monday afternoon to conduct a thorough investigation which carried on until Wednesday.”
MRA confirmed closure of the affected ocean front after company community affairs officers had communicated with villagers not to use the affected area for recreational purposes or fishing. “The investigations will determine the nature of the slurry, including toxicity, pH (acidity) levels and other heavy elements discharged and how best to mitigate the slurry already discharged into the ocean.”

The National/Pacific Mining Watch

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