SMM10, March 24: the Ramu nickel mine in (Madang), Madang province, is reported to have been closed after weeks of dispute over a mud leak into (Basamuk Bay) in Bassamuk Bay, Papua New Guinea. On Friday, the government, through its mining regulator, the Mineral Resources Administration ((MRA)), ordered the closure of Ramu Nico's operation of the (Basamuk) processing plant in Kina Basamouk from Monday.
Lave Michael, the chief mine inspector, said that two days after the mud leak, an investigation had been conducted and four major defects had been found and remedial measures must be taken to avoid similar disasters in the future. These defects are the lack of ability of operators, the lack of barrier capacity, the lack of overflow containment system, and the lack of maintenance of instruments and machines. Lave Michael said immediate concern was about acid mud spills in controlled areas, which endangered the environment and people and their livelihoods. He said that although there was enough time, the company had not fully resolved the problems identified during the investigation.
In August, a Compan buffer tank at the Basamuk plant site overflowed about 200000 litres of raw mud. The mud overflowed and caused the sea water to change color. Locals have linked it to many health problems, and the Madang provincial government has temporarily banned fishing and eating fish.
Mining Minister Johnson Tuke said, Ramu NiCo violated Papua New Guinea's environmental and safety laws. He reiterated that the course of action taken by the Inspectorate was consistent with the Mining and Safety Act. As minister of mining, he said, he wants all companies to fully comply with the country's laws. He commended the Inspection Division for its due diligence to ensure that similar incidents did not occur in the future.
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