By SHIRLEY MAULUDU
THE East Sepik government is against the idea proposed by Freida River copper/gold project developer, PanAust Ltd, to build a dam to cater for the mine waste.
A team from the provincial administration led by deputy administrator Godfried Raushem met with representatives from the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (Cepa) yesterday in Port Moresby and expressed their view which was part of the points raised in the environmental impact statement (EIS) review.
It took the provincial team approximately three years to conduct a review on the EIS done by PanAust on the project.
Provincial administration mines coordinator Martin Torovi made a presentation on the review to Cepa noting the location of the planned dam as a major concern.
“Right now, we know that the country is really short on revenue generation,” Torovi said.
“However, we have legacy issues from other mines in the country.
“Past experience is what we should look at in terms of the environmental damages those operations have caused.
“It (Freida) will sit on one of the most complicated places, actually on the Pacific Ring of Fire.
“In 1998, there was an earthquake causing the Aitape tsunami.
“In 2018, another major earthquake struck the Highlands.
“And it also had aftershocks.
“Interesting thing here is that Freida sits on one of those faults.
“There is a family of fault structures around the area.
“The question is, if the dam is established there, will it last?
“On the engineering aspect of it, maybe it can.
“However, we are not sure about the extent or magnitude of an earthquake in the future and the sort of destruction it can cause.”
Meanwhile, some recommendations for the EIS as provided by the provincial administration included:
- No environmental permit should be granted now and project to be postponed;
- The developer be tasked to fund research and development studies to convert the tailings and waste rock into energy and reusable by products;
- Thorough site investigation including detailed mapping and structural analysis to be completed to satisfactory standards; and,
- Government must set up an institution to specifically to regulate dams.