The National – Monday, June 27, 2011
By ANCILLA WRAKUALE
PRODUCTION at the Ok Tedi Mine (OTML) in Western province restarted last Friday following the issuance of a “change notice” signed by Minister for Environment and Conservation Benny Allan in Port Moresby.
Production was suspended on May 28 after four leaks were discovered in the tailings waste pipeline along the Tabubil-Kiunga highway.
The change notice allowed the mine to resume production using alternative ways to manage its mine tailings until the pipeline is repaired.
At the same time, the mine was continuing its investigations into the cause of the pipeline ruptures and repairing sections of the line.
Since the suspension of production, the company has lost an estimated K420 million.
Meanwhile, Mining Minister John Pundari has made commitments to people in the mining impacted areas of OTML for an independent investigation team to conduct study into the continuous ruptures from the pipeline that runs from its tailings processing plant to underwater storage pits located at Bige.
Pundari said this last Thursday during a visit to OTML mining site.
He was accompanied by Allan, Secretary for Department of Environment and Conservation Dr Wari Iamo and representatives from the Mineral Resource Authority (MRA).
The purpose of the ministerial visit was to see the situation on site and allow for talks with the local people and OTML management and to decide on the next step forward.
The pipeline, which was commissioned in 2008, transports pyrite concentrates 128km from the tailings processing plant at the mine, along the Tabubil-Kiunga highway and on to Bige underwater storage pits.
The pipeline was originally designed by independent pipeline experts and is said to have a life span of 20 years.
Pundari told the people at Ningerum station in North Fly electorate that it was important to allow for an independent investigation team to study the cause of the ruptures.
Meanwhile, a total of four ruptures occurred so far at KM90, KM80, KM87 and KM84.5 from the Bige storage pit on May 6, 12, 15 and 17 respectively.