Land preferred for tailings dam

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LANDOWNERS from the Wafi-Golpu project impact area of Babuaf and the Morobe government have agreed for a tailings dam to be built on land rather than have waste from the mine dumped into the sea.
That was highlighted during the signing of a memorandum of understand (MOU) between the parties in Port Moresby yesterday.
Governor Ginson Saonu said he would always support what he deemed to be beneficial to the people.
“My position as governor is that the people in the province should benefit from the project as according to what they are entitled for,” he said.
“I do not want the country to repeat any mistakes from the previous mining projects with Wafi-Golpu project.
Among core matters agreed on in the MoU were:
l THEY will not agree for the developer of Wafi-Golpu project to construct and build necessary infrastructure for a deep-sea tailing placement as currently proposed and will insist on finding a safer alternative, including a terrestrial tailings dam and any other effective terrestrial system to be explored by the developer; and,
l The Babuaf shall make available land for a tailings dam to be constructed by the developer provided such a site is considered as meeting the minimum technical specifications for terrestrial tailing dam construction.
Babuaf chief Esra Kwako said he was aware the project had huge resource potential.
And that the people’s plea for more benefit should be taken into consideration by the Government and developer.
Prime Minister James Marape, during a recent Parliament sitting, said the project would be a large-scale underground mining project and was ranked as a world-class copper-gold resource.
“This project is situated in Morobe, between Huon Gulf and Wau-Bulolo,” he said.
“The project is owned by Harmony Gold Mining Ltd and Newcrest Mining Ltd on a 50-50 shareholding basis.
“If the State decides to exercise its right to take 30 per cent equity, both companies will proportionately dilute their shareholding.”
Marape said the project would be developed in three stages over a total life-span of 28 years at a cost of US$5.4 billion (K18.48bil). However, Marape also said a critical issue the Government was concerned about was the project’s mine waste management plan, where deep sea tailing placement had been recommended.
“The State is having discussions with WGJV (Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture) on why this has been proposed and the level of impact on the environment,” he said.
“Additionally, the Government is now finalising the fiscal and non-fiscal terms for negotiation consistent with the policy directive or mandates, with a view to signing the project agreement by the end of September.”


  • We the coastal communities of Labuta LLG stand United against deep sea tailings to our sea. We depend on the sea for our livelihood.

  • In a tailings discharge of a Gold mine we have 30 to 40% solids and 60 to 70 % solids. In the solids it is still ore so it will contain Iron, copper, silver and gold not recovered in the process. The solids also pose a great treat to fishing reefs as they will accumulate cover and destroy the reefs where marine life is abundant. The solution will contain Weak acid Dissociate Cyanide (WADCN)compounds i.e Iron cyanide, Cupper Cyanide in some places depending on the ore type Mecury Cyanide. All these WADCN compounds in solution are discharged the current CEPA permit limit for DSTP is 20ppm. The 20ppm is only an hourly grab sample that is a limit which must not be exceed but what they really need to have as a limit is the “volume” of WADCN being discharged into the sea. WADCN is unstable when the Cyanide breaks away from the metals copper, iron etc..the metals in solution are dangerous to marine live and the people who fish around the area.

    All Mine Operators will not want a Tailings Dam because it is extra cost. To build and maintain the Dam and the Cyanide destruction process will have it’s own costs. To put the icing on the cake a Tailings Dam will also become a major constraint in the operations as when the Dam is full the operations or production will have to shut down.

    In the MOU stake holders must agree for an Environment and Health audit to be conducted every 2 years or so by a recognised world organisation around the SML and LMP areas.

    Governor for Morobe, the people and PMJM must be well informed to make the best decisions.

  • Agree with Ngayaba’ s comments. The National Government must not let history repeat itself for the 6th time. Past governments have allowed mining companies to come into our country and dum tailings into our river systems. First at BCL, then at Porgera followed by Ok Tedi. By then we should have learned and come up with environmental policies and regulations for investors to adhere to but we did not. By allowing Newcrest to dum it’s tailings from the Lihir mine to into the sea. And for the fifth time we also allowed Ramu-Nickel to do the same. When will we learn? The effects on the environment and the people who depend on it will be ever lasting. It will take 100s of years for the rivers and seas to get back to their original states.

    I have been in the mining industry for a while dealing with tailings handling and storage. It is a very cheap option for the investors to dump tailings into the river or the sea than to build a tailings storage facility and manage it. Other excuses they provide for not building a tailings dam is all bulls**t.

    The government must not compromise the safety and lively hood of our people over money. These big corporations cannot get away with such practices in other countries like Australia where the environmental laws are very strong. They come to our country and exploit our resources, damage our pristine rivers and seas and get away with it easily, leaving long lasting impacts on our land and our people.

  • I am very concern building of sea tailing dump into Huon Gulf sea is very critical and affecting more than 80% of population living alone the coast, this has been discussed some few years ago. WGJV management need to consider the fact about damages that will be caused. Thankful Morobe Governer on behalf people has taken the lead.

  • A very simple NO to the proposal of dumping waste into the Huon Gulf will save all creatures in the sea, sea jtself and human lives on the coastline in all coastal provinces. Read Genesis chapter 1. God gave man the authority to look after His creation. Let us follow Gods instruction and He will bless us. The lives of the people is important than the money.

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