Mining Dept joins regional bodies to monitor geohazards

National, Normal

The National, Tuesday 16th April 2013

 THE Mining Department is now affiliating itself with regional bodies in the Pacific and Asia region to establish an effective monitoring system to monitor geo-hazards, Mining Secretary Shadrach Himata says.

He agreed with Mining Minister Byron Chan that there was a need to improve Papua New Guinea’s relations with the Pacific tsunami warning centre in Hawaii and other regional affiliations to focus on tsunami scenarios.

“We hope to achieve this by 2015,” Himata said.

He said currently the Port Moresby geophysical observatory dealt with seismic activities at the national level but some of their roles overlapped with those of the Rabaul Volcano Observatory in East New Britain.

“Currently we get tsunami updates, signals and information straight from PTWC and from other regional stations such as US geological surveyor and Vienna in Austria.”

Himata said negotiations were already in place for mobile company Digicel PNG to send out alerts in text messages in cases of emergencies.

He said this was the department’s ultimate objective to be able to inform people when emergencies occurred so they would be prepared.

“As a start through our affiliation to the Regional Integrated Multi hazard Early Warning system based in Bangkok, 2 years ago, they send us text messages on earthquakes in the Pacific,” he said.

“As it happens, we receive updates daily and that is what we want to do here in PNG.”

“We have to find a way to disseminate the right information that can be understood by the people.”

Himata added that the department hoped to upgrade the Rabaul observatory to a department and give it due recognition.

“Currently, the importance of these activities has been suppressed and underestimated which is why we are working on the Geo-hazards Management Policy for the country but eventually we will have a Geo-Hazards Act or legislation of its own,” he said.