The National – Monday, June 27, 2011
By ANCILLA WRAKUALE
LOCAL communities from sites where pipeline ruptures at the Ok Tedi mine allegedly spilled pyrite into their river system are demanding compensation from the developer.
Pyrite is a natural mineral containing iron and sulphur and is commonly found in rocks, especially those that contain valuable metals like gold and copper.
Pyrite can harm the environment because, upon exposure to air and water, it can produce acid.
The pipeline transports pyrite concentrates 128km from the tailings processing plant at the mine, along the Tabubil-Kiunga highway and onto the underwater storage pits at Bige.
Four ruptures reportedly occurred last month, with another two leakages this month but Ok Tedi claimed it was waste water from the cleaning process as production stopped after the first rupture.
The locals, who gathered at Ningerum station last Thursday, presented copies of their petitions stating their demands and recommendations to Mining Minister John Pundari, Environment and Conservation Minister Benny Allan, North-Fly MP Boka Kondra, Western administrator William Goinau and OTML management representatives.
The two groups wanted Ok Tedi to pay K638 million and K12.5 million respectively.
Locals based their demands on the damage caused to their environment and river system, saying they were unable to bathe or collect drinking water.
Ok Tedi will discuss compensation, based on impact assessment and inconvenience, and asked the state to arrange an independent assessment as soon as possible.
Kiop Kowa, the community representative at Ningrum local level government representing three clans, said the rupture had forced the people away from the river.
Pundari told them an independent body would investigate the claims.