Ok Tedi locals demand K650m compo

National, Normal

The National – Monday, June 27, 2011

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.