Plan for tailings dam

Business, Normal

The National, Thursday July 25th, 2013

 A TAILINGS dam is the “single most important additional remediation measure” for the Ok Tedi mine under its mine life extension proposal.

PNG Sustainable Development Program chairman Sir Mekere Morauta announced two weeks ago that  the programme regards environmental impacts of the mine as its greatest challenge and actively pursues improvements in the mine’s environmental performance through OTML.

Addressing the PNGSDP annual general meeting, Sir Mekere said: “Since 2002, OTML has spent more than K3.3 billion on environmental management.

“This includes the Bige dredging and rehabilitation programme, Bigte pyrite storage pits, tailings sulphur removal plant, trans-shipping monitoring, die-back and recovery monitoring, ecology monitoring, industrial waste monitoring and community health assessments.

“The cost of sulphur removal and storage programme alone, began in 2005, reached US$840 million (K1.88 billion) by 2011.

“With dredging and sulphur removal in place and the stable waste dump incorporated in the mine life extension proposal, PNGSDP regards a tailings storage facility as the single most important additional remediation measure.”

A feasibility study on possible sites has begun and is expected to be completed this year. 

PNGSDP is hopeful of a good outcome, Sir Mekere said.

Total cost, including work done last year was US$2.5 million (K5.6 million).

Ok Tedi is now a mature mine and if mine life extension, now before government, is approved OTML will have the financial capacity to re-examine its tailings disposal options.

The mine as it stands today is worthy about K3.2 billion, according to Treasury department, but if MLE goes ahead, it would be worth much more. 

A further 12 years could be added to the mine’s life. 

He said there has been no incremental environmental damage under PNGSDP  majority ownership.