By GYNNIE KERO
THE Government wants to end the stalemate in talks over a waste disposal system for the K18 billion (US$5.4 billion) Wafi-Golpu gold-copper project, according to Environment, Conservation and Climate Change Minister Wera Mori.
He told The National yesterday he was going to sign an “approval in principle” for the environment permit to allow the project developers use the deep sea tailing placement (DSTP) “without any further delay”.
The Morobe government and landowners have strongly opposed the DSTP method and prefer to use an on-land dam system to store mine waste.
Mori said the Government was tired of waiting for the Morobe government and landowners to make up their minds.
“We will go ahead. I am ready to sign,” he said.
The Morobe government and landowners met in Lae last week and resolved to reject the DSTP method which the Government favours.
Governor Ginson Saonu said there was an alternative to the DSTP which should be considered.
“The people of Morobe have spoken saying yes to Wafi-Golpu and no to DSTP,” he said.
“To propose a submarine deep sea tailing in Huon Gulf Sea must be prohibited (as) it is unethical and improper.”
Saonu said submarine tailing was prohibited in international gold mining principles and standards which project developers Newcrest Mining Ltd and Harmony Gold Mining Ltd knew about and must abide by.
“Wafi-Golpu mine must be subject to international best practice and principles of which Newcrest and Harmony Gold Mining Company Ltd are members,” Saonu said.
Mori yesterday said the provincial government was supposed to make a submission but only wrote a letter to Marape.
“They did not make a submission. They only wrote a letter to the Prime Minister. Their approach is wrong,” he said.
“All statutory requirements have been complied with or met. We can’t make exceptions. We’ve asked them for a submission but they (instead) wrote a letter.”
Mori said the Environment Council accepted on Sept 10 the environment impact statement for the Wafi-Golpu project and recommended to him to grant an approval in principle to develop the project.
He said this was a result of several requirements and processes that were fulfilled by the joint venture for the Wafi-Golpu copper/gold project in Morobe.
Some of the country’s mines such as the Misima gold mine (Milne Bay), Lihir gold mine (New Ireland), Simberi gold mine (New Ireland) and Ramu nickel mine use the DSTP method and have not reported any negative impact on marine life or the environment.