The Ramu nickel and cobolt mine is projected to open sometime in 2010 with construction costs estimated at $1.7 billion.

The mine is majority-owned by the Chinese State through its China Metallurgical Construction Corporation and will supply stainless steel mills in China.

The mine site where the nickel and cobalt ore will be dug out of the ground is at Kurumbukari which is located in the foothills of the Bismark Ranges approximately 75km south west of the provincial capital of Madang. The upgraded ore will be pumped, as a slurry, through a 134km pipeline to a refinery located at Basamuk Bay on the Rai Coast. At the refinery, the slurried ore will be processed to produce either high-grade nickel and cobalt metal or alternatively a high-grade nickel intermediate product - source     

Production from the mine is forecast to peak at 31,150 tonnes of nickel plus 3,000 tonnes of cobalt per year - source     

In 2005 the Mineral Policy Institute published a report describing the serious economic, social and environmental risks of the Ramu project - a copy of that report can be downloaded below

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MPI Report sept 05.pdf600.71 KB

Controversy

Submarine tailings

Since 1998, the Ramu Mine has been the subject of considerable controversy in both Papua New Guinea and overseas due to concerns that its ocean dumping (submarine tailings disposal or STD) operation could adversely affect the ecology of the local pristine Astrolabe Bay and Bismark Ramu sea.

In March 2010, the National Court granted landowners a temporary injunction stopping construction of the tailings dosposal system - read more.

The first pdf file below provides a brief history of the mine, the STD issue, and the arguments against it being allowed.

The second pdf is the Lutheran Church commissioned review of the risks of the STD plan. 

Informed consent

Campaign advert, 2005Campaign advert, 2005Many people whose lives will be impacted by the mine have been completely ignored and have not been included in any compensation agreements. The Landowners Association's set up by the government only represent a tiny minority of landowners.

The pdf file below contains a history of the failure to obtain informed consent.

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Who are the landowners.pdf62.97 KB

Mine undervalued

A leading PNG geologist says the Ramu Nickel mine has been massively undervalued and is another example of the “broad daylight rape” of PNG’s resources. Jerry Garry claims the $40 billion mine has been sold to the Chinese for just 5% of its true value [http://bit.ly/boPEd7].

Social problems

Increased gambling, prostitution and alcohol consumption are all on the rise in the Ramu nickel mine region according to a report to the Madang Provincial administration by the Provincial Mines Office. The report also includes allegations of environmental damage and landowner confrontations with incomers.

Slurry pipeline

THE Ramu nickel slurry pipeline's proximity to the Madang Highway poses a threat to the environment in the event of a vehicle accident or natural disaster, says a leading Papua New Guinean ecologist. It has also been criticized for the poor workmanship and erosian problems it has caused along the Lae-Madang highway - source       

Working conditions

The project has been plagued by disputes with local workers. China Metallurgical has been accused by PNG officials of forcing locals to work in sub-standard conditions. In February 2009, PNG's labour department said conditions violated labour laws, citing inadequate food, sanitary facilities and housing [http://bit.ly/bkuMdq]. In May 2009 construction at the mine site was halted for a week after a fight involving around 70 Papua New Guinean and Chinese workers shut operations. Fighting erupted among workers and villagers angry at Chinese managers over an industrial accident involving an employee at the remote site [http://bit.ly/csICq9].

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News

New reports of a toxic spill

Source: 
Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

Highlands Pacific denies reports of pipeline closure

Source: 
Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

Minister confirms mine shut down

Source: 
Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

Minister orders MCC to stop work

Source: 
Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

Landowners want land matters resolved before MOUs signed

Source: 
Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

Ramu mine fight "under control"

Source: 
Post Courier

Four airlifted after fight between Chinese and local workers

Source: 
Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

Tensions between Chinese and local workers spark again at Ramu mine

Source: 
Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

MCC in dire straits in Australian iron ore project

Source: 
Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

Troubled Waters: How Mine Waste Dumping is Poisoning Our Ocean, Rivers, and Lakes

Troubled Waters: How Mine Waste Dumping is Poisoning Our Ocean, Rivers, and Lakes is a new investigative report from Earthworks and MiningWatch Canada that documents how mining companies are using the world's waterways as dumping grounds for their toxic mine wastes.

These mine wastes, or tailings, can contain up to three dozen dangerous chemicals, including arsenic, lead, mercury, and cyanide.

Read the rest of this entry »

Source: 
Payal Sampat from Earthworks