19 Jan 2007

Mining giants sued for 4 billion US dollars over PNG copper mine

7:04 pm on 19 January 2007

Australia's mining giant BHP Billiton and operators of the Ok Tedi mine in Papua New Guinea are being sued for civil damages that exceed 4 billion US dollars.

Lawyer Carmillus Narokobi is representing 13 thousand people from seven clans of the remote Ningerum village in the Western province.

Mr Narokobi says the lawsuit seeks compensation for destruction of the villagers' traditional habitat along a 38 kilometre stretch of the Ok Tedi River.

"This system have been affected. But allowed by the government of Papua New Guinea, allowed by the shareholders, allowed by the directors and allowed by the whole world community to continue to dump millions of tonnes of raw material into one of the most and the largest river system of the world."

Carmillus Narokobi said according to the world's most expert report it would take 300 years to clean up the toxic dump.

Ok Tedi Mine is a major producer of copper concentrate for world smelting markets and is the single largest business contributor to the economy of both the Western province and PNG.