24 Mar 2007

PNG enviromental group questions use of having mines in country

11:34 am on 24 March 2007

Papua New Guinea's Centre for Environmental Research and Development has questioned the use of having mines if they are causing damage to the country's people and environment.

A recent study found that high levels of toxic metals have been found in the blood samples of people living along the local rivers near Tolukuma mine run by Emperor Mines.

Locals who wash, drink and fish in the river are at risk of a range of illnesses because of the mine operator's system of dumping the toxic waste directly into the river.

However the government says that for old mines like Tolukuma there are few viable alternatives to this system.

But the Centre's Matilda Koma has called on the government to review the tailings systems of the country's mines.

"If there is just no way that you can control this waste to compensate us fairly for the value that we've actually lost so the people are living the way you are living... otherwise just have no mines. I mean, that's something that no one wants to agree upon but what can be done when you say there is just no way you can control this."

Matilda Koma.