8 Sep 2010

Developers in PNG called on to rebuild trust with landowners

3:22 pm on 8 September 2010

A commmentator in Papua New Guinea says the standoff over the huge Ramu nickel project can be solved if there is more openness.

The Chinese run company, RamuNiCo, which has spent more than a billion US dollars on the unfinished project, is pushing to have an injunction stopping the construction of an offshore tailings disposal system lifted.

There are also landownership issues, and the company is threatening to wind the project down.

The Institute of National Affairs' executive director, Paul Barker, says the Government and developers have failed to apply the lessons learned from the Bougainville conflict that land owners must be kept fully informed.

He says they need to strive to rebuild trust.

"The second step is really to go through all the difference options and the pros and cons of those options. Now, certainly, you can have a scenario where none of the options look attractive and seem to exceed the level of environmental damage that the community considers acceptable. But really one needs to go through the difference options, particularly under the conditions of a very wet climate which reduces the options of onshore tailings."