10 Mar 2011

Link suspected between PNG fish deaths and mining spill

8:40 pm on 10 March 2011

Government officials in New Ireland province in Papua New Guinea confirm that fish are dying as the result of a probable chemical spill from a gold and copper mine on Simberi island.

The Post Courier has reported that the Department of Environment and Conservation has ordered Allied Gold, which operates the mine, to shut down.

The project manager with the province's mining division, Sam Passingan, says there is evidence of a spill, though they cannot yet determine the specific cause.

He says larger sea creatures such as dugongs and turtles are also dying.

"There is evidence now that people who normally use the sea to bath, they are experiencing itchiness on their bodies. By just looking at the sea in the bay around the processing plant area it is brownish in colour."

Allied uses what's called the deep sea tailings placement system to dispose of its mine waste.