PNG's Ramu nickel mine closed temporarily

2:26 pm on 24 October 2019

Papua New Guinea's Ramu nickel mine in Madang province will be closed temporarily, the country's mining minister says.

Basamuk Bay

Basamuk Bay Photo: Facebook/ Elisha Wesley Mizeu

Johnson Tuke said the mine's operator, Ramu Nico, a subsidiary of the Metallurgical Corporation of China, had breached PNG's environmental and safety laws.

The Conservation and Environmental Protection Authority has conifirmed that in August 200,000 litres of toxic slurry spilt into the sea from the mine's refinery

The spill turned the sea red in Basamuk Bay and was linked by locals to numerous health problems.

The Madang provincial administration has put a temporary ban on catching and consumption of fish.

Prime Minister James Marape this week said there would be a new independent report into the spill.

Mr Tuke has told local media that while investigations were underway, the mine operations would temporarily shut down.

The Conservation and Environmental Protection Authority found heavy metal contamination within the local waters is within acceptable levels.

Environment Minister Geoffrey Kama said most of the spillage was subsequently contained, and that everything was back to normal for swimming and recreation in the waters.

However, he said people should refrain from eating fish for another month or so, pending further testing of fish samples.

A recent report by an international team led by Swedish scientist Alex Mojon and commissioned by Madang's provincial government pointed to a catastrophic impact caused by waste from the Ramu mine on the marine environment.

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