Thursday, April 15, 2010

Landowners win case against the Chinese Mine in Madang

The landowners’ case against the Chinese State owners Mining Company (CMCC) plans for deep sea tailings placements (disposal) was ruled in their favour at the Madnag National Court on Wednesday (15.04.2010).

CMCC got the approval from the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) to discharge 100million tons of tailings annually into the Basamuk Bay, despite the fact that they had a weak scientific backing.

The landowners from Basamuk and neighboring villages challenged the tailings disposal plan in the court of law through their lawyer, Tiffany Nonggorr. The victory on Wednesday means the injunction on the CMCC to pursue that disposal stands, till sometimes in May where it gets to the courts again if the defendants want another go at the courts.

This is a significant win for the landowners because it’s not easy to challenge the foreign state owned company, and the government. It has been said that PNG is the land of the unexpected, however, we do expect two possible turn out in the whole case. The Chinese mining company and the PNG government may push for a change of judge if they decide to get back to court or short cut the process by getting the parliament to change the law to make it legal for them to dump into the sea. Both options are corrupt and will tamper with the spirit of true justice.

Meanwhile, Greg Anderson, Executive Director of the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum (PNGCMP) expressed concern over the Ramu project legal battle (The National, Monday April 12 2010). Mr. Anderson said that, “the whole mining and petroleum industry is monitoring this case closely and the outcome of the hearing is critical to the future investment environment of the country”. This is a very cheap shot at the country. The simple fact is CMCC and the government of PNG have to prove to the satisfaction of the court of justice that the disposal will not have a significant impact on the Basamuk marine eco-system.

How much money was spent by CMCC is not the issue here, because the Basamuk and Raicoast, coastal areas communities depend on the sea for their livelihoods. And if Mr. Anderson claims that Ramu nickel mining company is to be a world class mine, than it has to be proven by its high degree of compliance, and that means, no political satisfaction, but the hard scientific evidence. In fact the landowners are challenging the CMCC and the government with hard scientific evidence.

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