MINISTER FOR ENVIRONMENT AND CONSERVATION AND CLIMATE CHANGE ON CORRECTION OF MISREPORTING IN MONDAY’S POST COURIER PAGE 7, ARTICLE ENTITLED:”PRELIMINARY RESULTS CLAIM MINING GENOCIDE” AND 6:00 PM TV WAN NEWS
- As the new Incoming Minister for Environment and Conservation and Climate Change and having been briefed on the Ramu Nickle Project Slurrry Spill Incident and further foilow up activities; I refer to the Post Courier article of 11 November 2019 entitled “Preliminary Results Claim Mining Genocide” and the TV Wan 6:00 PM news on Monday, 11th November 2019.
- The article and 6 PM news by TV Wan contain incorrect information and feature information which may be misleading andI wish to correct them.
- Based on the brief I received from CEPA, when the RamuNiCo Mine’s Basamuk Slurry Spill Incident occurred on 24 August 2019, CEPA dispatched its authorized technical officers to site to assess the nature of the spill, the visible impacts on the environment and to obtain marine water samples for tests and analysis to determine the level of heavy metals in the marine water. The marine water samples were sent to ALS in Brisbane, Australia to analyze. The results came back to CEPA and an independent expert was appointed by CEPA to review and interpret the results from ALS. A report was prepared based on the findings and presented to Parliament, Cabinet and the Madang Provincial Government by the former Minister for Environment and Conservation and Climate Change, Hon. Geoffrey Kama.
- I stress at the outset that, the raw slurry concentrate from Kurumbakari mine when entering the storage tanks at Basamuk Plant overflowed and spilled into the plant premises of which some volume of 80,000 liters escaped into the sea at Basamuk Bay. This raw slurry known as oxidized laterite ore contains no added chemicals from the Basamuk process plant.
- The report concluded that the presence of heavy metals in the marine water was within the permit conditions or close to baseline. The report further recommended that investigations on sediments, fish tissue and other marine life as well as coastal impact areas must be undertaken.
- Thus, pursuant to this recommendation, CEPA engaged a team of Independent Investigators referred to as the CEPA Independent Investigation Team (CEPA IIT). The IIT is comprised of experts with backgrounds and experiences from marine biology, toxicology, fisheries, mining and heavy metals, mathematical analysis, socio-economics, legal, policy and governance sectors.
- The Independent Investigation Team was nominated by CEPA to implement the recommendations from the study conducted by the previous Investigation Team is a neutral and independent group of experts who are professionals in their respective fields assembled to conduct investigations into the slurry spill on the nature and extent of impact the spill may have caused.
- Ms. Ursula Kolkolo was invited to participate in the Independent Investigation Team and hence although not formally engaged yet in lieu of the intention, invited to attend the Madang Provincial Government’s proceedings of 6th to 9th November 2019.
- The Madang Provincial Government (MPG) through the Provincial Administrator’s Office invited CEPA and other government line agencies to a collaborative meeting with a group of experts lead by Dr. Alex Mojon to undertake investigations into the impact of mining activities by the Ramu Nickel Mine (MCC).
10.CEPA had therefore, requested the independent investigation team to conduct an investigation into the impact of the MCC slurry spill incident, in particular, the impact on fish, marine flora and fauna, the seabed, and socio-economic impacts to join the meeting organized by the Madang Provincial Government to witness, observe and assess the work by Dr. Mojon and his team.
- The independent investigation team was asked to attend the meeting by Government as the nature of work to be similar to the work the Madang Provincial undertaken by commissioned by Madang Provincial Government for Dr. Mojon’s team to conduct. the independent team was
12.CEPA had requested the independent team to join the initiative of the Madang Provincial Government and undertake a preliminary assessment of the sampling sites as well as witness other activities conducted by the team commissioned by the MPG.
13.The independent team sent three (3) experts (Dr. Alphonse Kambu, Ms. Judith Raka and Ms. Ursula Kolkolo) to the meeting organized by the Madang Provincial Government to witness discussions regarding work to be undertaken by Dr. Mojon and his team. and contribute to the
14.The primary role of the Independent Investigation Team nominated by CEPA was to attend the collaborative effort/initiative by the MPG and contribute constructively to the work of the MPG team from a neutral and professional standpoint.
15.A second role of the Independent Investigation Team was to fiurther witness the sampling methodologies ana sites by the MPG team led by Dr Mojon.
16.Also, the CEPA Independent Investigation Team in attending the collaborative meeting and/or activities of 6th to 9th November 2019 was to conduct a preliminary assessment of the sites and circumstan ces before the full team could be dispatched to the area to carry out actual investigations.
a) The news article (Paragraph #4) reported that Scientist Ms. Kolkolo and Judith Raka and Lawyer Alphonse Kambu investigated and tested chemical samples on the environmental damages in Madang told a briefing last week that the sea around Madang was contaminated as a result of the Slurry spillage from one of the surge tanks at RamuNico’s Basamuk processing plant.
b) Further to the news article (Paragraph #5 &6) reported that. Ms. Ursula Kolkolo said the sea was contaminated as well as the environment and goes on the further auote that…without any substantive research done we can safely say the sea is already contaminated”.
17.The independent investigation team is in the process of conducting its investigations and as such refutes any claims or statements done in relation to any conclusions or observations on the status of the environment of Madang Province following the Madang Government deliberations of 6th to 9th November 2019. Provincial
- CEPA would like to state succinctly that Ms. Ursula Kolkolo is not an employee of CEPA or an official member of the CEPA commissioned independent team and/or a mandated representative of CEPA, and as such her views and statements do not reflect the independent team nor CEPA’S official stand on the matter of the Ramu NiCo Mine Slurry Spill of 24th August 2019.
19.CEPA nominated independent team will continue to work from a neutral and professional standpoint to support the cause and by undertaking the independent investigation on the slurry spill and its impact it has been requested to conduct.
20.The Prime Minister, Hon. James Marape, has recently called for an inter comprehensive and agency approach to Conduct a much wider Investgauo environment and the socio-economic aspects.
21.The audit or investigation called for by the Prime Minister will investigate the current state and trends in terms of the impact on the environment and socio economic impacts of the mining activity beyond the impacts of the slurry spill incident of 24 August. The geographical scope of the investigation will also be wider than the scope of the slurry spill investigation.
22.The Prime Minister has assigned the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Steven Davis, to lead the inter-agency team to address the issue. The inter- agency team will be comprised primarily of relevant line Ministries including CEPA, Mineral Resources Authority (MRA), National Fisheries Authority (NFA), and Ministry of Health and HIV/AIDS.
- At a meeting chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister, Hon. Steven Davis, on Tuesday, 12 November 2019, and attended by the Minister for Environment and Conservation and Climate Change, Hon. Wera Mori and the Minister for Mines, Hon. Johnson Tuke with their Managing Directors and senior management staff, consensus was reached on this wider and comprehensive investigation to be undertaken on the impacts of the Ramu NiCo mining activity on the environment and the socio-economic aspects.
24.The team will develop a much wider Terms of Reference to undertake a comprehensive investigation with a much wider geographical scope to determine the nature and extent of impacts on the environment and the socio-economic conditions of the local communities in and around the Mine site, the process plant area and the surrounding areas.
- The findings of the inter-agency investigation will be presented to the Prime Minister, Cabinet, Parliament and the relevant stakeholders.
26.Given the prolonged and prevailing uncertainty of the eco-toxicity status of the Basamuk Spill area and precinct coastal and inland areas, since the August 24th, 2019 spill and the subsequent impact on peoples’ livelihood investigations to determine eco-toxicity levels and status of impact areas normalcy are to enable relief from this perception and reinstate imperative. The independent investigation commissioned imperative. The independent investigation commissioned by CEPA and the bigger investigation commissioned by the Prime Minister will be the basis of determinations of a contaminant free environment or otherwise in the impact area
- Given the seriousness of the matter, the national government is concerned and wishes to establish facts through these investigations so as to put an end to the problem.
- Therefore, CEPA requests that the Media houses, the social media and the general public to not speculate, but they must be responsible in their reporting and present facts to the country and the people of Madang and Papua New Guinea. They have a duty to present facts to the people and COuntry.
- The media houses, socia media and the public must not speculate nor present incorrect and misieading information. By doing so they will not only cause chaos, confusion and instigate unnecessary emotional stress the national effort among the public but derail the constructive effort the national government is now putting in place to address the issue.
HON. WERA MORI, MP
Minister for Environment and Conservation and Climate Change