3 Jun 2009

Owners of Ok Tedi mine in PNG say country needs to plan for mine's closure

9:04 am on 3 June 2009

The owners of the Ok Tedi mine in Papua New Guinea say the country needs to plan for the 2013 closure of the infamous mine or the country could face another "human catastrophe".

Ok Tedi's huge environmental problems in the late 1990s prompted BHP Billiton to divest its 52 per cent shareholding to the PNG Sustainable Development Program in 2002.

PNG SDP provides services and funds for the country's severely affected Western Province, and other parts of PNG, out of the lucrative mine's gold and copper profits.

Launching the group's 2008 annual report in Port Moresby on Tuesday, PNG SDP chairman Ross Garnaut outlined the urgent need to prepare for the mine's closure.

Mr Garnault says in the absence of the long term fund that supports development after the mine's closure, one could expect a collapse of services in the North Fly region where the Ok Tedi mine is.

He says that would be a tragedy.