Conditions on Vale NCal not enough - WWF
The WWF in New Caledonia says the conditions given to the Vale nickel processing plant on its re-opening are not enough to protect the environment.
The World Wildlife Fund in New Caledonia says the conditions given to the Vale nickel processing plant on its re-opening are not enough to protect the environment.
The government of the southern province has said the Goro plant can reopen if safety standards are improved, after an acid spill prompted its suspension almost six weeks ago.
It is the sixth spill since 2009, and there has been a growing chorus calling for the plant to be shut for good.
The WWF New Caledonia manager, Hubert Geraux, says environmental groups are waiting to have a meeting with Vale and the government of the southern province to raise their concerns.
He told Mary Baines the conditions relate to ensuring there is not another acid spill, but do not take into account the risk of ongoing environmental damage caused by the plant.
HUBERT GERAUX: We know that there are other risks of pollution, from the residue storage basins, about the risk of the hyrdo-geology with the ramsar zone close to the mining site, about possibility of little concentration of sulphur dioxide. There are already some effects on some forest and sub-forests close to the work site. And there are also problems of biological invasions. So we are happy with the first condition that the Southern Province asked to Vale for the problem of acid leak, but what we ask really, is the re-think of Vale project's risk management, for all the risks.
MARY BAINES: How do you feel Vale and the government of the Southern Province have dealt with this whole situation?
HG: I need this meeting to really appreciate their capacity to deal with the situation. What I see is that Southern province takes the position harder on the issue of risk management. I know that they are focussing on acid risk, but I'm not sure they are going to manage in the next weeks all the other problems. Last month, we had some elections in New Caledonia so we are waiting for concrete position, and not only position but also actions, from the new provincial government about this issue.
MB: Six spills in five years. Do you think that Vale can actually give assurances that this isn't going to happen again?
HG: No, no, clearly, no. No, no. Because the risk management is really focussing on acid first, acid leaks first. So for the other risks, we cannot say they are able to deal with this other risks. And it's why we need, we must and we need, meet industry, the province and the other stakeholders to obtain the answers to these questions. But today, we cannot say that.
MB: Is the Vale processing plant open now again?
HG: Yeah, they are restarting the process, yes. It's a very sensitive period about this project and the good choices. Do they have to re-start, do they have to accept the re-start, are the conditions sufficient to restart? There are many, many questions. And I'm not sure they can have the answers to these questions. But for us, the WWF, we are going to put on the table these questions - the questions of governance, but also the question of project risk management. Everything has to be rediscussed.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: