16 Mar 2007

PNG Mining Department to discuss Tolukuma tailings system with Emperor

4:43 pm on 16 March 2007

Papua New Guinea's mining department says it will have discussions with the Environment Department and Emperor Mines about the company's tailing system at Tolukuma Gold Mine.

A recent study has found that high levels of toxic metals have been found in the blood samples of people living along rivers in Central Province where the Tolukuma tailings are dumped into.

The Australian study was conducted by Dr Sylvester Kotapu who says that locals who wash, drink and fish in the river are at risk of cancer, deformities, infertility and various illnesses.

The Acting director of Mining, Ron Gawi, says the government is looking at alternatives to Emperor's tailing system.

"The OK Tedis, the Porgeras and the Tolukumas are from an era which basically did allow the disposal of this kind of waste from the mine, but through proper, stringent monitoring by the Department of Environment and Conservation, and our department. But (now) the government position basically has said that we won't allow any more river end disposal."

Ron Gawi says the discussions will take place next week.