14 Nov 2008

Too early for guidelines on PNG marine disposal of mine tailings, says environmentalist

1:27 pm on 14 November 2008

An environmental lawyer in Papua New Guinea has warned that it's too early to approve guidelines for ocean dumping of mine tailings.

Brian Brunton was a delegate at a conference in Madang last week which looked at the impact of submarine disposal of mine waste.

The European Union-organised conference was an attempt to bring together all stakeholders of the Ramu nickel project for which a pipeline is being planned to dump tailings into Astrolabe Bay.

Scientists and environmentalists say submarine disposal has a devastating impact on the marine environment.

However Mr Brunton fears that approving guidelines on the process is a way of pushing the plan through before proper scientific assessment is conducted.

"In the developed countries, the discretions against granting permits for deep-sea tailings disposal have gone against the miners. The real weight is against dumping tailings into the sea. However in Asia-Pacific where the rules are more flexible, it looks like they want things to go ahead."

Brian Brunton