Monday, July 19, 2010

Ramu NiCo fails to lift interim injunction on DSTP

RAMU NiCo, developers of the giant Ramu nickel project in Madang, have failed in the Supreme Court to quash an interim injunction to proceed with the construction of a deep sea tailings placement (DSTP) system and get the mine off the ground, The National reports.

A three-judge Supreme Court last Friday dismissed the appeal by Ramu NiCo and its state partners against the lower court’s granting of the interim injunction which had effectively stopped work on the last stage of the construction at Basamuk Bay.

The ruling means that a trial date will be set, probably next month, for the substantive matter to be argued in court.

Four landowner leaders – Eddie Tarsie, Farina Siga, Peter Sel and Sama Melambo – and the Pommern Incorporated Land Group had sought the interim orders in the National Court in Madang in March and April that the DSTP system off-shore of the Basamuk and Astrolabe bays would be detrimental to all landowners along the Madang coastal areas and their entire livelihood.

They also claimed that it was not the best practice of environmental management activity. 

Justices Catherine Davani, Derek Hartshorn and Don Sawong ruled that while they noted the submissions made by Ramu NiCo and its partners, they were also mindful that if the DSTP was allowed to proceed, “the potential environment harm far outweighs the lifting of the injunction”.

“The balance of convenience lies in maintaining the status quo at least until after the trial of the substantive matter,” they ruled, adding that “it is better to take a precautionary approach than to proceed in haste”.

Ramu NiCo and its partners had, in essence, submitted in their appeal that it was lawful for them to proceed with the construction of the DSTP system as agreed to in their joint venture agreement and also based on the mining development contract signed between the parties concerned, including the PNG government and MCC to start mining nickel in the Kurumbukari area of the Bismarck Ranges before the end of this year.

The partners had argued in court that the landowner leaders, in their ILG in this proceeding, only represented their own interests and not that of the bulk of the Basamuk Bay people.


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