Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Ramu NiCo unhappy with court ruling

RAMU NiCo, developers of the K3.3 billion Ramu nickel project in the Bismarck Ranges of Madang, said yesterday that they were disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision last Friday not to lift the interim injunction and allow the company to install and operate the deep sea tailings placement (DSTP) facility at Basamuk Bay, The National reports.

“We are now keenly waiting on advice from our lawyers on the full meaning of the decision and its likely effect on the continued development and operation of the Ramu nickel project,” it said in a statement from Madang.

“This project was approved in 2000 and, subsequently at different stages of development, Ramu NiCo obtained the permits required from the PNG government.”

Ramu NiCo said the project had been under construction for more than two years and was now nearing completion, but Basamuk landowners’ court action only started some four months ago.

It said that during this time, it had used about K3.3 billion out of a total budget of K3.8 billion.

However, the company was confident that with a full trial on the issues in the National Court of Madang, the matter would be resolved satisfactorily.

Ramu NiCo estimated that for every day that operation of the project was held up by virtue of these court orders, the developer and its partners, Highlands Pacific Ltd and MRDC, would lose up to K7 million. 

“No company can sustain losses of this magnitude for extended periods and, now, we will find it exceedingly difficult to raise funds to invest in PNG until Ramu NiCo’s rights to develop this project are confirmed. 

“We suspect that this will become more than just our concern once the implications of these issues confronting us are fully assessed by the international investment community and their responses, in turn, are felt in PNG.

“The extended delays will create enormous disruption to DSTP construction and, therefore, the commissioning and operation schedule.”

The company said this would be further complicated by the coming rainy season.

“The impact on the overall plant viability could be far-reaching.”

It said that once it had been briefed by its lawyers, Ramu NiCo would discuss its present situation with project stakeholders, including the other owners, the government and key landowner and provincial government representatives, and it would make another full statement on these developments in due course.



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