Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Madang's 2nd tailings pipe

Yandera developer looks at disposal options
THE developer of Madang’s second biggest mine is considering a deep sea tailings placement (DSTP) system – similar to the one which has landed the Ramu nickel project developer, Ramu NiCo, in court and further delayed construction of its refinery in Basamuk in Madang’s Astrolabe Bay, The National reports.
Australian-based Marengo Mining Ltd has selected a site not too far from the Ramu NiCo’s refinery and planned DSTP system construction which had been put on hold following an interim injunction taken by a group of landowners who claimed the system would be environmentally damaging.
Marengo is developing the Yandera copper-molybdenum-gold prospect in the Bismarck Range, several kilometres southwest of Ramu nickel’s Kurumbukari nickel-cobalt mine.
Managing director Les Emery confirmed the DSTP proposal yesterday but also pointed out that “a number of tailings disposal methods would continue to be evaluated”.
The DSTP plans were highlighted in Marengo’s June quarter report which was released last Friday.
Three key tailings management possibilities had been identified: a tailings storage facility (TSF) within the Ramu Valley, about 28km from the processing plant; the DSTP, about 100km from the plant site; and combination of TSF and DSTP.
Interestingly, Marengo engaged Coffey Natural Systems of Australia, the same company engaged by Ramu NiCo for its environmental management and deep sea tailings placement study.
“The Ramu valley is the preferred site to establish a TSF because of the flatter terrain, lower drainage management requirements and geotechnical aspects.
“Additional studies would be conducted to determine if it would be necessary to implement the DSTP within the initial 10-year operating life.”
“Oceanographic testing equipment was deployed into Astrolabe Bay, on the north coast of PNG, in an area selected as a potential location for deep seas tailings placement (DSTP).
“This testing is part of comprehensive baseline study activity, required to be carried out before any development and environmental permit is made.
“Prior to the deployment of the oceanographic equipment, public awareness meetings were held at nearby villages.
“These meetings were a great success and will set the foundation for similar meetings, as other activities are undertaken.”
Emery did not specifically answer questions on whether Marengo was following the Ramu NiCo court case and its eventual outcome to decide whether to proceed with the DSTP system.
However, he told The National that the system was included in its definitive feasibility study (DFS) into the development of the Yandera project which was scheduled for completion by the end of this year.
Emery said that during the course of the study, many aspects of proposed mining operations had been considered as part of developing a long life mining operation which would benefit all stakeholders.
“To achieve this outcome, we continue to consider the various components, their suitability of application to the project, their effect on the environment and communities, and their economic viability.
“A number of tailings disposal methods continue to be evaluated, including that of DSTP for the safe storage of inert process tailings, after recovery of sulphide concentrates.
“Land-based tailing storage methods are also being evaluated and the final decision as to what will be included in the mining approval applications will be made early next year.”
He said that based on a the DFS completion date, securing of project financing and permitting approvals the US$1.6 billion Yandera project could be in full production by 2014.
On the other hand, the US$1.37 billion Ramu nickel project was scheduled to be commissioned later this year.

1 comment:

  1. It strikes me as incongruous, the companies that claim to hold in such high value the environment and human rights, are the same companies that do so much damage to both.

    In April, Highlands Pacific managing director John Gooding told miningnews.net that Submarine Tailings Disposal (STD) or Deep Sea Tailings Placement (DSTP) disposal was the only viable solution for Ramu, and if it were forced to move to another tailings option, it would “probably break the project”.

    STD/DSTP is banned in the United States and Canada, and the Australian government has stated it would never be approved for use here, so how on earth do these poor miners ever get a project off the ground without it? But they do, don’t they? Mining is one of the strongest sectors of the Australian economy, despite our stringent environmental protections.

    PNG is in a unique position of strength to call the shots - to hold the miners to at least as high a standard with which they must and do comply in Australia - at the very least.

    Mines come and go. Their fortunes wax and wane with the commodity cycles. They might have a life of 15-20 years and then, having taken everything they can from under the surface, they go. What they leave behind in PNG is unforgivable.

    The miners may huff and puff about pulling out, about their projects not being viable if they can’t do it on the cheap, inflicting the damage that will inevitably ensue to generations of indigenous landowners. But they won’t. The value of the resources over the life of a mine is worth hundreds of millions of dollars, and in some cases billions. Asking for them to make the investment of a few million in proper facilities to house and treat the waste is surely not so great an ask?

    We expect nothing less in Australia. Why not in PNG?