Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Ramu tailings case date set



THE trial date for the deep sea tailings placement (DSTP) legal battle against Ramu NiCo management (MCC) and state stakeholders has been confirmed for Sept 21-Oct 1 at the Madang National Court, The National reports.

At directions hearing yesterday, defendants Ramu NiCo, Mineral Resources Authority, Environment and Conservation Department and the state maintained that the trial date should be kept and the trial preparation should be fast-tracked while the plaintiffs should file and serve any affidavits to prosecute their claims.

Justice David Cannings heard three applications which were returnable yesterday:

* First defendant Eddie Tarsie’s application for an expedited trial and related matters;

* Sama Melambo and Pommern ILG’s application to withdraw from the proceedings; and

* Plaintiffs Tarsie, Farina Siga and Peter Sel’s application to have the matter referred to the alternate dispute resolution (ADR) courts for mediation.

Cannings ruled that the plaintiffs should file and serve additional affidavits and notices by Sept 13 and the defendants by Sept 17.

He also expressed concern that the application for mediation was too late in the litigation process; however, he would hear the notice of motion on Friday.

Cannings also accepted an invitation, in principle, from Ramu NiCo to visit the DSTP site at Basamuk, Rai Coast, but not before the trial.

He said the site visit could take place after the close of the submissions but before he hands down his decision.

The plaintiffs had been granted an interim injunction since March, halting work on the DSTP offshore facility construction claiming that the tailings were environmentally damaging to marine life and their livelihood.

Yesterday, Cannings granted leave for Melambo and Pommern ILG to cease the litigation proceedings.

Outside the court, Ramu NiCo said yesterday it would make good preparations for the trial while always ready to start the settlement discussion with the plaintiffs any time this week.

It had sent a letter to all parties on Sept 5 but had not received an indication from the remaining three plaintiffs.

 Ramu NiCo also said that it was seeking legal advice and would be making applications to seek cost and undertakings on damages from third parties who were believed to have financed the litigation.

In a separate but related move last week, four LLG presidents and a magistrate of the area filed affidavits in the Waigani National Court saying that they had not authorised Tarsie, Siga and Sel to be party to the proceedings initiated in March against Ramu NiCo and the state.

The K3.1 billion project was due to go into production at the end of this year.

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