MELBOURNE (Reuters) – A nickel processing plant owned by Metallurgical Corp of China (MCC) that spilled mine waste into Papua New Guinea’s Basamuk Bay faces compensation claims and possibly closure, the head of the country’s minerals authority said on Thursday.
MCC’s Ramu nickel plant located in Madang, on the country’s northeastern coast, spilled waste into the bay over the weekend which caused the surrounding ocean to turn red and left a muddy residue on the rocky shoreline, according to locals and photographs of the incident.
The spillage occurred when a plant operator did not notice a pump failure during a maintenance shutdown, causing a tank to overflow and mining waste to disperse into the ocean, Jerry Garry, managing director of PNG’s Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) said.
“From an environmental point of view, obviously the slurry discharge… has already caused damage to the ocean and the livelihood of the people because they will not be swimming and they will not be fishing in the area any more,” he said.
“There will be summons to pay compensation. There will be other punishment imposed by CEPA. I’m really not too sure as to what the nature of the penalties may be,” he told Reuters.