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Garnaut is silent on Lihir pollution claims


Garnaut THE ISSUE OF deep sea tailings being dumped from the Lihir Gold Ltd mine in New Ireland is “a vexed issue likely to haunt [outgoing chairman] Ross Garnaut,” it was claimed on an ABC television program last night.

The ABC’s premier current affairs program, 7.30 Report, featured a major segment on the paradox of Prof Garnaut [right], one of Australia’s leading proponents of action on climate change, defending a mine that seems to be despoiling an entire marine environment.

Reporter Greg Hoy also alleged that the PNG government has refused to release a European Union-funded study into deep sea tailings by the Scottish Association of Marine Science.

It is understood the research team that compiled the report, which was completed in May, expressed great caution about the deep sea tailings method – which has been rejected by governments worldwide including in Canada, the USA and China.

The Lihir mine, of which Prof Garnaut was founding chairman, mines one million ounces of gold a year and uses deep sea submarine disposal to dump millions of tonnes of waste - including cyanide and heavy metals - into the sea.

Prof Garnaut - who has claimed that the Lihir mine is both low cost and upholds high environmental standards – did not make himself available for interview on the program.

Nor would Lihir Gold comment or allow pictures of its operations.

PNG lawyer Tiffany Nonggorr, who is representing Madang landholders in a similar struggle against the Ramu nickel mine’s plan to use a deep sea tailings approach, said the method is favoured because it is cheaper than other forms of disposal.

Dr Gregg Brunskill, of the Australian Institute for Marine Science, said coral, fish and other animals are all affected by deep sea tailings. He said the Lihir waste already covers 60 square kilometers of the ocean floor.

Dr Brunskill said this had already endangered a tuna fishery and village food sources.


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Charles Edmonds

In my view Garnaut was not even man enough to answer questions put by 7.30 reporters.

He claims to be an enviromentalist but all he did was get his pockets filled by Julia Gillard with her carbon tax con and propaganda.

John Ukengu

Waste disposal costs money. If a mining company has to deal with a weak and corrupt government, there will be effort to cut costs.

The most expensive cost will be the removal of waste. It is easier to put it in the sea or river.

There are two industries that exploit the health of the community: the mining industry and the cigarette industry.

Both try to claim that their by-products are harmless.

Jessie Popotae

Professor Garnaut is a chairman of many corporate boards in PNG and he has really benefited at the people and country's expense.

A future PNG government should never put him on any more PNG boards as he has not done the right thing for the country in his position of board chairman for many years.

Barbara Short

Keith - A very balanced review of the 7.30 Report.

It makes my blood boil to think of the callous way an Australian economist can dismiss the possible spoiling of the food supply for thousands of Papua New Guineans as "something nothing".

When I taught at Manggai High School in 1982-83, one of my wonderful students was a fellow from Lihir who had suffered from malnutrition as a child.

His family was very poor and he worked for staff members. I helped him find his school fees. He was a great runner and won a local Kavieng marathon race at the time one of his friends died tragically from leukemia in Kavieng hospital.

This friend had lived on an island not so far from where the Americans tested their atomic bombs and I always wondered if this had caused his death.

In the future, I wonder if the local population that relies on fish for their daily protein will suffer some other illness as a result of these tailings.

I do hope that when Newcrest takes over, it will live up to its high professional standards and investigate the setting up of a safe waste disposal system for the Lihir tailings which does not endanger the future well-being of the people of Lihir and the whole of New Ireland.

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