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
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.