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Ramu project faces further court delay


HIGHLANDS PACIFIC has said its Ramu nickel project has been delayed again, as the National Court in Madang postponed its verdict on the project.

The hearing started on 8 February and focused on a claim “seeking a permanent injunction to restrain the operation from committing an alleged nuisance arising from mining activities, in particular constructing and operating a deep‐sea tailings placement system (DSTP)”.

Both parties made closing submissions in March, however, the court has now postponed judgment from 23 May to 22 June.

“We have not been advised why the extension of time is needed, but we hope that this will be the last delay and come 22 June, a decision is forthcoming,” said Highlands Pacific MD John Gooding.

In September, the National Court lifted an interim injunction that prevented the construction of the DSTP system at the project.

The court injunction was first implemented in March, and arose out of a claim by individuals and groups claiming to have an interest in customary land in and around Basamuk bay, where the process plant site for the Ramu project is based.

After the first injunction, the project faced a six-month delay, but was expected to start up during the March quarter of 2011.

Highlands said it is confident that production at the Ramu project will start in the June quarter, with a staged ramp-up through the year.

The project would produce 31,150 tonnes of nickel and 3,300 tonnes of cobalt a year over a 20-year life.

Highlands holds an 8.56% shareholding in the $1.5-billion project, with China’s Ramu NiCo Management retaining the majority shareholding.

Source: Mining Weekly


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