Mining Waste Management Policy Vital

by Fabian Hakalits – EM TV News, Port Moresby

A legal policy framework to guide developers in the mine, oil and petroleum sector, will be developed to protect land from environmental impacts.

The waste management policy will be developed specifically for mines, operating in Papua New Guinea.

This set of new laws will regulate the management of waste in a more suitable and environmentally-friendly way.

According to Secretary of the Mineral Policy and Geo-hazards Management Department, Shadrack Himata, Papua New Guinea has no Waste Management Law, a guide for mine operators and developers, operating within Papua New Guinea’s jurisdiction.

Since the first mine in Papua New Guinea, the famous Panguna Mine in the then North Solomon’s Province, there has never been a law on waste management and disposal of mine tailings.

On June 2013, EMTV News queried this particular issue, on which Chairman of the Law Reform Commission, Dr Eric Kua said: “Since mining activities begun in the 70’s, only guidelines have been applied to protect the environment and was to change.”

The process in enacting this law to regulate mining tailing activities was discussed earlier in 2013 that reviewed laws relating to management and disposals.

Himata, admits there has been no law on waste management, and only guidelines were used.

A concern was raised by this media, how landowner’s rights and losses will be protected once this law is effective.

The Memorandum of Understanding signed today in Port Moresby, for the development of a Waste Management Policy, is the outcome of many consultation meetings.

A deal was signed between Mineral Policy and Geo-hazards Management Department, Conservation Environment Protection Authority, formally known as the Environment and Conservation Department, Mineral Resources Authority and JICA, to develop a policy framework for waste management on the disposal of tailings.

Reviews by the Mineral Policy and Geo-hazards Management Department, showed PNG lacked comprehensive policies and regulation frameworks to control increasing mining activities in the country, resulting in considerable amount of mine pollution affecting surrounding environments in mining areas.

PNG currently has nine operating mines and these mines have their fair share of contribution in terms of mine wastes whether generated from the mine or industrial waste from fuel; that needs to be managed well.

And people, particularly landowners, have raised these concerns over times like in the Ramu Nico in Madang, OK Tedi in Western and the list goes on. Panguna is a learning experience.

Conservation Environment Protection Authority, Managing Director Gunther Joku, said the development of this new law is a new beginning, for authorities to operate in a sustainable and well management environment.

The environment is a priority and JICA is partnering with PNG to control mine waste management in the country.

Chief Representative, Shigeru Sugiyama, said technical cooperation will ensure development of PNG’s strategic waste management law for the mining sector was economically stable and environmentally responsible.

Himata told EMTV News, the five year project will see the development of the law. Building capacity and adopting technologies that will improve protection.

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