Posted 23 February 2011, by Indigenous Peoples, Issues & Resources, indigenouspeoplesissues.com
The World Bank has stepped in to support the dumping of toxic waste from the Ramu nickel mine into the seas off Papua New Guinea after the European Union decided to pull its funding.
A World Bank review in 2003 said categorically that marine dumping should not be used in areas such as coral reefs that have important ecological functions or cultural significance or in coastal waters used for subsistence purposes, but that does not appear to be troubling the World Bank today. The World Bank is funding the efforts of the chief scientist supporting the Ramu nickel mine’s waste dumping plans, Tracy Schimmield, and is paying for oceangraphic studies, monitoring of the tailings as they pour out of the waste pipeline a review of the mine’s Operational Environmental Plan and the training of local staff to monitor the dumping.
This funding from the World Bank, which will be directed through the Scottish Association of Marine Science, comes despite the fact indigenous landowners are challenging the Ramu nickel mine’s waste dumping plans, which they say will cause inevitable harm to their seas, coral reefs and subsistence lifestyles. The landowners application for a permanent injunction to stop the waste dumping is part-heard in the National court but this has not dissuaded the World Bank from intervening in support of the waste dumping.
The bank is also funding Schimmield and SAMS to draft site specific guidelines for the Ramu dumping and that at the Lihir gold mine.
Schimmield’s work for the PNG government assessing the impacts of marine waste dumping at the Misima and Lihir mines in 2009/10 was funded by the European Union, but they have decided not to fund any on-going work specific to the Ramu nickel mine and its marine waste dumping.
Schimmield gave evidence in court this week, where she appeared as a witness for the mine owners, that while the impacts of the waste dumping could not be accurately predicted she supported the mine being allowed to dump its waste into the sea so the impacts could be assessed.
The World Bank has not offered any assistance to the indigenous landowners challenging the waste dumping plans, a fact reflected in the weight of lawyers in the courtroom for the waste dumping trial. While the mine owners and regulators had six lawyers at one end of the bench, including a Queens Council from Australia, another lawyer from Brisbane and four lawyers from Port Moresby, the landowners were represented by a single lawyer based in a Provincial town.
Source: Papua New Guinea Mine Watch