An Independent Evaluation of Deep-Sea Mine Tailings Placement (DSTP) in PNG
Following on from my previous post concerning Australian mining interests in PNG, I thought it would be important to share with you a research project which started in 2007 and ends in early 2009 – and which I am hoping, will open up a can of worms (I mean that in the most positive manner) regarding the waste management practices of PNG’s mining industry.
The research project is an independent evaluation of Deep-Sea Mine Tailings Placement (DSTP) in Papua New Guinea, funded by the European Union through its 8th Development Fund.
The research project is being conducted by the Scottish Association for Marine Science, one of the oldest oceanographic organisations in the world (founded in 1884 by Sir John Murray) and Scotland’s premier marine science research organisation committed to increasing knowledge and stewardship of the marine environment through research, education, maintenance of research infrastructure, and knowledge transfer.
Its main objectives are to critically assess all existing information on past (Misima) and present (Lihir) mine operations using deep sea tailings placement (DSTP) in Papua New Guinea and provide guidelines for future DSTP marine environment monitoring in the context of international best practice.
Not only will PNG benefit immensely from the findings of this research project – but so too should the world.
The purpose of the project, which is also a Mining Sector Support Programme (MSSP – a EU initiative), is to evaluate existing deep-sea tailings placement practice in order to establish a consensual, clear, environmentally defensible, enforceable policy on the disposal of Deep Sea Tailings in PNG.
The objective of the MSSP is to sustain PNG’s economic performance through mineral production and exports, to increase employment opportunities, to alleviate poverty, and to mitigate environmental impacts through mining.
The study will involve a compilation of all existing information from a range of sources including: mining companies, the Department of Environment Conservation PNG, and Research Institutes, on the existing mining operations using DSTP in PNG (Lihir, Misima).
Information on similar projects around the world will also be used to support the evaluation.
The critical assessment will identify what further fieldwork is required. This will consist of a discrete programme of activities carried out over a relatively short period and will include physical oceanographic, sedimentological, geochemical, plankton/nekton and benthic biological investigations.
Let’s just hope that the PNG Government will not only pay attention to the research project once the findings have been published – but will also act upon the recommendations.
NOTE: Research Project Information:
- Run-time: 15 – 02 – 2007 until 15 – 01 – 2009
- Contact: Dr Tracy Shimmield
- Project Coordination: Dr Tracy Shimmield
- Contractor(s): European Union 8th European Development Fund
- Researcher: Scottish Association for Marine Science