Harmony and Newcrest admit Hidden Valley mine pollution

Harmony Gold and Newcrest Mining have, for the first time, publicly accepted their Hidden Valley mine in Papua New Guinea has caused pollution problems in the Watut River.

This is a significant admission from the two mining companies, in the face of mounting community pressure, as they have only previously spoken about 'higher than expected sediment loads' in the river system.

The companies have also announced steps to seek a 'constructive resolution' of the pollution problem in consultation with local people and their MP Sam Basil. 

This will include the setting up of an expert technical advisory panel to review the scientific data on the the pollution which is believed to be caused by iron pyrites which have reacted with water in the river to form sulphuric acid

The companies say the advisory panel will 'likely include international specialists with best practice experience' and the membership of the panel and its Terms of Reference will be agreed with Mr Basil.

Mr Basil had been threatening legal action on behalf of his constituents over the pollution and advised people not to accept nominal compensation payments from the miners for garden loss as this could affect their rights to future and much more substantial compensation.

Harmony and Newcrest have also recently been targeted by the ACT NOW! community who have sent over 80 emails to company executives calling on them to 'come clean' over the pollution problem, work with local people to ensure proper remediation and pay adequate compensation.