Mine Tailings threaten bay

Source: The National

JUST two years of operation of the Ramu nickel-cobalt mine has seen tailings smother organisms and sediment in the Basamuk Bay, a research says.

Such has been the impact on the biodiversity that organisms have disappeared, it said.

Marine researcher and biology lecturer from the University of Papua New Guinea Ralf Mana said: “The tailings of the mine disposed into the bay have overridden the organisms and the sea and the sea floor.

“The shellfish, star-fish, worms, sea cucumbers and other invertebrates that live on the ocean sediments are affected.”

Mana and two French researchers from the National Museum of National History in Paris, carried out a study over 30 days on the research vessel Alis and reported on the impact of the tailings. Mana said they had not seen the organisms that lived on the sediment.

“All the organisms have disappeared,” he claimed.

“In 2010 and 2012, similar researches undertaken collected samples of the organisms and sediment on the sea floor.

“Only two years after the operation of the mining, tailings of the mine have smothered the organisms and the sediment. The organisms that live above the sea floor might move away or die.

“We might lose the different biodiversity in the sea because of the tailings.

“I believe the tailing canyon is tilted at six degrees which is too low. This is causing the tailings to accumulate at both sides of the canyon.

“The tilt had caused the tailings to move east and west. This is contrary to the tailing disposal model.”

The researchers were involved in the Maddeep Kavieng Biodiversity Expedition that started in April and ended at the weekend.

The expedition involved taking pictures of living organism and collecting sediment at ocean depths ranging from 200 metres to  1500m.

This is where the organisms live without the use of sunlight but rely on other energy sources to survive