PERTH (miningweekly.com) – ASX-listed Highlands Pacific on Monday reported that the Ramu nickel/cobalt project, in Papua New Guinea (PNG), had been halted by a court injunction on the construction of the Deep Sea Tailings Displacement (DSTD) facilities being constructed at the Basamuk process plant site.
Ramu NiCo, in which Highlands has an 8,56% share, the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA), the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Independent State of PNG are all defendants in the case, in which individuals and groups have claimed to have an interest in the land around the Basamuk bay.
The Ramu project is expected to produce around 31 150 t/y of nickel and 3 300 t/y of cobalt contained in high-grade concentrate, over a 20-year life.
Progressive commissioning of the project started late in the December quarter, and was expected to continue through to the June quarter of this year. Production was expected to start by the middle of this year, with a staged ramp-up through to the December quarter.
Highlands said in a statement on Monday that the DSTD process has been the subject of extensive technical and investigative work over several years, and is regarded as being the safest and most appropriate method for the Ramu project. Ramu NiCo has reported that the project also complies with all the statutory requirements in obtaining and maintaining the environmental approvals, including those for the DSTP.
“It is important to note that the four landowner groups that have been involved in the project since its inception continue to fully support the project as they recognise the positive benefits that will flow through the region and the country,” said Highlands MD John Gooding.
“While this is frustrating, it is not the first time the project has had to overcome obstacles.”
He added that the final construction work and commissioning activities would continue on the remainder of the project.
He also said that Ramu NiCo, the MRA and the State would be acting expeditiously to ensure that the matter will have minimum impact on the project.
However, he added that any delays associated with the latest action could only harm stakeholders at a time when PNG was starting to attract large investments on a number of important fronts.
“It is imperative that investors continue to have confidence in the PNG government and the country as a whole,” Gooding said.