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Sunday, 29 September 2019

Tailings Dam Construction in Papua New Guinea a Challenge

Tailings dam constructions in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are faced with natural factors such as  high altitude with high rainfall (2000-5000mm), active seismic zone and other geotechnical structural factors which pose threat to the stability of tailings dam and potential failure.  As such, the PNG government has allowed mining companies to discharge tailings into the river systems over the last 30 to 40 years which pollutes the riverine and ecology within the vicinity of the mine impacted communities downstream.  However, the PNG Government intend to discourage riverine tailings disposal and encourage tailings dam construction in PNG.

The current tailings dams in PNG include Hidden Valley Tailings Storage Facility(TSF) and K92 Mine Tailings Dam.

The Porgera Gold Mine discharges its tailings into the Strickland River in the Enga Province. The Ok Tedi Copper and Gold Mine at the Mt.Fubilan, Tabubil in the Western Province discharges its tailings into the Ok Tedi River System.

The Lihir Gold Mine in the Luise Caldera of New Ireland Province places its tailings onto the deep sea floor (DSTP).

The Ramu Nickel and Cobalt Mine at Kurumbukari in the Madang Province also practice the deep sea tailings placement (DSTP).

The Wafi Golpu project is an advanced project with the Special Mining Lease Application lodged with the Mineral Resources Authority and is under technical appraisal by government at its engaged  independent consultants. This project proposed for a DSTP.

The Frider River Project proposed for an Integrated Storage Facility which will contain waste rock and tailings at the same time. The dam will also but used as hydro-dam to generate electricity.

The government of Papua New Guinea will never or might not allow riverine tailings discharge for all future mines in the country. It would be either by practice of building of Tailings Storage Facilities of place them one deep seafloor.


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