SYDNEY Jan 29 The Ok Tedi copper mine in Papua
New Guinea was operating normally on Wednesday, amid legal
attempts to shut it down over waste disposal practices, a
spokeswoman for the mine said.
Papua New Guinea's National Court on Friday ordered the
operating company Ok Tedi Mining to stop discharging rock waste
into a river system - effectively forcing the mine to halt
operations, according to media reports, which also said the
papers would be served on Tuesday.
"We still have not been served any papers ordering the
operations to stop, so for us it is business as normal," Ok Tedi
Mining spokeswoman Estella Cheung said.
Government and court officials could not be reached.
Prime Minister Paul O'Neill, who has said closure of the
mine would have "horrendous" economic consequences for the
country, was traveling and unavailable for comment.
The mine, which has produced 4.5 million tonnes of copper in
concentrate since 1987, ships the material by a pipeline and
barges more than 1,000 km (600 miles) to silo vessels in the
Gulf of Papua, before it is loaded on to freighters and sent for
smelting in Asia and Europe.
Papua New Guinea's government took control of the mine last
year and counts on its revenue to help support the national
economy, is reportedly attempting to have the court order
O'Neill in September announced Papua New Guinea would take
over full ownership of the mine after hastily enacting new laws
The laws also quashed a 12-year-old decree providing former
operator BHP Billiton immunity from
prosecution for environmental damage stemming from the mine in
Ok Tedi has accounted for as much as 10 percent of Papua New
Guinea's gross domestic product in past year, though its
economic importance is diminishing as the mine's reserves are
Annual production peaked at 212,000 tonnes in 1995. Output
in 2013 was 105,523 tonnes, the lowest since 1988.
(Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Ed Davies)