Mine pollution at Basamuk Bay… We warned about it 10 years ago


Ten years ago, a small group of Papua New Guineans  made a decision to fight  the construction of  multibillion kina  mine Chinese owned nickel  mine  in the Madang province.

The reasons were simple:

  1. Land was going to be taken away from its traditional custodians in Kurumbukari in the Usino-Bundi electorate  and…
  2. the sea, a vital resource for the people’s survival,  was going to polluted by the dumping of tailings into the Basamuk Bay.

I cannot mention some of the names of those who were strongly opposed to this because I do not have their permission. But they remained dedicated and were determined to stop the destruction from happening years before I got involved in the campaign.

It is one part of my life I never regretted.

In 2011, in the course of the campaign,  we produced one of several documentaries  warning of the destruction that was about to happen.  We hoped that in the process, people would be educated and would make the right decision and stop the dumping of tailings or the  construction of the processing facility.

While filming the documentary UPROOTED,  we travelled to Kumumbukari,  where old  Benny Mangua, a chief in his own right and  chief custodian of the land wept because he was going to lose his land forever.

Months earlier, he was told by the Chinese company workers that their village was going to be removed because it was going to become the mine site.  They gave him K500  as a resettlement payment.

Months later, his sons  were evicted from their village by police.  Benny Mangua, didn’t survival long after that. He passed on, a broken man separated from his land.  His family was told not to plant food on land that was later turned into a dumping area for the mine.

His son Peter Peter continued to resist attempts by police and  the company to remove him. One morning, armed police, acting in the interests of  the Chinese mine management,  broke down his house and forced him off his land.

He died  about two years later.

In Basamuk, on the coast,  they built a  nickel refinery.  Landowners went to court  to stop  the company from dumping waste into the bay.  Some were threatened.  The court case was unsuccessful.

Government officials  peddled a narrative  that the waste was “safe” and that it wouldn’t affect the sea.  During a presentation in Madang,  we walked in uninvited and asked the Chinese developers  what they meant when they said the “waste is safe.”  Their response was that the system they used was of international standard.


Members of landowner companies said the people wanted and needed development and that we were stopping their “progress.”  In their ignorance, they listened to the line pushed by the Chinese developer that America was behind it and that we were supporting “an American (Western) agenda.”

In then end, the court ruled in favor of the company.

Today, people complain about the waste disposal in  the one beautiful Basamuk Bay.  The water is red from the waste disposal.  Some of the  older men who selfishly supported the mine and the refinery  are dead.

Their children are living with the destruction they allowed.


5 comments on “Mine pollution at Basamuk Bay… We warned about it 10 years ago

  1. This is so sad. Here we see the ugly truth behind fast-tracked deals, and the irresponsible processing of non-renewable resources. It’s dusgusting.


  2. Pingback: Mine pollution at Basamuk Bay… We warned about it 10 years ago — | MadWatch™

  3. Pingback: Mine pollution at Basamuk Bay… We warned about it 10 years ago | Tribalmystic stories

  4. With deep sadness……..again and again, everywhere, we can’t trust those that claim that our welfare is their “pocket” priority……man has failed us and perhaps God too…..


  5. That is appalling, how did them Chinese manage to get away with treating the People of the land and the environment so unfairly like that in this day and age…???


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