Two plaintiffs pull out of Ramu tailings injunction

TWO of the five plaintiffs involved in an injunction to stop the construction and operation of a deepsea tailings placement system at the $US1.4 billion ($A1.5 billion) Ramu nickel development in Papua New Guinea, have pulled out of the court action.
Two plaintiffs pull out of Ramu tailings injunction Two plaintiffs pull out of Ramu tailings injunction Two plaintiffs pull out of Ramu tailings injunction Two plaintiffs pull out of Ramu tailings injunction Two plaintiffs pull out of Ramu tailings injunction

Sama Melambo and the Pommern Incorporated Land Group filed court papers today to seek leave from the proceedings.

The plaintiffs announced in the local media that they were discontinuing proceedings because they believe that the project partners and the PNG government will develop a satisfactory environmental and development package for the people of the Rai Coast.

The hearing date for the National Court of Madang province is scheduled for August 21.

The project is being developed by Ramu NiCo, a 61%-owned subsidiary of China Metallurgical Construction Corporation (MCC) as project manager, with other Chinese partners including Jinchuan Group, Jilin Jien Nickel Industry Co and Jiguan Iron and Steel (Group) Co, with Highlands Pacific holding 8.56% and an option to move up to 20.55%.

Highlands Pacific managing director John Gooding said the withdrawal of two of the plaintiffs was a significant step forward in resolving the matter once and for all.

"Resolution by negotiation is always a better outcome than legal avenues and we are hopeful that this issue will be resolved in the near future," he said.

Ramu is expected to produce 31,150 tonnes of nickel and 3300t of cobalt per annum in a high-grade concentrate over a 20-year mine life, but resources have potential to increase this by a further 20-30 years.

Progressive commissioning started late in the December quarter last year and production was expected to start in June, with a staged ramp-up through the December quarter.

However, that all changed in March when a group of individuals who claim to have an interest in customary land in and around Basamuk Bay, the site of the proposed tailings facility, won an interim injunction preventing further work on the deepsea tailings site.

Shares in Highlands Pacific were up 9.43% in afternoon trade to 29c.

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