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Sonstige Probleme

Press release of NA, November 9, 2000, Port Moresby

(reproduced on file by "Save the Elbe")

Norddeutsche Affinerie supports the search for a solution to the environmental problems at the Ok Tedi copper mine in Papua New Guinea.

Representatives of Norddeutsche Affinerie (NA) and the environmental group "Rettet die Elbe" have travelled to Papua New Guinea in the period from 5th to 9th November 2000 with the aim of holding talks there on the development of the environmental situation at Ok Tedi

Since 1987 the Ok Tedi mine in Papua New Guinea has been producing copper concentrates with a copper content of approx. 187,000 tonnes p.a. Ok Tedi is economically and socially of great significance for the state of Papua New Guinea, since about 20 % of the revenues from exports are earned from the mine.

The owners of the mine are the state of Papua New Guinea to 30 %, BHP, the Australian mining group, to 52 %, and INMET, the Canadian mining enterprise, to 18%.

The copper concentrates from the Ok Tedi mine are sold on the world market to international copper smelters, including Norddeutsche Affinerie AG.

Due to the extreme geographical, geological, and climatic conditions, the measures to protect the environment usually taken at other copper mines are not fully realisable at the Ok Tedi mine. Consequently, fine dead rock must be discharged in a river system, and this has had an adverse impact on the waters and bordering shore regions. The measures implemented by the mine operators have led to an improvement, but have not brought about a fundamental solution to the environmental problems.

Norddeutsche Affinerie has been regularly informed by the mine operators on the measures introduced to improve the situation. lt expressly welcomes the fact that all groups involved in Papua New Guinea, wether mine operators, part owners, government, population, environmental pressure groups or the World Bank, are working together towards a solution to the problem.

Various scenarios to improve the situation have meanwhile been explored, including closure of the mine. Closure of the mine would result in rapid relief for the environment, but would nevertheless have grave adverse economic and social repercussions for Papua New Guinea.

Under a long-term contract NA takes 80,000 tonnes of Ok Tedi concentrates p.a. with a copper content of about 23,000 tonnes. NA thus takes approx. 15 % of Ok Tedi's output.

NA does not own any ore deposits itself and is obliged to procure its concentrates worldwide. lt has to stand up to tough international competition from copper producers which operate to some extent with very low environmental standards, and as a result have cost advantages. In addition, the competitive situation is worsened by international distortions of competition.

In processing copper inter alia from copper concentrates, NA meets the most stringent environmental standards. lt has significant achievements to its credit in environmental protection, and today is therefore one of the world leaders in its industry. Were NA to cease processing Ok Tedi concentrates, the same quantities would be processed under substantially worse conditions environmentally. This would result in an additional strain on the environment.

NA's position is in compliance with the credo of sustainable development. Sustainable development assumes that economy, ecology, and social compromise are seen as one entity, and that all three aspects receive equal attention in any calculation.

The trip of NA representatives and the group "Rettet die Elbe" is the result of joint discussions. The NA delegation consisted of Dr. Michael Landau, member of the Board, Dr. Hans-Joachim Velten, head of the Department of Environment Protection and Mr Hans-Jürgen Grundmann, chairman of the Works Council.

At a joint press conference in Papua New Guinea on 9th November 2000 NA stated its willingness to participate in a social project which is connected with the Ok Tedi problematic.


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