Wafi-Golpu JV explains its deep sea waste disposal plan


The Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture has released new information on its proposed DSTP method of tailings disposal for the planned Wafi-Golpu mine in Papua New Guinea. The move is designed to allay environmental concerns, including those expressed by Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu.

Wafi-Golpu is a joint venture between Newcrest Mining Limited and Harmony Gold Mining Company Limited. Credit: Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture

The Wafi-Golpu Joint Venture (WGJV) has issued a fact sheet and explainer videos on its website arguing that the Deep Sea Tailings Placement (DSTP) technique is the best option for its mining project, and allaying environmental concerns.

The project recently received an Environmental Permit, a necessary step towards it receiving a special mining licence.

‘The WGJV has studied tailings management solutions for the Wafi-Golpu Project according to international best practice,’ the report says. ‘These studies have been independently verified as being in accordance with appropriate industry professional standards.’

It says the proposal meets standards set out by the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

The fact sheet notes that PNG has very deep water close to the coast, which it claims makes the method feasible: ‘the Markham Canyon in the Huon Gulf is one of the world’s deepest near-coastline marine canyons.’

Story continues after advertisment...

It adds that PNG’s high rainfall and frequent seismic activity make on-land options more risky.

‘The tailings pipeline through Lae poses no specific harm to the community and is similar to the existing buried sewerage and infrastructure pipelines beneath the road network.’

‘The Markham Canyon is an ideal location for DSTP as it forms a continuation of the Markham River and transports significant amounts of natural river sediment into very deep water. The amount of tailings contributed to the Huon Gulf will form less than 20 per cent of the existing natural sedimentation.

‘The Markham Canyon does not host high biodiversity or fisheries because of the significant natural sediment transport down this conduit to very deep water, including through regular submarine landslide events that scour the canyon.’

The fact sheet claims the DSTP system is not predicted to affect people’s livelihoods.

‘The EIS (Environmental Impact Studies) predict no effect on the coastal environment, productive surface waters, community health or fisheries. The tailings pipeline through Lae poses no specific harm to the community and is similar to the existing buried sewerage and infrastructure pipelines beneath the road network. The Concentrate Storage Facilitate at the Port of Lae has a purpose-built water treatment plant to achieve PNG water quality criteria at the point of discharge.’


Morobe Province Governor, Ginson Sanou. Credit: PNG Parliament

The Governor of Morobe Province, Ginson Saonu, said in a statement that he has concerns over the use of DSTP to get rid of waste from the proposed Wafi-Golpu mine.

‘We are not against the mine. But we reject DSTP. We are convinced that the scientific evidence that points to poisonous and destructive waste being dumped – as “redflagged” in the Reviews organized by CEPA (Conservation and Environment Protection Agency) – are the correct findings.

‘We do not believe, and do not accept, that the so-called consultations held by or with the people along the coast are representative of persons who truly know the meaning and extent of what the DSTP proposes to do – that is, to poison their livelihood.’

‘Our concerns are not centred on profit. Our concerns arise from the fact that dumping of waste into the Huon Gulf will poison the fisheries.’

Saonu said the Morobe government will challenge the legality of a pipeline to deposit tailings into the Huon Gulf.

‘We are prepared to take the matter internationally if forced to do so. Our concerns are not centred on profit. Our concerns arise from the fact that dumping of waste into the Huon Gulf will poison the fisheries.

‘The livelihood of persons living from Siassi, Finschafen along the coast to Morobe Patrol Post will be profoundly affected. It is not a risk that our people are prepared to take lying down. The possibility of a repeat of the Basamuk experience has already been forecast.’

Potential delay?

Last month, PNG’s Mining Minister Johnson Tuke suggested a special mining licence for Wafi-Golpu could be issued by the end of July or early August. However, legal challenges have the potential to affect such a timeline substantially.

In May 2019, legal proceedings brought by the Morobe government effectively put on hold all negotiations related to the project until February 2020.


  1. Erick Maya says

    Stop DSTP because it’s a new activity and a way forward to aquatic bio destruction.

  2. Zibekokino Sasa says

    I want to warn the GoPNG and WGJV mining CO that DSTP is non negotiable.. The people of Morobe will never ever bow down to the GoPNG and WGJV to dump their toxic leathery tailing waste into Huon Gulf waters through DSTP method. We are asking GoPNG & WGJV to use alternative terrestrial waste management system. What is difficult about that? We are saying no to DSTP for following reasons:
    1. Protect our Blue Economy or Fisheries Sector in Morobe which employs over 5,000 people. WGJV can only employ 800 people. Fisheries is renewable sector and could employ more people.
    2. Protect our Community. Many people (over 100,000 people) use Huon Gulf waters compared to Basamuk, Missima and Lihir.
    3. Protect our Environment along the Huon Gulf coastline.

    We will never bow down to you GoPNG and WGJV. NO TO DSTP AND YES TO WAFI GOLPU.

    If you are considering DSTP pack-up and go home to Australia and South Africa.
    Thank you

    Sasa Zibe-kokino
    UMVA – DSTP Secretariat..

  3. Edward Jebo Gisoba says

    Good morning or good day ,I worked those developers once , I know the waste management system step by step, systematically I have withnessed breached polution on site at hidden valley as Fuel Farm supply supervisor. In Oktedi I worked at the Bomb chemical Manufacturing plant site and have withnessed chemical waste management system step by step being breached by mine authorities.

    In the middle of Oktedi mine chemical have destroyed rare species mountain turtles that lived in that part of the environment at Okningi river that runs pararell to the poisonous high grade hazardous chemical bomb plant that we work inside pumping out poisonous liquid stuff to near by Okningi river .

    No one lifted a finger to tell authorities the impact it has to this rare animal’s,mamales that lived and feed on the river.this rare turtle species found only in high star mountains of Tabubil are disappearing fast . We caught one next to the chemical plant 2016 till now I have not seen or heard of this turtle ,meaning its deleeted from this planet earth. Fast forward to 2021 Wafi Golpu in Morobe province, what did New crest mine and Harmony Gold did to Kumalu River ? Nothing but Nothing . They cant fix Kumalu wet crossing or build a permanent bridge or appropriate excess road for the people of morobe daily travel accross the damaging river KUMALU River . All heavy equipment, hazardous chemical containers, food supplies covoyed from lae to hidden valley mine site via kumalu river still causing problems to the locals and the miner. If both developers ignore with total negligent as its duty of care to help build proper road infrastructure in morobe like kumalu excess road to hidden valley mine than , what gurantee they will bring when the Dam waste management system to be built offshore outside lae city?

    The repercussion on man and women and animals & sea amphbians or sea tinny mamales that feed from bottom of the sea will suffer instant death or better still slow death till end.

    The catch here is the developer cant fix the existing morobe road infrastructures that serves Hidden valley and wafi mine yet they ( Miner ) want to built offshore dam waste management system?

    Impossible. The damage is 10 times more than bouganiville civil war that took 20000 lives before the giant miner exit. In morobe 2 million inclusive locals and PNG people will die before both miners exit PNG

    God bless PNG

  4. John Kuma says

    I doubt the ability of DSTP to prevent future destruction to the natural environment and create inconvenience to the neighboring local communities as they depend heavily on their environment for their survival.

    Your research is unsustainable as you can not provide hard evidence and prove to justify your DSTP proposal that it is safe and good to be employed.

    Thank you.

Leave a Reply