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Ok Tedi mine nears shutdown due to drought
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Friday, 07 Dec 2012

Reuters reported that the Ok Tedi mine, one of Papua New Guinea's largest operating copper mines, is two weeks away from temporarily shutting down due to a drought that has brought river transport to a halt and cut off fuel supplies.

A company official said that the mine which produces about 150,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate a year ships the material by a pipeline and barges more than 1,000 kilometers to silo vessels in the Gulf of Papua before it is loaded on to freighters. Dry conditions have caused problems to shipping from Ok Tedi a number of times in the past.

Mr Nigel Parker MD of Ok Tedi Private Limited said that "We have maybe 14 days before halting production. We've already slowed down. However the situation had yet to reach a stage where the company needed to invoke the contractual clause of force majeure to release it from the obligation to deliver concentrate to buyers on time.”

He said that Ok Tedi sells the ore to 10 smelting companies in Asia and Europe. We haven't declared force majeure, not yet. Low water levels on the Fly River have stopped both the transport of concentrate and the delivery of diesel fuel supplies to the mine. We're still producing concentrate, so our storage sheds are filling up.

In 2011, the mine, majority owned by the PNG Sustainable Development Program Limited was shut for a total of 5 weeks due to separate incidents when a worker was killed and a pipeline transporting concentrate ruptured.

Source - Reuters


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