A Papua New Guinea court has told a Chinese nickel miner to stop building a pipeline to dump millions of tons of waste into the sea, reports said Monday, in the latest controversy to hit the operation.
The court in Madang province ordered the Chinese-run Ramu mine to halt work on the pipeline, which was designed to carry five million tons of slurry a year into the sea, The National newspaper said.
The Ramu mine, operated by the Chinese Metallurgical Construction Group (known as MCC), was preparing to blast coral reefs in the impoverished South Pacific country to make way for the pipeline.
Judge David Cannings ordered MCC to stop work "that involves ... damage or disturbance to the offshore environment including all coral blasting or popping of dead or live coral and laying of pipes," the report said.
The order follows July's brief closure of the mine for health and safety reasons, and violence by rampaging mine-workers that brought operations to a halt in May.
"This injunction is a massive victory for us, definitely a David-and-Goliath struggle," said Tiffany Nonggorr, the lawyer representing Madang landowners who sought the injunction.
"Landowners have stopped the Chinese, who have spent 1.4 billion US dollars to build this mine," she added. "The mine's proposal is just too risky. There are grave environmental concerns."
The mine is expected to yield about 31,000 tons of nickel and 3,300 tons of cobalt, and play a major role in PNG's efforts to ease widespread poverty.
China is also a customer of a huge liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, the biggest in the country's history and which analysts say could double its GDP.