The Ok Tedi

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In Prime Minister O’Neil’s second address to the National Press Club of Australia in Canberra, he draws attention to the damage that can be caused to the environment, and the people who live there, when big companies do not exercise proper care. The Ok Tedi located in Papua New Guinea is often referred to as one of the worst man-made environmental disasters in the world, well known for its disposal of mine tailings into the local river system, which led to an international lawsuit and ultimately to the abandoning of the project. Australia-based BHP Billiton, is the world’s biggest mining company and in 2001, they sold its profitable Ok Tedi mine after having destroyed more than 2,400 acres of rainforest. (Perlez). The mine produces 20% of PNG’s GDP but it has also disrupted the traditional food system and the lives of more…show more content…
Like many indigenous movements, the campaign against the Ok Tedi mine has more complex objectives than simply closing the mine. The movement sought compensation for the damages to the environment and to limit further pollution of the river. Participants hoped that the mine would continue to operate, providing economic benefits and opportunities, though not at the cost of the river and surrounding rain forest. Even though the campaign and lawsuit against the Ok Tedi mine tried to balance the two objectives, they were often misunderstood. When Indigenous movements diverge from an antidevelopment agenda, they run into the risk of being seen as “greedy” instead of “green”. To this day people argue about the balance between the economic benefits to be gained from keeping the mine open (to local people and central government) and the impacts on people and the environment (felt by local people on their own)
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