By Courtney Pearson
August 13, 2015
DRY weather and poor copper prices have forced the Ok Tedi mine in Papua New Guinea to suspend production.
Low water levels in the Fly River have hindered the transport of copper ore from the operation’s port in Kiunga to customers at the mouth of the river.
The permanent workforce of expatriates and locals will also be reduced by 30 per cent and 15 per cent respectively to “better cope with a low commodity price environment”, Ok Tedi Mining Limited reported.
A skeleton crew would remain at the site for maintenance and security. Operations at the mine will continue as long as critical supplies allow.
“River traffic on the Fly River into and out Ok Tedi’s main river port at Kiunga has been unreliable for some weeks due to low water levels,” the company said.
Ok Tedi Mining Limited compared the current conditions to a similar period between 1997 and 1998, when the mine was shut down for more than six months.
Weather forecasts predicted a 20 per cent chance of rain for the next six months.
The company is working with the Western Provincial Administration on emergency response planning for affected local communities.
Ok Tedi is an open-cut mine which produces about 78,000t of ore and 80,000t of overburden every day.
About 70 million tonnes of combined ore and waste material are mined every year.