Ok Tedi copper mine, Papua New Guinea


In 1994, Papua-New Guinean (PNG) landowners sued BHP in the Supreme Court of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, alleging that BHPs operations at the Ok Tedi copper mine caused destruction of the surrounding environment and of their traditional lifestyle. The plaintiffs alleged that BHP dumped mine tailings waste into the Ok Tedi and Fly Rivers.

See more...
Basic Data
NameOk Tedi copper mine, Papua New Guinea
CountryPapua New Guinea
ProvincePapua New Guinea
SiteOk Tedi mine, Mt. Fubilan
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Specific Commodities
Project Details and Actors
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date1994
Company Names or State EnterprisesBHP Billiton (BHP) from Australia
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Forms of MobilizationLawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Negotiated alternative solution
In January 2007, landowner groups from the Ningerum indigenous people filed suit in PNG National Court against BHP Billiton and the operators of the Ok Tedi copper mine for civil damages exceeding US$4 billion. The plaintiff groups in this case had not signed Mine Continuation Agreements. BHP Billiton and the other defendants have applied to the court to have the proceedings struck.
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.Mine Continuation Agreements are still in force.
Sources and Materials

PNG villagers sue BHP, Ok Tedi miners, Sydney Morning Herald, 19 Jan 2007

Litigating Ok Tedi (Again), Stuart Kirsch, Cultural Survival Quarterly, 31 Aug 2002

Legal action starts over Ok Tedi mine, Asia Pulse, 12 Apr 2000

In a Fouled Jungle, Tribes Win One, Kevin Murphy, International Herald Tribune, 12 Jun 1996

[PDF]Acting globally: Eco-politics in Papua New Guinea, Stuart Kirsch, Journal of the International Institute [USA], vol. 3, no. 3, Summer 1996

BHP Billiton: Environmental Incidents And Fines, 2007 [scroll down to Former Operations Ok Tedi Mining Limited]

BHP Billiton: Court Dismisses Ok Tedi Proceedings, 16 Jan 2004

BHP Billiton: BHP Billiton Withdraws from Ok Tedi Copper Mine and Establishes Development Fund for Benefit of Papua New Guinea People, 8 Feb 2002

BHP Billiton: Legal Action on Ok Tedi Misconceived: BHP, 11 Apr 2000

Ok Tedi Mining: Community Mine Continuation Agreements

Mineral Policy Institute: Cracks in the Facade of BHPs exit from Ok Tedi Mining Disaster Appear, 22 Jan 2007

Judgments of Supreme Court of Victoria, Australia:

21 December 2001, granting injunction to enforce June 1996 settlement

[PDF] 20 September 1995

[PDF] 8 November 1994


[click to view]

BHR webpage

Other CommentsBHP merged with Billiton in 2001 in Australia.
Meta Information
ContributorIrene Pietropaoli
Last update08/04/2014