Monday, June 9, 2008

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Ok Tedi Mine

Papua New Guinea
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The controversial Ok Tedi copper mine is located at the headwaters of the Ok Tedi River, a tributary of the Fly River, in extremely rough terrain in the rainforest-covered Star Mountains of Papua New Guinea's western province. Prior to the opening of the mine in 1984, this area was very isolated, sparsely inhabited, and ecologically pristine. This pair of satellite images reveals the tremendous environmental impact the mine has had in 20 years. The uncontrolled discharge of 70 million tonnes of waste rock and mine tailings annually has spread more than 1 000 km (621 miles) down the Ok Tedi and Fly rivers, raising river beds and causing flooding, sediment deposition, forest damage, and a serious decline in the area's biodiversity. In the 1990 image, both the mine and the township of Tabubil - developed east of the river in support of the mine - are clearly visible. Lighter patches of green show disturbance of the original forest cover from subsistence agriculture, road clearing, and other infrastructure development. View detailed information

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