Magnitude 7.5 earthquake shuts mining and petroleum operations in PNG

Source: Landslide and damage to Ok Tedi’s copper concentrate pipeline caused by earthquake. Photo credit: Baundo Mereh/Facebook

A magnitude 7.5 earthquake that struck Papua New Guinea during the early hours of Monday morning has caused serious damage.

According to the US Geological Society, the quake occurred 89 km SSW of Porgera, Papua New Guinea at a depth of 35 km.

Reports for near the epicenter suggest that after-shocks have been felt every 20 minutes.

Images filtering from the giant Ok Tedi copper mine indicate serious damage to roads and copper pipelines.

Access to the Fubilan Mine Pit and Mill has been disrupted by landslides.

The pipelines carrying copper concentrate to the river port of Kiunga and pyrite to Bige have also been damaged, raising serious concerns about toxic spills into the environment.

Damage to the mine pit remains unclear at the moment while water supply to the mill has been disrupted.

Meanwhile reports from Mougulu station near the PNG Liquefied Natural Gas (PNGLNG) Project, suggest that a huge red flash and then smoke was seen in the night as people looked towards the Komo / Hides gas fields. Considering the severe impact on the Ok Tedi pipeline, there are concerns about the integrity of the gas pipeline that runs from the highlands to Port Moresby.

In a statement released to the Australian Stock Exchange, Oil Search Managing Director Peter Botten has confirmed that Oil Search’s production facilities in the highlands have been shut down due to the quake. He also confirmed that Exxon Mobil has shut down the PNG LNG operations at Hides. Botten added that all Oil Search personnel have been accounted for and no injuries reported.

Landslide near the Ok Tedi Copper/Gold mine in Western Province: Photo credit Baundo Mereh /Facebook
Landslide blocking road accesses from Tabubil to Ok Tedi’s Fubilan Mine pit: Photo Credit Baundo Mereh/Facebook