Ramu Nice Case

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Principles of Preventative Action and Precaution and the Medaing v Ramu Nico case

Medaing v Ramu Nico [2011] PGSC 40 - (Ramu Nico case)
The principles of Preventative action and Precaution basically places an emphasis on the importance of being proactive and employing measures that can be used to minimise or prevent the environmental impacts of mining or any activity that pose a high likelihood environmental damage and pollution, particularly in relation to the manner with which business is carried on or the way waste is disposed.

The principle of Precaution and Preventative Action provides that actions on environmental matters should be taken even if there is a lack of total scientific certainty, often reversing the burden of proof and placing it on those who claim that an activity is not damaging. That is to say despite evidence proving otherwise the burden of proof lies on those who assert that no pollution or environmental damages will ensue from a particular mining activity.

Though not expressly applied, In the Ramu Nico case the principles of precaution and preventative action were used; in that the trial judge in the court of first instance, in deciding issues relating to pollution was guided by these principles. The main issue that gave rise to the application of these principles related to the existence of evidence, by way of expert opinion, research and studies conducted, suggesting no pollution would come about from Deep Sea Tailing Pipe Discharge (DSTP).

In addition the company pointed out that steps would be taken to ensure that the tailings would not be toxic to marine life. But it was pointed out by trial judge in the court of first instance that despite the existence of evidence proving otherwise, “it was very difficult to predict with certainty what the effect of DSTP would be.”

Furthermore it was also presented by the company that in the event that the tailings did not behave as predicted and were toxic, contrary to studies...
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