St Barbara withdraws PNG ops forecast after worker death, pipeline fault

June 3 (Reuters) - Australia’s St Barbara Ltd withdrew the annual output forecast for its Papua New Guinea operations, after mining was halted following the death of a worker last month and a fault was found in its deep-sea mining waste disposal pipeline.

The gold miner said on Thursday inspections found the failure in the pipeline at its Simberi operations, after which the company stopped disposing waste through it and notified the Conservation and Environmental Protection Authority.

Deep-sea tailings placement pipelines enable mining waste to be disposed in the ocean and have faced heavy scrutiny of late amid concerns over the environmental damage caused by dumping waste offshore.

The cause of St Barbara’s pipeline failure was unknown, but no environmental harm had been reported, the company said.

The Mineral Resources Authority has not yet permitted the restart of mining operations at Simberi following last month’s worker death, although some site maintenance and grade control drilling has been allowed.

St Barbara’s withdrawn forecast was for gold production of 80,000 to 90,000 ounces this year from the Simberi operations, which made up 29% of the miner’s total revenue in 2020. (Reporting by Tejaswi Marthi; Editing by Devika Syamnath)