OK TEDI Mining Limited (OTML) commenced temporary suspension of its operations as a result of dry weather, the company reported on 12 August.

Ok Tedi said the duration of the suspension was uncertain, but the company continues to actively monitor the situation.

Almost all employees will be stood down and they will receive an allowance to help meet basic needs.

Employees who have been stood down will be sent back to their homes as quickly as possible.

Several hundred personnel will be retained on site for care and maintenance of facilities and provision of essential services, Ok Tedi said.

Ok Tedi said dry weather had resulted in river traffic on the Fly River in and out Ok Tedi’s main river port at Kiunga being unreliable for some weeks due to low water levels.

Diesel stocks for power generation and mining operations could not be sustained, and replenishment of food stocks was also affected.

Transport of copper concentrate product to Port Moresby for on-shipment had been unreliable creating uncertainty with regard to cash inflows necessary to sustain operation.

Ok Tedi said the low river flow impacts operation of the Ok Menga power station, which is the main source of power for Tabubil and the OTML operations.

As a result power rationing commenced in Tabubil and Kiunga, the company said.

Ok Tedi likened it to a similar weather pattern in 1997 – 1998, which resulted in operations being shut down for more than six months.

Weather forecasts for the next six months indicate a 20 per cent probability of normal rainfall, the company said.

Ok Tedi said management is focused on sensitively handling the changes that will impact the workforce and communities and ensuring that the mine is positioned for an efficient restart when weather conditions allow, and for long-term business viability.