|Govt Warns Public To Stay Away From Porgera Mine|
by Alexander Rheeney in Port Moresby, The Pacfic Magazine
December 18th, 2007
The Papua New Guinea government has appealed to the public to keep away from the Porgera gold mine after security guards shot dead an alleged illegal miner.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Mining Dr. Puka Temu recently placed public notices in Papua New Guinea’s daily newspapers expressing concern about illegal mining activities and appealed to the public to keep out of the special mining lease area.
An unidentified man was allegedly shot within the mine last month, according to the government-owned radio station Karai Radio.
The death compelled the PNG national government to dispatch policemen to guard the mine’s properties as well as conduct awareness campaigns in nearby villages on the dangers of illegal mining.
The illicit activities is not a new problem for the company with its security personnel often clashing with villagers keen on make a fortune on the fringes of the giant pit.
Policemen who were sent up to Porgera have reportedly warned villagers that they had until the end of this month to stop their illegal activities or risk arrest and prosecution.
Porgera Joint Venture, which operates the mine and is 95 percent owned by global mining house Barrick Gold Corporation, is located in PNG’s Enga province.
Meanwhile, Barrick Gold subsidiary Placer Dome Oceania Ltd. will buy the troubled Kainantu gold mine in the neighbouring Eastern Highlands province from the Highlands Pacific Limited.
While the sale is still subject to PNG government and shareholder approval, it would increase Barrick Gold’s presence in PNG.
Pacific Group Chairman Robert Bryan has reportedly expressed optimism the transaction would result in the company’s gold hedge book being closed and all debts cleared, leaving Highlands Pacific with US$30 million in cash reserves.
Despite the sale, Highlands Pacific will continue to maintain its presence in PNG through its FriedaRiver copper/gold project and the Ramu nickel mine where it has an 8.6 percent interest.
The Ramu mine is operated by the Chinese Metallurgical Construction Company (MCC) which has an 85 percent interest in the project.