Editor's note: "Illegal miners" is a term that the company uses to criminalize small scale miners in Porgera, Papua New Guinea.
ILLEGAL miners have descended on the Porgera mine district, triggering concerns from project operators and the government.
Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) acting managing director Philip Samar said yesterday the government was committed to addressing the issue of illegal operations at the Porgera mine camp.
He was responding to concerns raised by miner Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) that there had been a surge of illegal miners, who have accessed both the stockpiles and the open pit area, putting many lives at risk.
These activities has resulted in injuries and deaths of illegal miners and company personnel, aside from loss of revenue for the gold project stakeholders.
“A team of government officials including MRA were on site early this week to reassess the illegal mining situation and we can confirm that the situation has now escalated,” Samar said..
“The normal daily mining operations are being significantly hindered and the copany is not able to operate at its full production capacity.”
Barrick had in recent weeks approached the government to provide assistance to resolve this crisis so that the mine could resume its normal operations.
The company was concerned that the mine could face serious problems, including shutting down operations.
A briefing from Barrick disclosed the following:
An average of 396 illegal miners are trespassing on the special mining lease (SML) per day;
An average of 14 confrontations occurred per day between company security men and illegal miners;
About 170 injuries that were directly attributed to the activities of Illegal Miners at PJV were reported;
A significant but unquantifiable amount of damage was caused to PJV plant and equipment;
More than 300 hours of production time was lost;
A significant but unquantifiable amount of gold ore was stolen from the mine camp.
Samar said the government was concerned about the situation at Porgera and thanked the police commissioner for allocating an additional mobile unit to Porgera.
Saying what was needed was a long-term solution, he confirmed that MRA would dialogue with affected stakeholders and put together a submission to the National Executive Council (NEC) through Mining Minister Byron Chan to resolve this issue.
Chan expressed concern over the illegal mining operations, saying they pose a big risk to both the company’s activities and those of the mine camp intruders.
He appealed to illegal miners to stop their activities.
Chan said he would be receiving a set of recommendations from the state team and would discuss with Prime Minister Peter O’Neill prior to tabling it in Parliament.