PAPUA NEW GUINEA'S PORGERA GOLD MINE FACES NEW THREAT

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PORGERA, Papua New Guinea (November 27, 1998 - Post-Courier)---Porgera landowners threatened yesterday to shut down the Porgera mine unless the Government supports a proposed Private Member's Bill to ban fly-in/fly-out operations on resource projects.

They also want the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) to construct 120 houses a year for the next five years, as opposed to a PJV proposal to construct 120 houses within four years.

The landowners are demanding that PJV phase out all fly-in-fly-out of its employees, and build houses for them to reside in at the mine site. They allege that PJV has breached the Mining Development Contract which requires it to "minimize'' fly-in-fly-out by its seventh year of operation. That deadline expired in May last year.

Under the proposed PJV package, money for the construction of the houses would come from the Porgera Integrated Development Project, funds which the State was to have paid to the PJV partners for the acquisition of the extra 15 percent in the project.

In a meeting with Mining Minister Ian Ling-Stuckey and local MP Opis Papo, the landowners said the K 40 million in the IDP was theirs; the question now was the number of houses PJV should build.

Officials from the Mineral Resources Department said that although the agreement required PJV to minimize FIFO by year seven, it did not define this in figures, nor did it specify the number of houses PJV should build.

The PJV package proposes a four stage development over three years starting January 1.

One of the pre-requisites is that all 30 houses (15 constructed by PJV and 15 by the landowners and rented to PJV) be occupied before moving to the next housing stage. "This would not impact on the infrastructure program, which would move to the next stage regardless of lack of housing occupants should that be the case,'' Mineral Resources Secretary Robin Moaina said.

In addition to the housing and infrastructure matters, PJV agreed to offer staff incentives including raising salaries in a range of between 10-15 percent to encourage employees to live in Porgera.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

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