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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (February 11, 2001 - The Independent/PINA Nius Online)---A national leader has told people of his province: Papua New Guinea must not open its doors too wide for big foreign exploration companies to develop the rich mineral resources at the current fast rate.

Acting Enga Governor General Bernard Narokobi told a gathering at Wapenamanda that irreparable damage to the environment was a very big problem in developed countries of the world.

Mr. Narokobi, who is also the Speaker of the National Parliament, said Papua New Guinea is the richest country in the South Pacific. But at the rate of exploitation, it will finish off being the poorest very soon, he warned.

"Minerals are non-renewable resources and once gone, they cannot be replenished," he said.

Mr. Narokobi said minerals are being extracted in too many parts of the country, including Porgera, Hides, Kutubu, Moran, Gobi, Ok Tedi, Misaim, Lair, Ram and Telikom.

He noted that the life span of some of these mines might come to an end soon.

Mr. Narokobi was in the Enga province to perform the honors at the ground breaking ceremony marking the start of construction on the next stage of the Ipatas center office complex.

He expressed concern that the resources of this country were being exploited at an alarming rate.

"PNG should not continue to leave its doors wide open to foreign companies to exploit our rich resources," he said.

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

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