STRIKING WORKERS RETURN TO PNG’S PORGERA MINE

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 19) – Operators of the Porgera gold mine say they are hopeful of achieving its gold production target of more than 613,000 ounces this year.

This comes after about 75 per cent of the mine workers returned to normal duties yesterday, marking the second day of the mine’s operation following six days of non-production due to a strike by about 1,000 of its 2,500 workers.

Placer Dome media director Patrick Bindon said the returning workers included surface and underground miners, mill operators, production employees and maintenance staff.

"Most of the mine’s operations have recommenced and the expatriate employees are returning to the (mine) site," Mr Bidon said.

He said the situation had quieted and was peaceful on the site and its surroundings.

The striking workers had been flown back to the site from Monday, following instructions from the mine management to resume work immediately.

Mine general manager Phil Stephenson said the response from workers to return to work had been very good and all sections of the mine should be in full operation later this month.

He said the issues raised by the local workforce relating to the take-over bid by Barrick Gold Corporation was a matter not affecting workers and their conditions. Nothing would change for the workers in terms of their terms and conditions if Barrick Gold was successful in the take-over bid, he said.

However, Mr Stephenson did not elaborate on the demand for PGK50,000 [US$17,000] from the local workforce for each employee if Barrick Gold was to take over the management of the mine from Placer Dome.

Meanwhile, midnight tonight (London time) will mark the end of the bid to buy 75 per cent of PJV and market indications have favoured the bid by Canadian Barrick Gold Corporation.

PJV produced 850,000 ounces of gold just over its 840,000 target and this placed PJV as the leading mine in the region.

January 19, 2006

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

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