PORGERA GOLD MINE IN PNG STYMIED BY VANDALS

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 31) - Operations at the Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea have been shut down again, only days after the mine had resumed operations following a forced shutdown earlier by disgruntled employees.

Porgera Joint Venture officials said in a statement yesterday that vandals cut down a power pylon along the Hides power transmission line at about 8 p.m. on Wednesday, effectively shutting down operations at the mine.

Mining industry experts said a mine such as Porgera would lose about K1 million [US$340,000] a day every time there was disruption to its operations. Acting mine general manager Frazer Bourchier confirmed the incident from Porgera yesterday.

"These criminal activity does not only affect the Porgera mine but also the Paiam Hospital, government offices, schools, health facilities, businesses and the homes of ordinary people," Frazer said. "These people are reckless and have no regard for us or our property and we must all work together to try and bring them to justice and discourage this type of behavior for the future," he said.

The Hides power transmission line supplies power from the Hides gas fields in the Southern Highlands and to the Porgera mine and other areas, including the Porgera Station, Paiam Town and the surrounding villages.

Bourchier said this was the fifth time in less than a year that the transmission line, which is owned and operated by the Porgera Joint Venture, had been vandalized. Similar incidents had occurred in March, April, July and November last year.

A helicopter inspection revealed that a pylon had been felled and although the damaged pylon had been brought back to site two days later, the new post could not be installed due to continuous bad weather.

Work on the repairs is due to be completed today.

February 1, 2006

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

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