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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, August 7) – Highlands Pacific Ltd’s operations including the Kainantu gold mine are unaffected by the recently declared state of emergency in Papua New Guinea’s Southern Highlands.

"Kainantu and the company’s other projects continue to operate normally," Highlands managing director, Ian Holzberger, said last Friday.

He was responding to a significant number of shareholder enquiries and the broadly-held perception that the declared state of emergency in the Southern Highlands has impacted the company’s operations.

Meanwhile, Petroleum and Energy Minister Sir Moi Avei said the call by Western Australia premier Alan Carpenter to abandon the gas project because of the "risks" arising from the state of emergency deserves to be totally rejected.

"The state of emergency will strengthen the PNG gas project because it will restore law and order, end the widespread abuse of public money and ensure delivery of services.

"I’m aware that Mr Carpenter never visited PNG and had no been briefed on the gas project," he said.

Mr Carpenter said the current trouble in SHP proved that he is on the right track in promoting a transcontinental gas pipeline.

Prime Minister Sir Michael declared a state of emergency in the SHP and deployed 700 officers there because of alleged corruption.

Sir Moi said Oil Search Ltd, the largest shareholder in the project expressed total confidence that the company’s operations won’t be impacted by the emergency.

"The state of emergency has bipartisan political support, with strong backing of the leader of the Opposition and every Southern Highlands MP apart from the governor," said Sir Moi.

[PIR editor’s note: According to an article in last week’s PIR edition, PNG’s national government has suspended the Southern Highlands government for the time being as order is restored in the province.]

August 8, 2006

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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