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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, March 28) – Tolukuma gold mine yesterday dismissed claims allegedly contained in a report regarding riverine tailings disposal prepared by Dr Sylvester Kotapu for the Papua New Guinea Central provincial government.

The mine is investigating the allegations and the credentials of Mr. Kotapu.

The mine management said excerpts of a presentation given by Mr. Kotapu that was provided to the media showed a number of falsehoods, factual errors and illogical deductions.

They stated that blood test data provided by Mr. Kotapu to "prove" his claims was not taken from village communities as he claimed and nor did it show evidence of anything other than perfectly normal ranges of chemical traces within human blood.

Emperor Mines Limited, the owner and operator of the Tolukuma mine, had previously expressed surprise and concern about the media reports, and confirmed yesterday that they had spoken with Governor Alphonse Moroi about this issue, and had informed him of the results of their own investigations.

"This appears to be a con on the Mekeo and Goilala people of Central province, on the workers at the mine and on the people of Papua New Guinea," Emperor’s general manager of Papua New Guinea operations Brad Sampson said.

He said Mr. Kotapu seemed to be deliberately creating a scandal, either for his own benefit, or on behalf of someone else.

"I also remain concerned about Mr. Kotapu’s own credentials. He has claimed to be a senior pathology registrar working at two Australian hospitals.

"But both hospitals have refuted his claims."

Mr. Kotapu also claimed that he was registered with the Papua New Guinea Medical Board, however, on further investigation, the chairman of the Board, Prof Mathias Sapuri, had confirmed that Mr. Kotapu was not registered with the Board, Mr. Sampson said.

"We continue to work with the National Government, Australian and Papua New Guinea based NGOs and our community on the real riverine issues.

"I have invited the Mr. Moroi to participate in this process. We welcome all scientific contributions towards furthering our knowledge and understanding of riverine and related community issues," he said.

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