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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Sept. 4) - Striking Lihir gold mine workers yesterday raised more than PGK5,000 [US$1,789] to buy pigs to compensate traditional landowners of the island’s airport.

The money is payment to landowners for desecration of Londolovit airport which two planes used since the strike began, despite villagers placing "gorgor" leaves on the airport to traditionally show its closure.

The disgruntled workers, who have been on strike since last Thursday midnight, said they had to compensate the landowners in preparation for the mine’s return to normalcy.

"We are now contributing to buy pigs to remove the gorgor. We’ve already raised about PGK5,000 and we’ll buy three pigs. The landowners have the names of the pilots (of the helicopter and Air Niugini aircraft) and they will be dealt with," a worker said on the condition of anonymity.

The Lihir Gold Ltd (LGL) employees denied assertions by Mining Minister Dr. Puka Temu in a press conference yesterday that only 40 of them were on strike.

"The entire 3500 (workers) are behind us, we just signed a petition and it’s with (New Ireland governor) Sir Julius Chan," one of the workers said.

While both Temu and some landowners publicly denied the landowners were part of the strike, workers at the mine said landowners were behind them and closed the airport at the weekend to protest the burning of one of their children.

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