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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 28) – Porgera mine manager Mark Fisher on Tuesday denied engaging armed police officers to remove villagers who were demanding compensation before the company could repair a pothole along the Highlands Highway in the Enga province.

"The road by Porgera Joint Venture over the weekend was done with full backing from the Miso landowners. The pothole was hazardous for vehicles travelling along the road," he said.

"The police personnel were present to ensure the safety of the machinery used for the road works."

Mr Fisher also denied using the same armed officers to force Laiagam settlers living near the mine to recover a semi-trailer that the settlers had confiscated over the death of a fellow settler, who was said to have been run over by that vehicle.

"The vehicle held by the settlers does not belong to PJV but belongs to Mapai Ltd, a contractor."

[PIR editor’s note: Numerous alleged killings of villagers at the Porgera gold mine in PNG’s Enga province raised concern in 2004, prompting a the government to announce an investigation. Landowners in the area claimed 19 people had been killed by mine security workers – some of them PNG police – over scavenging for gold near the mine. Little has since been reported on the matter.]

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