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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Jan. 10) - The Papua New Guinea National Government has finally made available funds to start investigations into the alleged pollution of the Angabanga River in the Central Province by waste from a nearby gold mine.

Acting Prime Minister Dr. Puka Temu told reporters yesterday that PGK450,000 [US$166,000] had now been made available and a team will be put together to begin the investigations.

He said expressions of interest will be sought from a competent and independent body to investigate the allegation.

Temu said a competent team well versed in laboratory techniques would be appointed to carry out the investigations.

Temu said the report is expected to be completed by June and if there is evidence of pollution, the Government may be forced to review the Tolukuma mine agreement. When asked about compensation to the people allegedly affected by the pollution if confirmed, Temu said that will be discussed and looked at after the findings of the investigation are made.

He also said a tailings dam may be looked at as an option if the report confirmed the allegations.

He said the report was sanctioned by Sir Peter Barter in the last Parliament but due to lack of funding, it was not done. Meanwhile, he said, under the current agreement, there were provisions for the mine to provide drinking water in the form of projects to the nearby villages and this would also be pursued if the river was polluted and the people were not using it for drinking and cooking.

The people living along the river banks complained of complications and dying of fish in the river allegedly due to pollution by the mine.

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