CHINESE, PNG WORKERS FIGHT AT NICKEL MINE

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Chinese manager blames local workers for violence

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, May 11, 2009) – A fight between Chinese and Papua New Guinean workers at the Ramu nickel project in Madang has left three Chinese seriously injured and properties extensively damaged.

The fight occurred last Friday at the Basamuk refinery site, and work there has halted.

Five Chinese were initially injured during the fight and were admitted to the Madang’s Modilon General Hospital.

However, three were found to be in critical condition and were evacuated to a hospital in Port Moresby.

Extensive damage was also done to properties, including accommodation blocks and plant equipment.

At least 30 vehicles were destroyed or damaged.

Three nationals were also injured and treated at Modilon.

In a statement released yesterday, deputy general manager corporate office of Ramu NiCo Management MCC Limited Wu Xuefeng blamed the attack on a small group of national employees.

Mr. Wu said around midday on Friday, a small group of national employees attacked and assaulted members of the Chinese staff injuring 30 of them, with five of them hospitalised at the Madang hospital.

"There was a lot of damage caused with more than 30 vehicles destroyed while workers’ accommodation blocks and plant equipment were extensively damaged."

Wu said the attack stemmed from rumours regarding an earlier industrial accident in which a national worker was injured and admitted to the Modilon Hospital.

Management had informed workers that the worker had been treated for his injuries and was now in stable condition.

Wu said with the situation at Basamuk tense and all construction work halted, Government authorities had also been briefed on the attack.

"We call on the PNG Government and police to fully investigate the incident and bring the perpetrators to justice, and to promptly restore law and order on site.

"We understand that the MRA, the Madang provincial government and local community members share the same view.

"The company, at the same time, reserves the right to take further legal action.

"While investigating and assessing the scale of damages and delay caused to the project, we urge the Government to finalise several remaining issues with the local community, including the MoA review process and the outstanding land title disputes in the project area.

"We also request the Government to fulfil its commitments with the local stakeholders," the Ramu NiCo management said in its statement.

The National: www.thenational.com.pg/

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