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PNG’S PORGERA MINE CAUTIOUSLY RESUMES OPERATIONS Company concerned over ‘repeat event’ with illegal miners

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, April 3, 2012) – In Papua New Guinea (PNG), the Porgera mine developers say mining activities have resumed but they are wary of a repeat of last Thursday’s raid by illegal miners.

The company said yesterday miners were being removed from the open pit area each evening as a safety precaution.

Work at the mine was halted last week after the illegal miners entered the open pit, attacked workers and damaged equipment in the early hours of last Thursday.

One employee was injured after being struck with a bush knife and three others were held and threatened by the trespassers before being released later.

Mine managers at the Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) reported maintaining production by dipping into the mine’s stockpile as mining activities resumed in planned stages.

A spokeswoman for PJV confirmed that the intruders damaged a large earthmoving machine, stole solar panels from the open pit high precision platform, destroyed one four-wheel drive vehicle and damaged four others as well as portable lighting equipment.

Mine general manager Greg Walker said yesterday the company remained concerned about the deterioration of law and order in the Porgera Valley, and the possibility of a repeat event.

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, soldiers have been deployed to Hela in the Southern Highlands to restore order and "curb rising lawlessness." Prime Minister O'Neill announced that "no criminal behavior that threatens the well-being of the country will be tolerated."]

"We are concerned that when you have a sizeable group of people in the community who feel that they can act outside of the law for their own self interest, these kinds of events can occur again," Walker said.

"We have seen a pattern in unlawful behavior impacting our business over some time. This latest event, while very serious, is just another part of that pattern.

"We are encouraged by the recent government announcements condemning the acts of those involved and the government’s commitment to act quickly to address this type of lawless behavior."

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