MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Mine closed as leaders hold talks with landowners

Published by MAC on 2007-04-26


Mine closed as leaders hold talks with landowners

by The National (Papua New Guinea)

26th April 2007

THE closure of the Porgera Gold Mine went into its second day yesterday and operations at the mine were disrupted as the management was in dialogue with disgruntled landowners.

Barrick (Niugini) Limited yesterday evening confirmed the two entrances of access to the mine site were still blocked off.

The gates were closed as early as 4am on Tuesday and many staff members were kept within their residential areas as they could not make it to their workstations on the site.

Some members of the Porgera Landowners Association (PLA) took the action to draw the attention of the management to some of issues of concern it alleged the management ignored.

Among the issues they were pursuing regarded relocation that they allegedly were not included in the current landowners' agreement where the landowners were supposed to be relocated to another area.

PLA chairman Mark Ekepa claimed the food gardens had been destroyed by the operation of the mine and they feared their children would not have land left.

Mr Ekepa said the SML areas were owned by about seven clans with more than 12,000 people and alleged that the current manager of the mine (company named) made some side deals with some of the landowners to sign the agreement.

"We are not happy because that does not represent everyone's views. What we requested for is not included in the agreement. We will not move away until someone from the Prime Minister's Office, Mining Department and Barrick (Niugini) Ltd to come and meet with us so we can renegotiate the mining agreement signed in 1989," he said.

"We want the Government to declare Porgera a disaster zone because of the land shortage."

Barrick (Niugini) Ltd confirmed that a group of landowners had blocked the two access gates to the Porgera mine.

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