MAC/20: Mines and Communities

More Gold as Probe Looms

Published by MAC on 2005-04-08

More Gold as Probe Looms

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier

April 8, 2005

Porgera Joint Venture has placed multi-million-kina orders for new equipment for its underground mining operations, indicating an extension of mine life for at least 10 years.

This means an additional six years from planned closure in 2009 due to discovery of more than seven million tonnes of new ore at 7.5 grams of proven and probable reserves.

The drilling program will double to more than 70,000 meters this year. PJV mining manager Frazer Bourchier said that last year alone about 800,000 additional ounces of gold were proved resulting in an estimated 1.8 million ounces of gold.

PJV has re-engaged former hard rock miners from early days of the Porgera mine as drivers of the new (coming) trucks, jumbo drills, loaders and other ancillary equipment for underground mining likely to continue through to 2013 and beyond.

The new developments comes as PJV Special Mining Lease (SML) Landowners Association backed by Opposition Leader Peter O'Neill seek Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare's intervention for a Commission of Inquiry into alleged "continuous killings" of 20 people from the area.

Mr. O'Neill wants the Government to intervene immediately "to put an end to the killings, establish the circumstances of those who died and refer their murders to justice" backing a Marh 21 letter by the landowners' association president Mr. Mark Ekepa alleging that PJV security guards were involved. PJV would also welcome any legitimate enquiry into the problems at the mine site, stockpile and waste dumps and the disruption to operations.

"The issue is one of safety. Illegal miners were not trained, dressed or equipped to operate safely in the environment of the mine, where there were loose rocks, heavy equipment and blasting taking place", a PJV spokesperson said.

"Any legitimate enquiry would reveal that PJV used the utmost restraint in dealing with a difficult crowd control problem, and that its own security, safety, community affairs and rescue personnel were placed at grave risk every day by the intrusions.

"An inquiry would help to explain to the public and to the relevant authorities that gold thieves were creating a dangerous safety situation, which PJV was obliged to deal with."

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