Papua New Guinea Post-CourierPublished by MAC on 2006-04-13
Papua New Guinea Post-Courier http://www.postcourier.com.pg/
13 April 2006
New mine work halted
OPERATIONS at the recently commissioned Kainantu gold mine were suspended yesterday due to security concerns posed by landowners who claimed the land in the mine area. The decision by operator Highlands Kainantu Limited to suspend operations became effective at 11am yesterday after the Barola Kafe clan and other groups claimed to be landowners of the mine site. Highlands Pacific Limited said the security threat was a result of the claimants' frustration with the Land Titles Commission (LTC) which was charged with the determination of land ownership at the Kainantu mine site. The LTC began hearing claims to land ownership in May 2004 but went into recession in May last year due to lack of funding from the National Government. It started hearing again in November last year but again went into recession a month later - again due to lack funding. Highlands Pacific Limited said yesterday that the threat posed by the claimant groups was being investigated by police and government officials who were in discussion with the parties in an effort to resolve the dispute. The company said it was co-operating fully with this initiative. Chairman Bob Bryan said the safety of the company's employees, contractors and the communities in the vicinity of the mine site was the paramount consideration of the investor in taking the action to suspend operations. He said the mine would not be re-opened until Highlands Pacific was confident that there was no ongoing security risk to its employees or the company's properties. Mr Bryan said he also noted that the claimant groups with the LTC process was understandable and said that the company shared the wish to see the Land Titles Commission process completed as soon as possible. The company, however, said that threats to employees and property were totally counterproductive as well as being unlawful.