Difficulties In PNG Mining
PNG Industry News via Topstocks.com
THE Papua New Guinean government has declared a three-month state of emergency in Porgera due to heightened levels of
illegal [unauthorised] mining, crime and inter-tribal fighting
According to the Post-Courier, more than 100 police and troops from Port Moresby and Mt Hagen have been deployed to the area in Enga Province, which hosts Barrick Gold’s massive Porgera mine.
It comes after up to three people were killed in December in a clash between police and around 300
illegal [unauthorised] miners.
Killings on the streets of Porgera have reportedly increased and had resulted in the closure of business and government departments.
Global risk consultancy Control Risks has advised against all non-essential travel.
“We advise that only essential travel to and through Porgera can proceed and only with thorough, high-level security protocols and after seeking itinerary-specific expert advice,” it said.
Control Risks expects heightened vehicle checks, tighter-than-usual access restrictions to the mine, an overnight curfew and a ban on alcohol consumption.
“Despite the measures, there is a high risk of violence, particularly around the minesite –
illegal[unauthorised] miners are prone to assaulting mine workers who confront them and could respond violently to security operations to clear them from the area,” Control Risks said.
Control Risks said while the state of emergency might have a positive impact on law and order in the short term, it was unlikely to resolve the ongoing tensions and security issues in the region.
A state of emergency was previously declared in 2009 with security reportedly removing settlements around the mine, while troops were once again sent to the site in 2012 after attacks by illegal miners.
In February, the Porgera Landowners Association blamed the PNG government for the influx of as many as 396
illegal [unauthorised] miners a day at the site.
“The increase in illegal activities at the Porgera minesite is a by-product of ignorance over many years and a refusal to address the problem proactively,” PLOA chairman Tony Mark Ekepa said.
“The state should not overreact to [an] increase in
illegal[unauthorised] mining activity by deploying mobile police to control the situation.
“It is a problem that needs to be eliminated at the root.”
Despite the Control Risks warning, the Australian government is yet to update its travel advice for the area.
Australia-listed Indochine Mining owns the Mt Kare project near Porgera but could not be reached for comment this morning.
Porgera is PNG’s biggest gold mine, producing around 500,000 ounces of gold last year.
According to Barrick, the mine accounts for around 11% of PNG’s annual gross domestic product and employs about 3000 people.