Jeffrey Elapa | Post Courier | June 09,2016
UNDERGROUND mine operations at the Porgera gold mine in Enga Province has stopped after detecting a sinkhole near the mine operations, developer Barrick (Niugini) Limited confirmed yesterday.
Executive managing director Greg Walker reported that operations at the mine have been partially impacted by a sinkhole that has blocked a key drainage portal linked to the underground mining complex. As a precaution, management have temporarily halted operations in the underground mine area, and have been working with local communities to ensure the safety of employees and those who reside in the impacted area.
“Our primary and ongoing concern at this time is for the safety of our people and the community in which we live and work,” Mr Walker said.
“While there has been no immediate impact or injury to people in the area, the sinkhole has opened in an area adjacent to residences and community buildings, and we are working with the community to move people away from the immediate area, in case there is further land movement.
“The mine will be providing immediate support to people who are required to temporarily relocate as a result of the subsidence.”
Management reported that it was working to urgently investigate the land movement and identify options to remediate the sinkhole site.
“While we are able to engage in surface mining and processing in these circumstances, for safety reasons work to investigate the movement of ground can only progress slowly at this stage.
“In the coming days we will be working with the community and local authorities to help minimise any impact on local people from this land movement,” Mr Walker said.
He also noted that the company would provide further updates on the situation when any new information was available.
The company said concerns were raised by Lagaip-Porgera MP Nixon Mangape who called on mines inspectors to visit the site because the sinkhole posed threats to human lives. Mr Mangape said the sinkhole last Saturday was directly caused by the underground mine operations and was causing panic and threat to the SML landowners.