Illegal mining continues at Porgera

HUNDREDS of illegal miners are continuing to descend on Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea, disrupting production and risking shutdown of operations.
Illegal mining continues at Porgera Illegal mining continues at Porgera Illegal mining continues at Porgera Illegal mining continues at Porgera Illegal mining continues at Porgera

Mineral Resources Authority of PNG acting managing director Philip Samar said concerns had been raised by the Porgera joint venture over a huge increase in the number of illegal miners who had accessed both the stockpiles and the open pit.

Samar said the miners had put their own lives and the lives of company employees at risk, which had resulted in unnecessary fatalities to illegal miners, injuries to illegal miners and company employees, as well as a loss of revenue.

"A team of government officials including MRA were onsite early this week to reassess the illegal miner situation on the ground in Porgera," he said.

"We can confirm that the situation has now escalated such that the normal daily mine operations are being significantly hindered and the mine is not able to operate at its full production capacity."

A statement issued by the MRA confirmed Barrick had approached the national government to urgently provide assistance in resolving the law and order issue so the mine could continue its normal operations.

It said the company was concerned at the rate and the manner at which illegal miners were operating and the mine could face serious problems - including shutting down operations.

A briefing from Barrick provided to the MRA indicated the JV had recorded an average of 396 illegal miners trespassing on the special mining lease per day.

It stated the company was involved in an average of 14 confrontations per day with illegal miners.

A total of 170 injuries have been reported that were directly attributed to the activities of illegal miners at PJV, while a significant but unquantifiable amount of damage has been caused to plant and equipment.

Barrick said in excess of 300 hours of production time was lost due to the actions of illegal miners and a significant but unquantifiable amount of gold bearing material was stolen from the special mining lease.

Samar said the government was equally concerned about the situation at Porgera and thanked the police commissioner for allocating an additional mobile unit to Porgera.

The MRA is to consult with state agencies and consult affected stakeholders, with a submission of recommendations to be submitted to PNG's National Executive Council through Mining Minister Byron Chan in an attempt to resolve the issue.

Chan said he was greatly concerned with the activities of the illegal miners as they posed a significant risk to both the mining operations and to themselves as individuals.

He appealed to illegal miners to cease their illegal activities and said he would discuss recommendations from the state team with Prime Minister Peter O'Neill prior to tabling it in Parliament.

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