State of Emergency for PNG's Porgera gold mine


Radio Australia –

30 April 2014

A State of Emergency will come into effect this Friday, in an area around the Porgera Gold Mine in Papua New Guinea’s Enga Province, in an attempt to try and stop illegal mining.
State of Emergency for PNG’s Porgera gold mine (Credit: ABC)

Five people were killed on the minesite late last year, while attempting to forage specks of gold – and in the months since, there have been a number of confrontations between illegal miners and local police.

The number of people entering the mine illegally has grown and extra police, soldiers and other support personnel have arrived in the area to try and bring the situation under control.

The mine’s operator Barrick Gold says it has been made aware of the PNG government’s decision, and that the situation involving illegal miners in the Porgera Mine open-pit area puts the health and safety of its personnel, contractors and members of nearby communities at serious risk.

Presenter: Campbell Cooney

Speaker: Dr Samson Amean, Enga Province Administrator


Porgera in strife

PNG Post Courier –

29 April 2014

PORGERA, PNG —— The Papua New Guinea Government has declared a state of emergency in Porgera, Enga Province.

Over a hundred policemen and soldiers from Port Moresby and Mt Hagen are already on the ground in the mining township, Highlands Divisional Commander Teddy Tei said Monday.

The rapid increase in uncontrollable illegal mining activities within the mine lease area and other law and order issues in the valley has prompted the state of emergency.

A similar response, codenamed Operation Ipili, was executed in April 2009 for the same reasons that saw more than 300 houses within the mining lease area being razed to the ground by members of the security forces. Those houses were allegedly used by illegal miners.

Deputy Commissioner of Police Operations Simon Kauba will launch the three month operation today in a grand ceremony at the Ipili sports complex in Paiam.

The reckless behaviour of illegal miners who have descended into the valley and are extracting gold from the mine site has continuously disrupted production and risked shutting down the Barrick-operated world class open cut gold mine.

Killings on the streets of Porgera town have become common, resulting in tribal fights and the closure of the Highlands Highway leading into the valley.

Business houses and government departments also had to shut down as a result.

It is not clear whether security personnel will remove settlements around the mine proper as in 2009 but police have moved in with more determination than before to solve the problems. Security commanders briefed community leaders, government and business representatives on Friday.

They said their focus was to stop the illegal mining activities in the mining area, which were getting out of hand, as well as addressing other law and order issues in the valley.

The security contingent will live outside of the mining premises and conduct operations.

But as during the 2009 operation, sources on the ground say all illegal miners have already fled Porgera and will wait out the three-month period and return after the operation has finished.

In 2009, all illegal miners fled to their home provinces across the highlands region while the operation took place.

But as things cooled down the miners gradually returned and the number has increased since.


Call for action at hellish PNG mine

Radio New Zealand –

1 May 2014

A mining watchdog says Papua New Guinea’s Porgera gold mine is a hellish and gruesome place and locals are still waiting to be resettled by the Canadian miner.

The mining town in Enga province is currently under a state of emergency with extra police and military personel on the ground in part to stop illegal mining.

MiningWatch Canada spokesperson, Catherine Coumans, says it has a range of concerns about the Barrick Gold-owned mine including environmental, health, and human rights violations.

“People have lost their traditional way of living and maintaining themselves and what has happened to replace that is women will go into the waste dumps and pan for gold literally in the waste of the mine and young men will go into the pit.”

Ms Coumans says she attended Barrick’s Annual General Meeting yesterday but no mention was made of the situation at Porgera mine.