By STAFF REPORTERS
POLICE are requesting the Government to quickly resolve issues with the Porgera mine and landowners, as an escalating breakdown in law and order will lead to more criminal activities at the mine site.
People’s National Congress Party leader and former prime minister Peter O’Neill has also raised concern over the closure of the mine, after the Government refused to renew the special mining lease in April.
Mine operator Barrick Niugini Limited has been granted leave to challenge the Government’s decision in court.
Porgera police station commander Senior Sergeant Jack Kimala said people were breaking into the mine site and stealing whatever they wished to steal.
He told The National yesterday that he doubted that the situation would remain peaceful for long.
“We are managing but the issue with the mine has to be settled quickly before everything goes beyond our control,” he said.
“People used to collect leftovers of what is mined during the operations. But now that it is closed, they are breaking into the company’s premises and getting office equipment and other items.”
The Government recently sent 100 soldiers and resources to Porgera to help police.
O’Neill said the lives of workers, contractors and landowners in Porgera had been “ruined by the government’s attempt to nationalise a mine”.
“The people of Porgera, Enga and the nation are losing around K100 million each month because of (Prime Minister James) Marape’s miscalculated decision,” O’Neill said.
“While more than 2,600 PNG staff are losing their jobs, Marape, perhaps gripped by guilt over what he has done to them, went on Facebook and said the government has them covered if Barrick does not pay.
“As a global company listed on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges, there is no doubt that Barrick will adhere to the law and meet retrenchment payouts.”
No comment could be obtained from the Government yesterday but it said last month it wanted to advance the Wafi-Golpu (in Morobe) and Porgera projects, as well as other major resource developments before the third quarter of this year.
Marape assured provincial governments and landowners in the resource areas that the Government “will give you a fairer share within what the State secures from negotiations with developers”.
O’Neil said there was no plan by Marape “to replace the wages of workers, no plan to replace contracts for small businesses, and no plan to provide money for schools and healthcare that was funded by the Porgera mine for the people”.
“Marape thought he was being smart by announcing he would not renew the Porgera lease, but because of his lack of foresight, he has now ruined the lives of thousands of people who have now lost their jobs and lost small businesses.”
By STAFF REPORTERS