By ANDREW ALPHONSE in TARI
OPERATIONS of the giant Porgera gold mine in Enga province have now been affected for nearly two weeks, after locals felled eight power pylons, cutting electricity supply to Porgera from the Hides gas power plant.
Porgera Joint Venture (PJV) partner Barrick (PNG) Ltd, operator of the gold mine, raised concern yesterday that power supply to the mine has been seriously affected after the pylons were felled in Tari last week.
A PJV source in Tari yesterday confirmed that three more pylons were felled over the weekend, bringing to eight the total number of pylons felled.
The source said locals had vented their frustration at being left out of the PNG LNG project benefits at the conclusion of the licence-based benefits sharing agreement (LBBSA) forums for the Hides gas project last week.
The PJV source said one suspect was arrested last week for vandalising the pylons and he was behind bars at the Tari police station cells.
The source said PJV used a huge Heli-Niugini helicopter to carry out repairs on the pylons in the last two weeks but had not been successful due to bad weather and other technical difficulties associated with re-erecting the pylons.
A Tari police source yesterday confirmed that eight pylons had been felled.
Police said the people used steel saw blades to cut down the pylons.
A Government source said the felling of the pylons was now a matter of national security.
The source said the Government was seriously looking at arresting renegade landowner leaders and failed politicians from the Hela region who were allegedly supporting the people to fell the pylons.
Police in Tari said they were treating the felling of pylons as a criminal matter and would pursue the offenders with the assistance of the PJV.
The pylons were felled at Hayapuga and Mt Vi in Tagali LLG area in Tari district.