SHARON E. BARNABAS
LIHIR Gold Ltd (LGL) has refuted media reports that operations at its flagship mine in New Ireland province have remained shut since the previous Monday.
The disruption, according to LGL’s spokesperson who wished anonymity, was only temporary and confined to mining activities in one part of the pit.
“The mine was not shut,” the spokesperson said as reported in the Post-Courier yesterday and that operations were normal and with prospects of reaching production targets for the year.
The spokesperson confirmed that there was a dispute among local landowner groups on Lihir Island, especially in the vicinity of the mine.
“But the dispute has reached a conclusion and the gorger has been lifted.
“Work (at a confined part of the pit) has resumed and the operation is in full production.”
LGL recorded a loss in the first-half of this year although its underlying profit rose by massive 130% from the same period last year.
The loss in profit of US$300.9 million (K822.1 million) was incurred when it paid US$409 million (K1.117 billion) after tax towards write down of Ballarat mine’s operations in Queensland, Australia.
The first-half to June 30, LGL group posted US$154.9 million (K423.2 million) in underlying profit.
LGL aimed for solid production in the second-half of this year with full output targeted between one million ounces to 1.2 million ounces.
The spokesperson said: “While the dispute did temporarily impact work at the mine, the impact was not material and would not affect our production target for the year.”
Media reports said that Kapit landowners had shut down the mine since the previous Monday due to disagreements with the LGL.
The report said Penias Tadak, a Kapit leader, declared “that his people will not accept anything less than their demands”.
It was reported that the landowners placed gorgors, a traditional plant, signifying protest or disagreement.
The spokesperson said the mine was not shut and the nature of the dispute was known to the two groups involved.
However, claims that Kapit beach was the only nesting area for the endangered leatherback turtles on the Island have been challenged by the company.
“Independent studies on nesting turtle species on Lihir Island have shown that the island only sporadically attracts nesting turtles as the majority of beaches at Lihir are too narrow … and if nesting were to occur at Kapit beach, eggs would be unlikely to hatch due to high geothermal temperature,” the spokesperson said.