MINING Minister John Pundari has expressed concern over the raising numbers of illegal miners in the open pit mines of Porgera.
On an official visit to the mining town last week, Pundari was shown first hand the number of illegal miners along the open pit mines and the outnumbered guards who could not do anything.
Pundari said the illegal miners had also been tunnelling into the mine and camping there.
“This is illegal as they are trespassing on PJV premises.
“And if more and more people invade the open pit and underground mine area, it poses a real threat to the continuous operation of the mine”, he said.
Pundari assured land owners and Porgera mine developer, Barrick, that he would provide the political leadership necessary to effectively address this issue and also the re-settlement issue.
He emphasised the need for Barrick and the state to fast track the re-settlement exercise for the clans identified by Barrick to be living within emergency areas of the special mine licence (SML).
While acknowledging Barrick’s contribution to social and economic development to Porgera, Enga and the country, he stressed that this exercise was important because
illegal miners were pretending to be SML landowners and getting involved in these illegal activities.
The minister’s visit was to gauge views from Barrick, landowners of the SML area and local leaders of the Porgera Valley on issues affecting them.
Some of the other issues discussed included law and order problems, lack of leadership in Porgera and review of the Porgera MoA.
Pundari suggested to Barrick to work with the provincial government to support its initiative of training local people to be police personnel for Porgera only in order to address the issue of illegal mining and law and order.
After the meet, the minister presented cheques to Porgera Development Authority worth K1,130,000, Porgera District Women’s Association worth K76,000 and Porgera Council of Churches with K60,000, which were all sourced from the Porgera project public investment programme (PIP).