15 Oct 2003

Porgera mine officials in Papua New Guinea say they will not be driven out of Enga

6:24 pm on 15 October 2003

Officials at the Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea's Enga province say they will not be driven out by criminal activity in the area.

However the operators of the mine, Porgera Joint Venture, have launched a public campaign in a bid to curb illegal gold mining at the site.

PJV's community affairs manager, Kai Lavu, says claims made at the recent law and order summit in Enga that crime threatened the future of the mine are widely exaggerated.

He says most of the offending is petty crime and there are no plans to close the open-pit mine until 2006.

"We've come this far in the last 11 years and we want to close the mine when all the reserves run out according to the mine plan. It's for the good of everyone, the mining company, for the local people who are employed, the nationals who are employed here and for the government. We're not going to run away, we've got a programme, we've got a plan and we'll see it to the end."

Mr Lavu says that while some of the company's fuel tankers have been looted in the past, illegal mining is down.

He says that while passengers on local buses have also been robbed, most of the offending in the area is not targeted at the company.