17 May 2004

PNG mining expert dismisses claims of 19 people being shot at Porgera

1:32 pm on 17 May 2004

A mining expert in Papua New Guinea says reports that 19 people have been shot by security guards at Porgera gold mine are grossly exaggerated.

Greg Anderson, the executive director of the chamber of Mines and Petroleum, says there have been two or three deaths over the last several years.

He says these have occurred when large groups of people invade the open pit mine or surrounding land in an attempt to mine for themselves and become aggressive when told to move on by security guards.

"There's a very large population that's moved into the area around the mine. These are people who have moved in from outer areas and they try to go mining within the pit, particularly in the nights or evenings, and on the stockpiles. They've even tried to get into the underground at times so it becomes quite difficult to manage."

Mr Anderson says some of the people, who are trespassing when mining for themselves, are armed and this is when trouble has occurred.

He says there are ongoing discussions with landowners groups in an attempt to control the situation.