14 Feb 2008

Locals feeling the pinch over stalled mining project near PNG's Kokoda Track, says company

4:40 pm on 14 February 2008

The Australian company pushing to establish a mine near Papua new Guinea's Kokoda Track says it's been waiting since mid-last year for a renewal of its exploration licence.

However Frontier Resources Ltd's managing director Peter McNeil feels PNG's government is under immense pressure from Australia not to facilitate the project.

Canberra is opposed to the mining due to fears it will infringe on the historic track where Australian troops fought Japanese in World War II.

But Mr McNeil insists that their exploration for an estimated 1.5 billion US dollars worth of gold and copper only comes within 400 metres of one part of the Track.

Local Kodu landowners want the mine to go ahead and Mr McNeil says Australia has no place to deny them their right to develop their own resources.

"At the moment the local guys are getting absolutely no income because it's not trekking season and we haven't worked there since the end of November so economically they feel the pinch because we are the largest contributor to the local economy, there's no doubt about that and unfortunately they're feeling the pinch now."