Five trespassers were found dead in the underground workings of the Porgera gold mine on Saturday, March 3 after a routine blast underground.
Managers of the mine, Barrick Niugini Limited, report that following a scheduled blast at 5.25am an injured man alerted mine staff that other trespassers who had been with him in the underground mine complex were missing.
A subsequent search and rescue operation by mine staff led to the discovery of five deceased persons.
“We deeply regret this loss of life – it tragically demonstrates that the mine is not a safe place to be for unauthorised persons,” executive general manager of Barrick Niugini Limited, Greg Walker, said.
“Our thoughts are with the community after this tragic loss. We must work together to prevent this happening again.”
The deceased were transferred to Porgera’s Paiam Hospital, where efforts are being made to identify the five people involved.
It is believed the men were part of a group of eight people who had trespassed into mine workings to find gold.
Barrick understands that the other persons located in the vicinity of the incident have been arrested and charged by local police.
Barrick has commenced an investigation into the incident and the matter was immediately reported to the PNG Mines Inspectorate.