Sunday, April 01, 2012

Troops sent to PNG regions

By Eoin Blackwell
AAP Papua New Guinea Correspondent
Prime Minister Peter O'Neill has formally announced a troop call-out to the resource rich Hela region of Papua New Guinea amid ongoing disruptions to mining activity.
Troops will be sent to both Enga and Southern Highlands provinces on Monday to bolster a police presence amid ongoing law and order issues.
On Thursday, hundreds of illegal miners reportedly converged on the Polgera gold mine in Enga, threatening and injuring staff and destroying equipment.
Road blocks in the Southern Highland town of Tari have disrupted parts of the massive Exxon-Mobil lead PNG Liquefied Natural Gas project.
The road blocks were set up in the weeks after up to 29 settlers were killed in a landslide at the Tumbi quarry, which Exxon has said it closed months before the accident.
"As a responsible government, we cannot sit back and allow hooligans in our community to threaten and disrupt normalcy, and place vital economic projects at risk," Mr O'Neill said in a statement.
"We must bring these situations under control quickly and reassure our citizen and investment partners of our ability and commitment to addressing law and order issues decisively."
He said Defence Force head, Brigadier General Francis Agwi and senior defence staff left Port Moresby for the Southern Highlands capital of Mendi on Thursday to make a formal assessment of the situation.
No details were provided on the size of the call-out.
Polgera mine manager Greg Walker called on the government to intervene after a pit in the mine was raided by illegal miners - people who break into the mine site and independently mine its gold ore.
"We are calling on them to act swiftly to restore law and order to Porgera," he said on Thursday.
The raiders reportedly captured three staffers, seriously injuring one, and later freed them.

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