Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lihir mine shuts down


Settle all outstanding issues, say landowners

LANDOWNERS in New Ireland province have shut down the giant Lihir gold mine over outstanding issues with Newcrest Mining Ltd, The National reports.
Lihir Mining Area Landowners Association (LMALA) chairman Peter Suar said from Lihir last night that they had shut down all mine operations at 12.45pm on Sunday by placing the traditional gorgor plant around the mine site.Operations at the Putput plant site, mine pit and the stockpile area at Kapit remained suspended.It is understood that Newcrest officials from PNG and Australia were on their way to the island for talks with representatives from LMALA, Nimamar local level government, Lihir Agreements Review Independent Committee and state representatives (including the Minerals Resources Authority).
Landowner representatives had warned that if the current concerns of landowners were not addressed positively, the immediate future of the intergrated benefits package negotiations would be under threat.
Suar confirmed that operations at the mine remained closed.
“We are doing it professionally and peacefully, with no harm to the public or property.
“We have been patient for a long time. Our birthright is gone.”
Newcrest country manager Peter Aitsi said from Lihir last night that the company would be meeting with landowners today.
“We are hoping to deal with the issue tomorrow (today),” he said.
A notice of intention to place “gorgor” was issued to Newcrest at 11am last Friday demanding that:
  • The LMALA integrated benefits package (IBP) budget of K2.5 million be paid within 48 hours;
  • The LMALA interim administration budget of K24 million is agreed to until the IBP review was completed;
  • Specific outstanding issues to be addressed; and
  • Newcrest chief executive Greg Robinson must meet Lihir leaders on the island.                        
    Suar said the gorgor was placed due to the “continuous arrogant attitude” of the developer in not addressing LMALA IBP budget, LMALA administration budget and specific issue agreements of the affected areas within the special mining lease.The 48-hour notice lapsed last Sunday with landowners shutting down operations to the plant site, mine pit and stockpile area.
Suar said Newcrest offered landowners a K2.5 million cheque on Sunday but they refused it.
“Stage two of the action would be to shut down the Londolovit weir where water is sourced to supply the gold processing plant, and stage three is to shut down the Kunaye airport and geothermal.”
Suar said the gorgor would remain until they met Newcrest general manager PNG and Indonesia, Brett Fletcher, PNG country manager Aitsi, operations manager Andy Holdings, lawyer Rob Maloney, IPB review chairman Sir Brown Bai and national and provincial government officials.
“We will meet with Newcrest tomorrow (today) at 1pm,” Suar said last night.
“The company wanted to meet with LMALA officials today but the leaders wanted a formal meeting tomorrow.

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