Conflict at Barrick mine in Papua New Guinea – two views

Radio Australia reported May 3 that “a spokesman for the landowners and villagers, Jeffery Simon, told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat program the residents are angry at police for setting fire to around 300 houses.”

Following the escalation of violence in the region, the government deployed 200 security personnel to restore law and order.  Tensions have long simmered between the Indigenous population and the mine, and armed violence has threatened both the mine operators and local residents.

The mine has been the focus of environmental and social concerns for years. The local area has seen a large growth in population along with lawlessness and violence. The company is concerned with the illegal mining, and police and Barrick’s security have made strong efforts to stop trespassing. Efforts to  resettle residents are stalled by the lack of agreement on a comprehensive plan.

Amnesty International: Forced evictions and destruction of property by police in Porgera must end (May 11, 2009)

“Amnesty International calls for immediate action to protect more than 1,000 people who have been left homeless after police officials in Papua New Guinea forcibly evicted them by burning down their homes. On 27 April 2009 police officials burned down 50 houses within the Porgera mining area, owned and operated by Canadian-based Barrick Gold Corporation. More than 200 police had been sent to the area as part of an operation to deal with the law and order situation in Porgera District, Enga Province. The police alleged that people living in these homes were squatters responsible for illegal mining andother criminal activities.  A further 300 houses of villagers living near the mine are also reported to have been burnt down as part of the same operations.”

Barrick responds (excerpts from an email to Upstream Journal, May 14)

“We understand that only approximately 30-35 temporary shanties occupied by illegal miners, not legitimatelandowners, were removed in full accordance with PNG law. Police have confirmed that proper due process was followed, including obtaining court orders and giving priorpublic notice in the community, days prior to the action.  As part of the police call out in Enga province, police say this particular area was targeted because it sits at the very edge of the Porgera joint venture open pit and had become a staging ground for illegal miner incursions, aswell as prostitution and alcoholism.

To continue reading this article, please follow this link to the Upstream Journal. The web publication is 100% free and green !


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