Barrick (Niugini) Limited (BNL), operator of the Porgera Mine, said Mine management reports that during the night of Sunday 29 September, several large groups of unauthorised intruders, believed to be illegal miners, gained access to the mine’s Open Pit, and that a number of the intruders were injured after falling from extremely steep inclines while climbing through the area.
While separate from the earlier incident the same night in which a Porgera Asset Protection Officer was shot and seriously wounded, all of the incidents underscore the danger to life created by illegal intrusions and the flagrant disregard for private property and law and order.
BNL Executive Managing Director, Tony Esplin, confirmed that two of the intruders suffered fatal head injuries, and several others have sustained serious injuries requiring urgent medical treatment, which the mine is providing.
“There were at least two separate incidents during the evening where large groups of intruders moved through extremely steep parts of the Open Pit that are prone to instability,” Esplin said.
“Initial reports indicate that several intruders have lost their footing in these areas, with tragic consequences.
“These incidents highlight the enormous risks that intruders and unauthorized persons face when they seek illegal entry to the operational areas of the mine,” Esplin said.
“The PJV has repeatedly warned these intruders, many of whom are from areas outside of Porgera such as Kandep, Laigam and Tari, of the hazards of conducting illegal mining in the operational areas of the mine, but sadly our warnings are not heeded.”
Mine management have noted that local reports alleging that the injured were shot or wounded by police or mine security were not true, and that all of the injured had fallen from height.
“The injured persons are currently receiving medical treatment at the mine medical centre, and following further assessment by medical staff, those with more serious injuries may require transfer to hospitals elsewhere.”
Barrick (Niugini) Limited has advised relevant authorities about the incidents, and will be working closely with the police and others as they investigate these events.