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Mining operations and workers hanging after PNG earthquake

01 March 2018

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

By Lisa Lahari-Williams -

Tens of thousands of workers employed across Papua New Guinea's lucrative mining sector are unsure when they will return to work.

Major mining companies with operations in the Southern Highlands and Hela regions are still working out the level of damages to their sites affected by the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that struck on Monday.

An image taken during an aerial surveillance fly-over. Photo/ PNG MAF.

The economic jewel in Papua New Guinea's crown is its Liquified Natural Gas project led by Exxon Mobil. Shut down after the quake, it's remaining that way for safety reasons cited by the company.

Mining company Barrick  has suspended its Porgera operations, while Ok Tedi mine in the Western Province had to airlift shift workers out after a landslip blocked access to the site and damaged water and concentrate pipelines.

Oil Search Limited announced today staff and operations across its 20 sites were safe but it would demobilise non-essential staff to Port Moresby while the situation settles. 

Prime Minister Peter O'Neill flew over the area yesterday and told local media it was a "sad day for Papua New Guinea".

He was also in talks with Cabinet to look at priorities for restoring power, communications and access, especially to hospitals and schools.