By MALUM NALU
Operations at the giant Lihir gold mine in New Ireland province resumed at 8.30pm last night after Lihir Mining Area Landowners Association (LMALA) resolved outstanding issues with Newcrest Mining Ltd.
Lihir mine, one of the biggest in the world and the subject of a $US1.3 billion expansion, was shut down by protesting landowners at 12.45pm last Sunday, who placed traditional “gorgor” leaves around the mine site.
- A notice of intention to place “gorgor” was issued to Newcrest at 11am last Friday demanding: LMALA integrated benefits package (IBP) budget of K2.5 million be paid within the period of 48 hours;
- LMALA interim administration budget of K24 million was agreed to until the IBP review was completed;
- Address of specific outstanding issues; and
- Newcrest CEO Greg Robinson must meet Lihir leaders on the island.
The 48-hour notice lapsed on Sunday with landowners shutting down operations to the Putput plant site, mine pit and Kapit stockpile.
Newcrest country manager, Peter Aitsi, told The National from Lihir at 9pm last night that the dispute was resolved after an all-day meeting.
“Both parties have resolved the dispute,” he said.
“Operations have returned to normal as of 8.30pm.”
LMALA chairman Peter Suar said Newcrest released the K2.5 million to him yesterday, while discussions on the K24 million would continue today (Wednesday).
He said Newcrest had also agreed to release another K30 million plus interest which had accumulated since 2007.
“Newcrest has agreed to release the first installment of K6 million to LAMLA,” Suar said.
“The rest will be paid in monthly installments.”
Rumours of the unrest sent Newcrest stock down 4.9% in early trading on the Australian Securities Exchange yesterday and were most recently trading 3.6 lower at $26.21.
Newcrest produced 31,350 troy ounces of gold from Lihir in the 12 months to June 30, accounting for almost one-fifth of the company's total gold production during the year.