HOME > OUR THINKING > Metals & Mining > NEWS

Production curtailed at Porgera gold mine as aftershocks hit Papua New Guinea

The U.S. Geological Survey reported further aftershocks near the Porgera gold mine Feb. 28 after up to 14 people were reportedly killed and mining operations suspended in the wake of a 7.5 magnitude earthquake that shook Papua New Guinea's Highlands region Feb. 26.

Local police and a hospital worker told Reuters that up to 14 people had been killed in landslides and building collapses stemming from the initial quake.

The USGS also reported a magnitude 6.1 quake 11 kilometers southwest of Porgera on Feb. 28.

Provincial Administrator William Bando said more than 30 people were killed in Mendi, about 350 miles northwest of capital Port Moresby, the Papua New Guinea Post-Courier reported.

S&P Global Market Intelligence heard Barrick Gold Corp. President Kelvin Dushnisky say at the BMO Capital Markets Global Metals and Mining Conference in Florida that the miner was assessing the impact to the broader power grid.

Barrick (Niugini) Ltd. Managing Director Richmond Fenn said the Porgera gold mine, which the company co-owns with China's Zijin Mining Group Co. Ltd., was operating on back-up power. Some production at the mine have been suspended to conserve power.

Reuters also reported Feb. 27 infrastructure damage to Ok Tedi Mining Ltd.'s namesake copper mine. Local news portal Loop said a landslip had blocked off an access road to the Ok Tedi mine, although that was expected to be cleared Feb. 28.

"It will take us another day or so for buses to move across," Loop reported Ok Tedi Managing Director and CEO Peter Graham as saying.

"It may take us up to several days to a week to cut the pipelines and we'll get specialist welders to reinforce the pipelines."

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill said the defense force was on standby to help "when the extent of the damage has been confirmed;" while the country's disaster management office reportedly said it could take days to confirm how many people had died.

Exxon Mobil Corp., which operates the Papua New Guinea LNG project, said communications with nearby communities were still down due to the quake, Reuters reported Feb. 27.

The U.S. oil company's partner, Australian entity Oil Search Ltd., said it would take at least a week to review all its facilities and infrastructure, with an industry source telling Reuters that the plant would likely be closed for at least that long.