|Protest closes Porgera gold mine in PNG|
by AAP, The Age
The giant Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea's Highlands has been forced to stop operations after local landowners blocked the access route to the mine.
The Porgera Joint Venture mining company, majority owned by Barrick Gold Corporation of Canada, was forced to halt work at the mine due to the landowner protest but hoped to resolve the issue through negotiation, PNG's EMTV television station reported.
The open pit and underground mine in Enga Province employs more than 2,300 people.
Landowners have been in dispute with the company over the deaths of illegal miners alleged to have been killed by mine security personnel.
The mining company said illegal miners courted danger when they entered the mine site.
It said some had died in falls or after being hit by falling rocks and others had engaged in armed exchanges with security personnel.
The PNG government has launched an inquiry into the issue.
Landowners have also sought relocation from the mining lease area.