Papua New Guinea villagers storm nickel mine, injure five Chinese workers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 August, 2014, 10:55pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 August, 2014, 10:55pm


Five Chinese workers were hurt after armed villagers stormed a nickel mine in Papua New Guinea, damaging equipment and forcing it to close, a report said yesterday.

PNG police said they were investigating the attack after the staff were injured when the villagers charged into the Kurumbukari mine southwest of Madang on Monday morning, The National paper reported.

The Kurumbukari mine is part of the US$2.1 billion Chinese-run Ramu Nickel project, which produces 31,000 tonnes of nickel and 3,000 tonnes of cobalt annually on the northern coast of the Pacific nation.

"Five Chinese employees got injured with one receiving 14 stitches," a Ramu spokesman said.

Machinery was burned and office equipment trashed, the report said, adding that Ramu president Wang Jicheng visited the site to assess the damage.

The project's Basamuk refinery site was attacked by PNG mine workers in 2009, injuring five Chinese and three locals.

The Chinese government-owned Metallurgical Group Corporation is the majority owner of the project. A local partner owns an 8.56 per cent stake.

The National reported that while the company was looking into what sparked the attack, earlier investigations suggested illegal migrants to the area were unhappy with the firm's hiring policies.

The Ramu representative said his firm had been trying to encourage locals to undergo training. It was also trying to recruit skilled workers from outside the region to fill an "increasing skills gap".