Mine workers attacked by PNG locals

THREE Chinese workers at Papua New Guinea's controversial Ramu nickel mine have been attacked by 100 armed local landowners.

The workers from China's state-owned Metallurgical Construction Company Ramu nickel mine at Basamuk Bay in Madang province, on PNG's northwest coast, are now recovering in Madang's Modilon General Hospital.

In a separate incident PNG workers at MCC's Kurumbukari mine site, 150km east of Basamuk Bay, had stopped work over a pay dispute, PNG's The National newspaper reported.

MCC had evacuated its other Chinese workers amid fears of more attacks.

Police were investigating Sunday's attack at the Ramu mine, but it was unclear what provoked the incident.

PNG's $US1.2 billion ($1.41 billion) agreement with MCC to build the Ramu mine is expected to yield 143 million tonnes of nickel over 20 years.

The mine also will pump 100 million tonnes of waste slurry into the province's pristine Astrolabe Bay during the next 20 years.

As well as environmental concerns, the PNG government has been accused of breaking the country's own laws by allowing mining work to go ahead, despite an ongoing dispute among local landowners about who has traditional ownership of the site.

Locals claim they were not consulted about the project and have been left out of royalty deals

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