PNG landowners continue to halt nickel mine construction

Updated August 29, 2008 09:46:01

Angry Papua New Guinea landowners say they will continue to halt construction at a Chinese owned nickel mine until they meet with the PNG government next week.

Police reinforcements have been sent to the mine site to protect Chinese employees, some of who were assaulted by locals.

Our PNG correspondent, Steve Marshall, reports the construction of the billion dollar nickel mine in the Medang province on the PNG north east coast has been plagued by controversy.

Landowners like Joe Koroma are upset over a long delay in reviewing a mining agreement that PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael signed with Chinese government developers.

"Because everytime they talk to the Chinese at the work site or in the office they said 'go and ask Michael Somare, we deal with Michael Somare. This is Michael Somare's land'. This is what they are saying," he said.

Violence broke out at a mine construction site with police firing warning shots to restore order.

Landowners say the mine will remain closed until next week when they meet with government and mining officials.

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