October 12, 2008

Chinese Joint Venture Denies Staff Entering Papua New Guinea Illegally

Text of report by Papua New Guinea Post-Courier website on 10 October

The multi-billion kina mining company accused of causing a security scare in Papua New Guinea has denied outright it was doing so. It warned further negative speculation and claims against the Chinese-run mine would jeopardize the operation of the mine and possibly see PNG losing an expected 8 per cent increase in gross domestic product (GDP).

The Ramu nickel-cobalt mine, based in Madang Province, yesterday brushed aside claims [made in a Post-Courier report on 9 October] its expatriate workers, mainly engineers, were entering the country without being checked by customs, immigration and security officials. It also refuted claims the PNG government had protected its incoming workers from security checks and described a report published by this newspaper yesterday as untrue.

Ramu NiCo Management (MCC) Ltd deputy general manager for corporate office Wu Xuefeng said the company had followed every due process and procedure of the country's laws.

The company hit back after the National Intelligence Organization and the Transnational Crime Unit claimed that the PNG government had exempted expatriates entering the country to work for the mine from security, customs and immigration checks.

They also claimed that more than 300 "unhealthy looking" engineers bound for the mine were entering the country every week since last year.

Mr Xuefeng [sic] said claims Ramu NiCo expatriate workers entered PNG without proper checks were "offensive and implausible". He said the mine had been in compliance with relevant laws and regulations. He also said claims that the government had given special check exemptions to mine staff were untrue, adding "any effort to check the validity of the information would have shown its absurdity".

"Needless to mention that there is also no truth in alleged numbers of Ramu NiCo expatriates into PNG," Mr Xuefeng said.

Almost 1.4bn dollars has been invested in the mine, with almost 1,000 local people already being employed and expectations the number will grow to around 3,000 when the mine reaches peak construction. It is now in the construction stage and progressing well. It is expected when the project comes into operation, it will create about 1,000 jobs directly for local people

"Ramu NiCo Management Ltd and Ramu Nickel Joint Ventures, which includes three Papua New Guinean companies, are working to see this development achieved in the shortest realistic timeframe," Mr Xuefeng said.

"To achieve this development all stakeholders, including the relevant government departments and agencies, landowners, governments, the business community and the developers must work closely together for their mutual benefit. Continued negative speculations and rumours about the company's activities will only be to the detriment of the project and its stakeholders."

Originally published by Papua New Guinea Post-Courier website, Port Moresby, in English 10 Oct 08.

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