by Serah Aupong – EM TV News, Port Moresby
Ok Tedi Mining Limited has announced that they have plans to shut down their mine temporarily.
In a media release issued today, the mine highlighted low water levels from the Fly River as the reason for this drastic measure.
The statement says this has affected essential supplies such as food and fuel into the mine site.
Electricity supply that is generated by the Ok Menga power station, which is the main source of electricity for Tabubil and OTML operations, is also affected.
The statement says the rationing of power has already commenced in Tabubil and Kiunga. Another coping measure the company is taking is through downsizing its employee numbers.
This will begin with what they call non-essential personnel being taken off duties, and will continue until only a skeleton crew remains. They say this downsizing will affect 30 per cent of expatriate staff and 15 per cent of local staff.
The Western Provincial Government and the PNG Government budgets depend heavily on the mines dividends and revenue from the taxes that it generates.
Low water levels were also one of the reasons for the company losing a significant amount of profit last year when they were only able to make US$17 million compared to their 2012 profit of US$472 million.
The Western Provincial Governor, Ati Wobiro, arrived back from a trip to Fiji today and his staff say his office will be commenting on this issue in the coming days.
Due to the mines significant contribution to the Western Province budget, OTML is in the process of working out an emergency response plan with the provincial administration.
Apart from the media release, the company remains tight lipped on any other information regarding this matter.