Papua New Guinea’s Ok Tedi copper, gold mine halts production

Papua New Guinea’s Ok Tedi copper, gold mine halts production

Ok Tedi mine. (Image from WikiMedia Commons)

Papua New Guinea's controversial Ok Tedi copper and gold mine will slash jobs and temporarily halt production as a result of weak copper prices and recent dry weather.

The state-owned company said that low water levels in the close-by Fly River have made it difficult to transport copper ore from the Kiunga port to customers at the mouth of the river.

The miner added that the low river flow also affected the Ok Menga power station, which is the main source of power for its operations.

"Concurrent with the planned stand down of the workforce due to the dry weather event, the permanent workforce number of expatriates will be reduced by 30% and nationals by 15%," it said in a statement.

Aside from the cutbacks, Ok Tedi will be standing down most of its workforce without pay, but offering some allowances.

Ok Tedi faced a similar situation in 1997 and 1998, when its operations were closed for more than six months, following an El Niño weather pattern.

Both copper and gold prices have lost their value this year, hitting historical lows.