29 Sep 2006

Australia PM battles to save PNG's Kokoda from goldmine

1:32 pm on 29 September 2006

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard has moved to scupper plans by an Australian company to mine gold along Papua New Guinea's Kokoda Track.

The Kokoda track was where more than 600 Australian soldiers lost their lives in some of the fiercest fighting of the Second World War.

The newspaper, The Australian, reports that Mr Howard is determined that the proposal by Gold Coast-based Frontier Resources is scrapped.

Mr Howard is prepared to tell his PNG counterpart, Sir Michael Somare, that Australia will not accept large-scale mining on the track, where thousands of Australian trekkers make an annual pilgrimage.

But Frontier yesterday warned against "foreign government intervention" over a gold deposit it has unearthed in the Mount Bini area, northeast of Port Moresby.

The deposit is estimated to be worth almost one billion US dollars at current prices.