18 Feb 2008

PNG Government says decision imminent on whether it will allow mining near Kokoda Track

8:24 pm on 18 February 2008

The Papua New Guinea government is in negotiations with Koiari landowners to try and break their blockade of the historic Kokoda Track.

The landowners are protesting at the delay by the government in renewing the license for Australian mining company Frontier Resources to explore the Kokoda area for copper and gold.

However Australia's government is opposed to any development that could impact on the track where Australian soldiers repelled advancing Japanese troops during the 2nd World War.

PNG's Deputy Prime Minister and Mining Minister Puka Temu says that the matter must be discussed broadly before any decision is made.

"It's been a tourism icon for the country and we want to preserve it as long as possible and from the information we have got mining will definitely impact on the Track. And there are other current postulations - when you look at open pit mining. We have seen in the country how open mining can extend and extend."

Puka Temu says he hopes to reach agreement to end the blockade for the opening of the new trekking season at the start of March.