Papua New Guinea's deputy prime minister has dismissed reports that he said cabinet has voted to shut down the operations of the Ok Tedi copper mine in 2010.
The Post Courier newspaper had reported that Sir Moi Avei recently told stakeholders that the decision was made after Ok Tedi failed to come up with practical solutions to its environment management plan.
Both the government and the management of Ok Tedi are under pressure over how to respond to the mine's increasing acid rock drainage which is damaging ecosystems along the Ok Tedi and Fly rivers.
But Sir Moi says that Ok Tedi is doing its level best to address the problem, and he denies that cabinet wants to shut down the operations early...
"The Ok Tedi mine is proposed to close about 2012, if memory serves me correct. But cabinet's concern is finding an environmental solution. So the board is supposed to come to cabinet with a concrete proposal of the environmental solution."
Sir Moi Avei