The police in the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville are still to decide whether 17 Chinese workers found stripping scrap metal at the abandoned Panguna mine workshops will be charged.
The central Bougainville police commander, Inspector Herman Birengka, says the Chinese were brought in by one group of landowners who had formed a company to take the remaining scrap from the mine site.
He says other landowners have complained about the Chinese workers' presence, while police are concerned that they do not have the required permission from the Bougainville or national governments to be there.
"There was no proper authorisation, approval given for these people to come into Bougainville, especially in Panguna, where it is a view by people here that it is a sensitive area, for these Chinese nationals to come and work there. And it is a very big concern for people here to have the police get them out of Bougainville before things go out of hand."
Inspector Herman Birengka says in the meantime the Chinese have been allowed to return to the mine site.