Lihir Island

Lihir Island

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Lihir Island is the largest island in the Lihir group
Lihir Group
Lihir Group is an island group in Papua New Guinea, located north of New Ireland, at . It is a part of Bismarck Archipelago. Largest island of the group is Lihir , other islands include: Mali, Mahur, Masahet and Sanambiet.- External links :* *...

 of islands, 22 km long and 14.5 km wide, in Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea , officially the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, is a country in Oceania, occupying the eastern half of the island of New Guinea and numerous offshore islands...

's New Ireland Province. It consists of a complex of several overlapping basalt
Basalt is a common extrusive volcanic rock. It is usually grey to black and fine-grained due to rapid cooling of lava at the surface of a planet. It may be porphyritic containing larger crystals in a fine matrix, or vesicular, or frothy scoria. Unweathered basalt is black or grey...

ic stratovolcano
A stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, is a tall, conical volcano built up by many layers of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and volcanic ash. Unlike shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes are characterized by a steep profile and periodic, explosive eruptions...

es rising 700m above sea level. While the volcanoes are not currently active, geothermal activity is still present. The island is in what was the forearc
A forearc or forarc, also called arc-trench gap is a depression in the sea floor located between a subduction zone and an associated volcanic arc. It is typically filled with sediments from the adjacent landmass and the island arc in addition to trapped oceanic crustal material...

 basin associated with the subduction
In geology, subduction is the process that takes place at convergent boundaries by which one tectonic plate moves under another tectonic plate, sinking into the Earth's mantle, as the plates converge. These 3D regions of mantle downwellings are known as "Subduction Zones"...

 of the Pacific Plate
Pacific Plate
The Pacific Plate is an oceanic tectonic plate that lies beneath the Pacific Ocean. At 103 million square kilometres, it is the largest tectonic plate....

 beneath the North Bismarck Plate
North Bismarck Plate
The North Bismarck Plate is a small tectonic plate located in the Bismarck Sea off the northeast coast of New Guinea.-Tectonics:To the north it collides with the Pacific Plate and the Caroline Plate, part of the western part subducts under the Woodlark Plate of New Guinea, and it is separated from...

. Subduction stopped about 10 million years ago with the collision of the Ontong Java plateau
Ontong Java Plateau
The Ontong Java Plateau is a huge oceanic plateau located in the Pacific Ocean, lying north of the Solomon Islands. The plateau covers an area of approximately , or roughly the size of Alaska, and reaches a thickness of up to . The plateau is of volcanic origin, composed mostly of flood basalts...

 with the subduction zone.

The Island is located 900 km NE of Port Moresby. Annual rainfall averages 4800mm per annum, temperature ranges between 19 and 35 degrees Celsius. The population of the Lihir Group increased from 12,570 in 2000 to an estimated 18,000 in 2007. Residents are of Melanesia
Melanesia is a subregion of Oceania extending from the western end of the Pacific Ocean to the Arafura Sea, and eastward to Fiji. The region comprises most of the islands immediately north and northeast of Australia...

n descent and have predominatly a subsistence lifestyle.

Lihirians still follow traditional belief systems, although official census records indicate that 99% of the PNG population are Christians, with Catholicism being the largest denomination. Most villages are located on the coastal fringe, although it is thought that originally some villages were located inland but were moved to the coast at the encouragement of missionaries.

The economic focal point of the Island is the Lihir Gold Mine. The mine is operated by Newcrest Mining Limited. The mine holds one of the world's largest gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

 resources (40 million ounces).

The mine is located on a geothermically active area and to enable the mine to proceed, holes have been drilled into the ground to release subterranean pressure. These gases have been, in part, captured and are used to operate a 56MW geothermal power
Geothermal power
Geothermal energy is thermal energy generated and stored in the Earth. Thermal energy is the energy that determines the temperature of matter. Earth's geothermal energy originates from the original formation of the planet and from radioactive decay of minerals...

 station which generates 75% of the mine's power requirements. It is proposed to extend the capacity of the plant so that the entire mine will be run on geothermal power.

The largest settlement on the Island is Londolovit, where most of the expatriate mine employees live. Basic shopping and health care facilities are located here. The local hospital has inpatient and outpatient facilities and provides health care services to both the expatriate and local communities.

An airstrip large enough to land a small jet is also located north of Londolovit, at Kunaye.

As is the case in many tropical regions, mosquito borne viruses are present on the island, as is malaria
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...


Land ownership follows traditional models with land being owned by clans. Insofar as it relates to land ownership, the society is matriarchal with land being passed though the female generations. The land cannot be sold; however, usage rights can be granted.

External links