At least three miners have been killed after a confrontation broke out at the Porgera gold mine in Papua New Guinea.
The ABC is reporting the disturbance started when police were deployed to investigate the deaths of two illegal miners.
It is understood they had fallen into the pit.
PNG’s Deputy Commissioner of Police Operations Simon Kauba said the altercation happened when police arrived at the mine.
"There was this confrontation from the illegal miners, those who were with those two who were deceased, and so they were dispersing them, and in the process may have been hurt, and later we found out one or two other people died from the confrontation," he said.
Kauba said while the situation is not good, it has been brought under control.
Operations at the mine in the Enga province have been temporarily suspended.
"We are sending in extra reinforcements so that we can allow the normal situation to come back and also allow the mine to operate at the normal rate,” he said.
A subsidiary of Canadian gold company Barrick, Barrick Niugini Limited holds a 95 per cent share in the mine, with the remainder owned by the PNG government.
The company said none of its security staff were reported to be involved in the incident resulting in the fatality.
Barrick said two of its mine workers have been attacked in separate incidents, injured by groups of illegal miners.
The company has previously reported issues with illegal mining occurring at the operations, listing it as one of the key challenges it faces at Porgera.
A company spokesperson said Barrick has previously requested police assistance to remove illegal miners which it says are gathering in large numbers at the open pit.
An investigation into the deaths is ongoing.