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UPDATE 2-Papua New Guinea's Ok Tedi copper mine suspends operations over COVID-19

* Ok Tedi copper mine expects loss of $59 mln revenue

* Exxon says PNG LNG operations normal

* Newcrest Lihir gold mine operations unaffected

* Fly-in fly-out workers face Australia suspension (Adds Exxon, Oil Search, Newcrest, St Barbara comments and latest PNG coronavirus case numbers)

MELBOURNE, March 18 (Reuters) - Papua New Guinea’s Ok Tedi Mining Ltd will suspend copper mining for two weeks from Friday because of a steep rise in coronavirus infections in the South Pacific nation, including the mine site.

Ok Tedi Acting Managing Director Kedi Ilimbit said operations would be suspended for 14 days to stop further transmission of COVID-19 within its mining operations.

State-owned Ok Tedi said the shutdown would cost about 210 million kinas ($59 million) of revenue, directly hitting foreign currency inflows to the country as it battles an economic slump.

The Australian government this week suspended travel exemptions which had allowed fly-in-fly-out (FIFO) mining and energy workers to travel between the two countries. Five people who travelled from Ok Tedi to Queensland earlier this month were diagnosed with COVID-19.

The PNG government reported five deaths and 128 new cases on Tuesday, taking total cases to 2,479 and the death toll to 31. Health experts believe the official data likely significantly underreports case numbers.

The Western Province, where Ok Tedi is located, has the second highest number of confirmed cases at 324, after Port Moresby, the capital.

Operations at the biggest resources project in the country, Exxon Mobil Corp’s PNG LNG, are continuing as normal, an Exxon Mobil spokesman said.

“We have established processes in place to manage impacts from infections disease outbreaks,” the spokesman said by email.

Newcrest Mining said output at its Lihir Gold mine has been unaffected so far.

Newcrest and oil and gas producer Oil Search said they were seeking clarification on Australia’s travel ban for FIFO staff.

St Barbara said it was limiting movement of people to and from its Simberi gold mine, on an island 900 kilometres (560 miles) away from Port Moresby, after detecting a small number of COVID-19 cases in its quarantine program.

$1=3.5714 kinas Reporting by Sonali Paul; Additional reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Jane Wardell

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