MAC: Mines and Communities

Opposition voiced to reopening Bougainville's Panguna mine

Published by MAC on 2010-12-21
Source: Postcourier, National (2010-12-13)

Recent reports from Bougainville have suggested that the closed-down Panguna copper-gold mine may soon be re-opened. See: Bougainville: Panguna gets the nod

However, it still remains unclear whether Indigenous landowners in the area will give their final consent.

A general in the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA), which vigorously fought against the project more than twenty years ago, says that :"The move to reopen the mine is welcomed but is a sensitive issue. We don't want to go down the same road we came out from".

Echoing this view, Lynette Ona, sister of Francis Ona who launched the BRA, declares:

"The women and children of Bougainville are not ready for the reopening of Panguna mine...We fought against the environmental damages the mine created and we fought for our independence.

"We have not yet gained independence and here we are considering reopening the mine".

BRA's stand on mine reopening

Letter to the Editor

Postcourier

13 December 2010

Following all the media coverage's in the recent weeks and the recent meeting by the so called landowners of Panguna Mine with the President for Bougainville, I would like to highlight certain issues that need to be taken into consideration before continuing discussions and plans to reopening of the Panguna Mine.

To set the record straight, the so called Panguna Landowners 'Did not close the mine'. Let it be known that it was the 'Bougainville Revolutionary Army'[BRA] that closed the mine because of environmental damage and for the interest of everyone on the Island. The BRA consists of fighters from the North, Central and South Bougainville. So everyone have to be considered and accommodated in any discussions in regard to the reopening of the mine.

A lot of BRA soldiers died during the conflict, fighting to protect the environment that was destroyed by the mining giant, fighting for the Land and lastly for total independence for Bougainville. For the so called Panguna land owners to try to reopen the mine without considering and accommodating those who have given their lives and died for the closure of the mine would be an inconsiderate and greedy move.

When the mine was shut down, there was a claim to the BCL by the late Francis Ona on behalf of the landowners and Bougainville, the amount was K10 billion. Let it be known to all parties interested in the reopening of the mine that we have not forgotten and we still stand firm with this claim.

The move to reopen the mine is welcomed but is a sensitive issue. We don't want to go down the same road we came out from.

We fought against environmental damage, land rights and independence for Bougainville, therefore any discussions to reopen the mine must have a fair representation.

I call on the National Government not to raise false hopes without gauging the views of all parties involved.

Ishmael Totoama
BRA general


Women oppose Panguna review

By Stephanie Elizah

The National (PNG)

15 December 2010

THE women and children of Bougainville are not ready for the reopening of Panguna mine, a representative of the Bougainville Indigenous Women's Landowners Association and sister of renowned Bougainville Revolutionary Army leader, late Francis Ona.

Lynette Ona, in response to recent reports of the mine's reopening and talks to review the Bougainville Copper Agreement, added that the women of Bougainville had not been consulted for their views about the mine.

"In the past years, the women of Bougainville were just names, we never signed any agreement, we were never justly represented," she said.

Ona added: "Panguna mine is not owned by only Panguna landowners because of the crisis, many lives were lost right across the island.

The mine belongs to the people from the South, Central and North Bougainville and they must be involved in any talks regarding the mine.

"The people of Bougainville must make a good decision about the reopening of the mine because if issues arising from the crisis like payment of damages and compensation for lives lost are not resolved, it will not be a crisis for politicians or the world, it will be the people fighting amongst themselves," Ona said.

She urged that in order for peace and stability to continue on the island, a proper feasibility study must be conducted throughout the autonomous region.

"Consultation and awareness must be carried out by the stakeholders to gauge people's feedback on the feasibility of re-opening the mine.

"We fought against the environmental damages the mine created and we fought for our independence. We have not yet gained independence and here we are considering reopening the mine," Ona said.

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