MAC: Mines and Communities

Warning: "Don't rush to re-open the Bougainville mine"

Published by MAC on 2011-01-31
Source: The PNG National, statement

A Bougainville MP - and former mining minister - has cast strong doubt on the validity of recent statements projected an early re-start for Rio Tinto's long-closed Panguna mine.

So has Clive Porabou of the Mekamui Hardliners, who warns that "there is likely to be more bloodshed if anyone tries to re-open the mine".

*The Panguna mine is owned by Rio Tinto subsidiary, Bougainville Copper Ltd. Operation of the mine led to a war of independence against Papua New Guinea. For background, see


Unresolved issues on mine reopening

The National (Papua New Guinea)

21 January 2011

Resolutions from recent talks on the reopening of the Panguna mine in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville between shareholders of Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL), the Panguna landowners and the state will not be pursued unless the Bougainville mining review is carried out and agreed upon.

Former mining minister and MP for Central Bougainville Sam Akoitai told reporters that only when the Bougainville mining agreement was reviewed could there be a possible reopening.

He said two important aspects of the BCL agreement review were the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the landowners' interest in the mining agreement.

"At the moment, the landowners are not organised and formed their integrated landowner groups yet from the mine's impact area to be able to participate in the reopening negotiation," Akoita said.

He said although shareholder BCL operator Rio Tinto and the national government had said there was the possibility of reopening of one the world's largest copper mines, there were very serious issues on the ground yet to be resolved.

They included issues such as landowners' participation, review of benefit sharing among impacted landowners, the ABG's stake, the Mekumai faction's resistance on the reopening and many more.

Re-opening an old wound

Statement of Clive Porabou of the Mekamui Hardliners

12 January 2011

Re-opening the Panguna mine is like re-opening an old wound.

In Melanesian culture and customs similar to the Mekamui/Bougainville culture and customs, anything that involved blood or shed blood is very hard to compensate with money.

In this regard, the closing down of the Panguna mine involved blood and the loss of lives of twenty thousand fighters, innocent children, men and women from the Southern tip to the Northern isles of Mekamui/Bougainville.

There is likely to be more bloodshed if anyone tries to re-open the mine.

The people that were left the negative legacy from the bitter war don't want to see the re-opening of the mine. Re-opening of the mine should not be dictated by outsiders as they don't care about the people and their land: their interest lies with the minerals and money. Despite all the promises being made again by the mining company, promises that they will bring development and employment, in fact the first sign of this kind of development is that they erect a fence and make the traditional landowner look like a foreigner in his own land. The employment created will mean that in the end the children will live in a land of no 'milk and honey'.

As we always argue, is it only copper and gold that can bring in sufficient revenue to make independence possible for an Island nation? The copper and gold at Panguna is a blood mineral: all of Bougainvilleans' blood lies there.

Let's talk about and invest in different economic revenue like cocoa,copra, tourism, fisheries etc. Unlike copper and gold mining, these will not cause deaths. Our Island is very small and very beautiful. Let's keep it that way for our future generations. Let us not destroy it with the craze for the copper and gold business.

For the love of Earth

Clive Porabou
Mekamui Hardliners

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