MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Bougainville government to decide on mining activities: Kabui

Published by MAC on 2006-03-31

Bougainville government to decide on mining activities: Kabui

Radio Australia

31st March 2006

Papua New Guinea's autonomous Bougainville government says PNG's central government has no right over mining on island.

President Joseph Kabui says Bougainville's autonomous constitution gives ownership of mineral resources to landowners.

He says the PNG government, as well as mining or exploration companies, should seek his government's approval for mining activities in Bougainville.

President Kabui says it will be a mistake to allow Papua New Guinea or any mining company to dictate mining policies on Bougainville.

Moves to reopen mine

However, PNG Mining Minister Sam Akoitai says Port Moresby has regulatory powers over mining in the country, including the whole of Bougainville.

Mr Akoitai says he has held talks with Rio Tinto, who once owned the Panguna copper mine in southern Bougainville, about the possibility of re-opening the mine.

President Kabui insists the reopening would require unanimous agreement from the people who have endured decades of pain and suffering.

He says landowners demands must be met to avoid a repeat of a secessionist war in the 1990s, when Bougainville rebels took up arms against Rio Tinto and forced the mine's closure.

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