MAC: Mines and Communities

Papua New Guinea Update

Published by MAC on 2006-03-14

Papua New Guinea update

14th March 2006

According to the Korea Herald, Papua New Guinea's ambassador to the country is offering his state's mineral resources on a platter to the Asian "tiger". That a PNG diplomat could do so - presumably with his government's blessing - shows the degree to which any concept of prior community consent has now been eroded in the south Pacific nation.

Equally outrageous is the reported statement by ambassador Kuma Aua that Korea may be first in line to benefit from re-opening the Panguna mine on the autonomous island of Bougainville.

Mr Aua says he has already asked the PNG government to "lift" the moratorium on mining in Bougainville which dates back to 1989 (not 1971 as mis-stated in the article below), when Rio Tinto (CRA) was forced to pack up and leave by the nascent Bougainville Revolutionary Army.

However, Rio Tinto still controls Bougainville Copper Ltd, and ostensibly hasn't yet decided whether to re-enter the island or sell the company. Nor have the people of Bougainville been given the opportunity to make their own decision on this vital issue.

But last week, apparently for the first time since Bougainville was granted autonomy, there were official talks between PNG and Rio Tinto, mooting the UK-Australian mining company's resumption of mining on Bougainville.

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