MAC: Mines and Communities

Bougainville update

Published by MAC on 2007-09-04

Bougainville update

4th September 2007

The self-styled European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper recently issued another
press statement, seeking to pre-empt decisions over the future (if any) of the eponymous copper-gold mine at Panguna. This time it's calling for the area to be designated a "welcome zone." (sic)

It doesn't require much intelligence to deduce just who the group wants to be greeted with open arms.

But communities in the constituency surrounding the mine site take a markedly different view.

In an agreement signed last week, the autonomous provincial government (ABG) agreed that no decisions will be made about the mine's future, unless and until major safeguards have been implemented.

Panguna delay call


4th September 2007

THE re-opening of the Panguna mine in Central Bougainville should not be addressed quickly because it is a major cause of conflict and a very sensitive issue.

This is an opinion from the chiefs, Me’ekamui Defence Force, women and youths from the villages in the Ioro constituency surrounding the Panguna special mining lease. In the agreement — the Panguna Communiqué — which they signed with the Autonomous Bougainville Government last week, the main points they outlined in the agreement concerning the re-opening of the Panguna mine include:

- Panguna mine should be discussed until Bougainville is a sovereign and independent state and a suitable compensation package is offered to the people of Panguna and Bougainville for the deaths and destruction arising as a result of the Bougainville conflict

- Until mining powers and functions are drawn down to the ABG, and that ABG is able constitutionally to make new laws and policies over mining within Bougainville

- A review of mining laws, policies, and legal agreements is reached.

Sir Peter praises ABG, Me'ekamui leaders' move

The National

4th September 2007

SIR Peter Barter has welcomed and congratulated the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and Me'ekamui leaders on the announcement that leaders around Panguna have agreed to join in peace-building in Bougainville and support the ABG.

Sir Peter said: "This is truly good news. It means that peace and peace-building can finally be Bougainville-wide.
"It is exactly the breakthrough for which peace-loving people around Bougainville and the rest of Papua New Guinea have been hoping and praying for.

"It opens the way for a future in which people in Bougainville will be able to move around freely.

"It makes it possible for leaders and people on all sides to co-operate in restoring the services, reconstructing and improving the infrastructure, and working to realise the opportunities on which normalcy and development depend on."

Sir Peter was minister for Bougainville Affairs from 2002-2007, and a strong advocate and active worker for peace in Bougainville for many years before.

He said the latest announcement justified the patience with which successive National Governments and Bougainville leaders had been encouraging Me'ekamui leaders to reconcile with their sisters and brothers in Bougainville, and kept the door open for them to join in making, keeping and building peace.

"It brings Bougainville closer to the vision of unity and peace, which Bougainville leaders on all sides - including ABG President Joseph Kabui, the late Francis Ona, the late Theodore Miriung and many others - have had.

"The challenge now is for former combatants to lay down their arms; for members of different factions to reconcile; and for people around Bougainville to co-operate for the common good.

"This includes working together to make sure that the agreed autonomy arrangements operate as intended - so that Bougainvilleans have a real say in how they are governed, and good governance and an economy capable of sustaining autonomy are achieved.

"This is truly an historic moment. I congratulate and extend my very best wishes to everyone involved."


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