MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Doing good for the people of Bougainville

Published by MAC on 2007-06-08


Doing good for the people of Bougainville

8th June 2007

It would be laughable if it didn't mask a profound historical injustice: the self-styled European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper (a company majority owned by Rio Tinto) are demanding exemplary punishment of Bougainville citizens, accused of smuggling gold out of the Panguna lease area. Just where this gold comes from, who is profiting by smuggling it and where it ends up, seems highly speculative. But it may be that Panguna landowners themselves are making money from smallscale mining on their territory which, after all, was filched from them by Rio Tinto from the late sixties until all operations wewre halted in 1989.

"We imagine the good that could have been done for the Bougainvillean people.. instead of filling the pockets of a few", declares Mr Sturm, the self-appointed leader of the European shareholders.

No doubt many people on Bougainville "imagine the good" that could be done by judicious and environmentally sensitive use of small scale gold mining techniques controlled by local cooperatives, instead of their resources once again being exploited to fill the pockets of a foreign company, let alone those of Rio Tinto.


Press Release: 30 million Kina Robbery!

by The European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper

8th June 2007

Refering to the following article that has been published in the Post Courier (Port Moresby/PNG) on June 8th, 2007 :

"Illegal gold trade

"MORE than 500 kilograms of gold has been smuggled out of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. And the responsible authorities in Bougainville claim they cannot do anything about it because the mining powers are still vested in the Papua New Guinea Government.

"Prominent Bougainville leaders are allegedly involved in the gold smuggling scandal. Gold is being taken out through air and sea services, including through Gizo in Solomon Islands.

"Bougainville police yesterday said they had not received any formal reports or complaints on the alleged smuggling but confirmed such an activity was being carried out.

"On Wednesday night, a reporter was part of a three-way conversation about a dealer who had seven kilograms of gold dust ready to be sold to a Port Moresby-based prominent Bougainvillean yesterday through Air Niugini. The dealer said he had been trying to contact another dealer in Port Moresby but could not because he did not have enough Telikad units to call.

"It appeared the dealer and the reporter know people in Port Moresby who buy gold from Buka, Arawa and Bougainville as a whole.

" ".there is gold dust and gold nuggets that we are dealing with here. You must know that Bougainville people are panning for gold, it's alluvial gold.

" "There is lead oxide absorption impurities and there are other techniques like acids, there is hydrochloric and sulphuric acids being used here and that is why it is difficult for one to understand how they are being taken out of the region," the executive told the Post-Courier.

"Yesterday, Bougainville business executive Thomas Rabanz said the issue of gold smuggling was one of the main agenda items in the Bougainville Business Association meeting in Buka on Wednesday. Concerns were raised for the ABG hierarchy to immediately and urgently act, based on the Constitution which stipulates all resources are owned by the people and come up with a strategy to "stop this nonsense"."

Statement: Bougainville: K30 million Thieves Must Be Brought to Justice!

The European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper (ESBC) declared that they were absolutely not amused to read about the robbery of 500 kilograms of gold from Bougainville's resources. "We demand an unreserved investigation of that scandal," said ESBC-Spokesman Mr Axel G. Sturm on Friday in Andorra. "We expect that President Joseph Kabui - hopefully in cooperation with the police officers just arriving from Australia and New Zealand - will soon shed light on this shameful incident. We are very much upset because we imagine the good that could have been done for the Bougainvillean people with such the enormous amount of K30 million instead of filling the pockets of a few.

For that we demand that those criminals are brought to justice where they should face a severe penalty!"

The ESBC would also like to know if there were indications that the recently implanted Canadian Invincible Resources is involved in that affair. Further the European Shareholders pointed out in their statement that only a fast re-opening of the Panguna mine by a big and experienced company like BCL can guarantee regular and controlled mining: "Uncontrolled mining," said Mr Sturm, "always involves a danger to nature and may cause environmental damage that could not be repaired. We hope that all parties concerned in mining in Bougainville are aware of the seriousness of the actual situation and that they will soon get together and work on a solution for Bougainville that will avoid criminal activities like this in the future."

Spokesman: Axel G. Sturm

Suite 606 * Avinguda Sant Jaume 2 * AD700 Escaldes-Engordany * Principality of Andorra / Europe

Phone: +376 82 88 87 * Fax: +376 82 88 57 * Mail: bougainville@sturmpr.com

 

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