MAC: Mines and Communities

Bougainville Update

Published by MAC on 2006-08-24

Bougainville Update

24th August 2006

Two very interesting stories arrived from Bougainville late last month. Both provide an intriguing indication of how some tables (in this case at least two of them) can get turned in the wake of mining-derived destruction. First, a group of Bougainvilleans working in the mining industry on the island attacked the government (whose authority at least in part derives from the movement which closed down the Panguna mine in 1989), for negotiating covertly with highly dubious overseas companies.

The miners cited China Non Ferrous Metals as being responsible for Zambia's worst-ever mining disaster since independence (as MAC also did in mid-August). The miners pointed to the need for prior "thoughtful consultation with all of the affected parties", though this is not the equivalent of recognising fully-informed prior consent for those living around the currently-abandoned minesite at Panguna.

We also learn that Panguna landowner families, who have consistently rejected a re-start of the Rio Tinto mine over the past 17 years, have stated artisanal gold mining in the concession area on a "commodity exchange" basis with traders.

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