Doing good for the people of BougainvillePublished 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.