MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Bougainville mine won't reopen, says local leader

Published by MAC on 2008-02-06


Bougainville mine won't reopen, says local leader

6th February 2008

Chris Uma is the "heir" to deceased Francis Ona - the man who launched an attack on Rio Tinto's Panguna copper-gold mine in Bougainville twenty years ago, leading to an invasion by Papua New Guinea forces and an horrendous civil war. Last week he repudiated claims that his Me'ekamui Defence Force of local Pangunans supports re-opening of the mine.

Meanwhile, argument continues between the autonomous government of Bougainville and the central powers in Papua New Guinea, over which authority will decide on the exploitation of the islan'ds mineral resources.


Panguna mine 'doomed'

Postcourier (Papua New Guinea)

6th February 2008

THE abandoned Panguna copper/gold mine will remain closed for many years, says Me'ekamui Defence Force commander Chris Uma.

Mr Uma says he is frustrated that people including politicians known to him have been using his name to push for the reopening of the mine owned by Bougainville Copper Limited.

"The reopening of the mine will only renew bloodshed which none of us wants," he said. "MPs (Members of Parliament) can not talk about reopening the Panguna mine themselves as they are not authorised to talk about it." Mr Uma also said that the PNG Government should not talk about mineral rights over Bougainville as they would never have any rights over minerals on Bougainville.

"What are they talking about under the constitution of Papua New Guinea?" he asked.

Mr Uma has been quiet doing his own business and he said many people had been using the name Me'ekamui to do "silly things such as causing criminal activities" which he said was not condoned by the Me'ekamui Defence Force.

He said he did not support moves by a MP and former Bougainville Revolutionary Army fighters to start a Me'ekamui party that would challenge President Joseph Kabui for the president position during the next Autonomous Bougainville Government elections.

"When they start political parties and I am not in that (party), the party is not endorsed by M'ekamui," he said. "I am not with U-Vistract (fast money scheme), I never fired guns and what happened in Buin and Arawa (lawlessness) is not by Me'ekamui. "People should not just use Me'ekamui name for their own selfish gains."

He said he was put in authority by the late Francis Ona and he would not tolerate any misuse of the name Me'ekamui by people who had their own personal interest. Mr Uma said people with other motives were also trying to fly him to Australia and he advised them that if they had other interests, he would not support them.


Port Moresby looks to share in Bougainville mineral riches

Radio Australia

31st January 2008

The Papua New Guinea government says it wants a fair share of the valuable mineral rights in the autonomous region of Bougainville.

The once giant Bougainville Copper Mine was closed in 1989 during the island's protracted and bloody secessionist conflict, and has yet to reopen.

PNG's Mining Minister, Dr Puka Temu, says the government will transfer mining powers to Bougainville to develop its valuable mining, oil and gas reserves.

Bougainville's President, Joseph Kabui, says the PNG government should not have any say over mining on the Island.

He says mineral resources ownership must remain with the people of Bougainville.

But PNG's mining minister says PNG law guarantees the government rights over minerals on the island.

'The state should remain owner of all the resources. But in sharing the cake, it is important governments and landowners have a bigger share''.

Mining powers are expected to be officially transferred to Bougainville towards the middle of this year.

 

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