The Panguna mine on the Pacific island of Bougainville is one of the largest copper and gold deposits in the world. It’s estimated that Panguna mine still holds around $60 billion worth of copper, gold, and silver. eventuate to bring Bougainville closer to reopening the Panguna mine, which is seen by some as crucial for future economic autonomy. Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), under a new regime, is keen on re-opening the Panguna mine with promises of more equitable sharing of wealth with landowners and the Autonomous Bougainville Government, reports the Post Courier. The reopening the controversial Panguna copper mine in Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea, is in doubt. It also reveals its weaknesses. The Panguna reopening was the project that was dubbed to make Bougainville self-reliant and ultimately bring it to independence. It has been almost three decades since Panguna was abandoned, after anger about the mine led to the outbreak of an armed insurgency known as … Bougainville Copper's efforts to bring the past-producing Panguna mine back online is again in jeopardy over hasty moves by the Autonomous Bougainville government to make changes to the mining laws. The new agricultural reforms are a necessity for Indian farmers; the Modi government, however, must do more to ally their fears. Enjoying this article? While India and Pakistan argue and fight over the fate of Kashmir, is anyone listening to the Kashmiris? In August, 2014, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) paved the way for reopening the mine, with a new mining law, but last year, Rio Tinto decided to cut its losses and walk away, in the process gifting its 53.8 percent shareholding in BCL—17.4 per cent to the national government, and 36.4 per cent … The joint resolutions has been reaffirmed and resolved on 25th August 2015 in Arawa and signed at Arawa Youth … Over 98 percent of voters in a long-awaited referendum wanted independence. A court case against Rio Tinto failed. The result was split and ABG President, John Momis, said that division could be dangerous. By Dansi Oerupeu Contrary to authority’s claim of common support, the opposition against the Panguna Mine reopening is more apparent then ever. Plans to reopen the mine, which could help fund an independent Bougainville, have stalled due to competing claims over development rights over the long-shuttered Panguna mine. The Jubilee Report claims that the voices of mine-affected communities ‘have been distant from recent public discussion’ about the possible reopening of the mine, closed since 1989 as a result of the Bougainville … This is, as long as past mistakes are not forgotten. Bougainville Copper Limited, (BCL) a subsidiary of the British-Australian resources giant Rio Tinto, owned the mine at the time of the conflict and despite extracting around 550,000 tonnes of copper concentrate and 450,000 ounces of gold in its final year of production was forced to close as it appeared the separatists were not going to back down. The Bougainville government is having consultations on a regular basis with Bougainville Copper Limited about a possible re-opening of the Panguna mine. So, too, has the Australian government. This is, as long as past mistakes are not forgotten. But Panguna landowners and local employees — angered by the environmental destruction from the operation, poor wages, and unfair distribution of revenue (less than 1 percent of profits were reinvested in Bougainville) — eventually took up arms. BCL supplied helicopters, which were used as gunships, the pilots, troop transportation, fuel and troop barracks.”. Us, Write The anti-mining movement led to a ten-year war in 1989. According to Sir Mel Togolo, Executive Chairman of Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL), there is a long way to go before any timeline can be set. An autonomous region in Papua New Guinea, Bougainville is aiming for independence and elected a president who shares that ambition. It has also asked Australia, as the former colonial power responsible for authorizing the mine. The proposed reopening of Panguna has been framed by senior politicians as the only viable solution to Bougainville’s political and economic challenges. What does the 14th five-year plan tell us about China’s? The plaintiff’s lawyers claimed the mine’s manager in Bougainville at the time “encouraged the continuation of the blockade for the purposes of starving the bastards out.”. Forrest has friends in high places. As Bougainville Revolutionary Army leader Francis Ona once said, “Land to us is our lifeline, and we cannot be separated from it.”. Bougainville Copper Limited, (BCL) a subsidiary of the British-Australian resources giant Rio Tinto, owned the mine at the time of the conflict.... ...[S]ome of the islanders launched a class action lawsuit in the United States against Rio Tinto. "The Internet and social media’s arrival in the region have led to unprecedented levels of grassroots activism across societies.". Now, Australian Iron ore magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest as well as several other smaller mining companies have shown interest in resuming operations at the mine. Some women leaders were adamant that the reopening of Bougainville’s troubled, but lucrative, Panguna copper mine holds the key to future economic development. Will the Biden administration finally end the U.S. presence in Afghanistan? The meeting resolved that the BRA become a stakeholder in the Panguna Mine reopening and any other economic activities in and around Bougainville and name be changed when legal arrangements are in place. was invited to U.S. President Donald Trump’s state dinner hosting Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. “BCL was also directly involved in the military operations on Bougainville, and it played an active role. Just $5 a month. Due to the unrest in the area in the years that followed Rio Tinto’s withdrawal, no official investigation has been conducted on the impact the mining operation has had on the surrounding environment. Papua New Guinea is setting up a review into whether the giant Panguna copper mine can be reopened after it was shut down … Authorities fear the reopening of Panguna mine, donated by Rio Tinto in 2016, could open old wounds. The ABG owns a 36.4% share in BCL, and has consistently said reopening Panguna was essential for the island’s economic self-sufficiency if it … reported in 2002 that the mine was pumping 110 million cubic meters of waste, contaminated with cyanide and other chemicals, into the sea each year. Amid COVID-19, Pakistani journalists are looking for training to help them counter misinformation and stay safe while reporting. Get briefed on the story of the week, and developing stories to watch across the Asia-Pacific. Prosecutors investigated whether Abe, his aide and two executives from his political support group had subsidized the party fees in violation of campaign and election funds laws. It essentially paved the way for the nation’s transition to independence from Australia. Recently, the battle for Panguna entered new territory when rumors emerged of a Chinese delegation having offered $1 billion to fund the transition to Bougainville independence along with offers to invest in mining, tourism, and agriculture. Before the war, the Panguna mine generated more than $1 billion in national tax revenue and accounted for about 45 percent of Papua New Guinea’s total exports, 17 percent of its internal revenue, and 12 percent of its gross domestic product. In January 2018, the autonomous Bougainville government introduced a moratorium on mining at the Panguna mine, which had been at the heart of the secessionist … Alongside its core work providing a platform for Human Rights advocates, the Resource Centre runs several focused programme areas and regularly releases briefings and reports on areas of particular interest. An independent, resource-rich Bougainville would be a valuable ally to China as it seeks to have more influence in the South Pacific. Earlier this year I met representatives from Fortescue mining, but I have been waiting 10 months for them to make a commitment.”. By Joshua Mcdonald for The Diplomat November 22, 2019 South Korea's government is banking on AI as part of its post-COVID recovery. About In August, 2014, Bougainville paved the way for reopening the mine, with a new mining law that led some to hope the trucks might once again rumble into the pit at Panguna. Page … Bougainville Copper faces yet another fight to reopen a big PNG mine. In a public presentation to ward councillors and MPs, filmed by a crew from. Bougainville President Dr. John Momis, however, has accused RTG of attempting to bribe his government and of waging a subversive propaganda campaign. LOCALS FROM BOUGAINVILLE are keen to correct what they see as pro-mine propaganda regarding the reopening of the Panguna mine, warning against misrepresentation of views and a repeat of the bloody violence of the past. With the independence referendum beginning on Saturday, many local leaders admit that they would like to see the mine reopen as a way to boost revenue, yet distrust of giving a foreign mining company access again still looms large. Abstract. With an independence referendum on the horizon, reopening the Panguna mine offers both attractive opportunities and terrible consequences. Opinion pieces, interviews and blogs from across the business and human rights movement. 1096664 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in USA. Shareholding. All such elements of the reopening require feasibility studies, says Taylor. Author Notes Kylie McKenna is a research fellow with SSGM, and is the author of Corporate Social Responsibility and Natural Resource Conflict (Routledge, in press). Forrest has friends in high places. It has also asked Australia, as the former colonial power responsible for authorizing the mine. © 2020 Diplomat Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. With an independence referendum on the horizon, reopening the Panguna mine offers both attractive opportunities and terrible consequences. Rio Tinto has refused. An ongoing independence referendum does not address the key question at the root of the conflict: the future of the Panguna mine. The Panguna mine began operations in 1972 and closed in 1989. When that failed to crush the resistance, PNG, with the support of Australia, enforced a naval blockade cutting the island off from the rest of the world. For years, the Bougainville government has asked the company to make contributions to help with the clean up. Despite ongoing peace negotiations, the Taliban continue their attacks, recently incorporating weaponized commercially available drones into their arsenal. If we were going to see a new Cold War in the Caribbean, it should have happened by now. The UAE has officially approved a Sinopharm vaccine, while there are promising unofficial results from Sinovac’s Indonesia trial. The conflict officially ended nine years later, but Rio Tinto never returned. No matter the results of the referendum, any company looking to make a buck is sure to find opposition in Panguna. Former PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare provided the court with a sworn affidavit stating that it was Rio Tinto calling the shots during the war. In September, along with several other high-profile Australian business chiefs. June 24, 2018. Author: Angela East, Stockhead. The conflict cost as many as 15,000 lives and displaced 40,000 of the island’s 200,000 inhabitants. ", Events | Jobs | Media | Data Usage & Cookies | Contact Us. It’s been almost 10 years since the prospect of reopening the Panguna gold and copper mine was first raised. for Us. Also interested in Panguna is the Australia-based RTG Mining Group, which has the support of Philip Miriori, the chairman of the Panguna landowner association. Find out more about our impact, who we are and how we are funded. Jaintong's grandchildren are part of Arawa's booming population and reopening the Panguna mine is seen by many as a controversial choice but a vital one for the economic future. The Panguna mine...was...at the center of a decade-long civil war fought between the Bougainville Revolutionary Army and the Papua New Guinea Defense Force in the 1990s. Soldiers burned down villages, executed collaborators, and raped with impunity. It was the embossment of a well glossed imprint that was too good to be rejected. Joshua Mcdonald is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. No matter the results of the referendum, any company looking to make a buck is sure to find opposition in Panguna. But that too would be controversial. People in Panguna, especially the women folk, who have been subtly crying against the move, are now coming out strongly and using stringent measures to stop any attempt by ABG, PLA or BCL to reopen the mine. They are, however, united in their opposition to Momis’ plan for Panguna, which would see the government and Australian mining company, Callabus, set up a new joint company that would be given a monopoly over the island’s mineral wealth. This chapter examines the politics surrounding the reopening of the Panguna mine, the avowed objective of the ABG. On questions about how women might fare should the referendum usher in a new era of national economic sovereignty, opinions were less optimistic. The conflict cost as many as 15,000 lives and displaced 40,000 of the island's 200,000 inhabitants. “Where is Australia and the U.S. and Japan? Bougainville: Local leaders want to reopen Panguna Mine but distrust remains for foreign mining companies. The unprecedented designation threatens to generate frictions with an important U.S. partner in Southeast Asia. With an independence referendum on the horizon, reopening the Panguna mine offers both attractive opportunities and terrible consequences. Looking beyond Panguna – A post-2020 strategy for Bougainville. Even if the government does plan on operating the mine while mindful of its predecessors’’ mistakes, some parts of history are better off remaining in the grave. With the independence referendum...many local leaders admit that they would like to see the mine reopen as a way to boost revenue, yet distrust of giving a foreign mining company access again still looms large. Last week, it was confirmed that representatives from Forrest’s company had traveled to Bougainville in recent months to explore “potential opportunities.”. Read more "Will Bougainville Reopen the Panguna Mine? The Sydney Morning Herald reported in 2002 that the mine was pumping 110 million cubic meters of waste, contaminated with cyanide and other chemicals, into the sea each year. “Because of Rio Tinto’s financial influence in PNG, the company controlled the Government. When that, too, failed the government hired a U.K.-based private military company to carry out its operations in Bougainville. Sam Kauona, a former Bougainville Revolutionary Army general, unfurled a large map of Bougainville with Chinese script highlighting proposed bridges, highways, ports, airports, and luxury hotels. The mine was also at the center of a decade-long civil war fought between the Bougainville Revolutionary Army and the Papua New Guinea Defense Force in the 1990s. Panguna landowners accused the company of genocide, citing the company’s support for the blockade of the island by PNG forces. Mining ended at Panguna 31 years ago, after disputes over the mine’s profits and its environmental damage led to a decade-long civil war in Bougainville that killed up to 20,000 people. All military forces have a desired force requirement and a desired “critical mass” to aspire toward. By Dr Kristian Lasslett*| 19 April 2017. The Bougainville referendum vote is on course and set for this time next year but the future of the abandoned Panguna Copper Mine is still untenable. The. “This is the first holistic offer, which has come from China,” he said. India’s foreign trade policy must be aligned to its self-reliance goals. Every foreigner that enters Panguna with mine re-opening interests chats with crisis-created elite or the members of the Panguna Landowners Association (many of whom are BCL’s old ‘local friends’) and then return to spill their bias in-house chit-chat to the media as a break-through towards the re-opening of the Panguna mine. With an independence referendum on the horizon, reopening the Panguna mine offers both attractive opportunities and terrible consequences", 22 November 2019. Business & Human Rights Resource Centre Registered Charity in England & Wales no. What does the US election result mean for anti-money laundering efforts? With an independence referendum on the horizon, reopening the Panguna mine offers both attractive opportunities and terrible consequences", 22 … After a pandemic delay, the election is set to take place from August 12 to September 1. I draw upon interview data to discuss tensions within the space of landownership that have intensified as a consequence of the legacies of the conflict. In 2001, after a peace agreement was reached that gave Bougainville autonomy within PNG and ensured that an independence referendum would be held by 2020, some of the islanders launched a class action lawsuit in the United States against Rio Tinto. Paving the Way: The Pioneering Role of the French Duty of Vigilance Law and its Relevance for EU-Level Mandatory Due Diligence, Security issues & conflict zones: General. With an independence referendum on the horizon, reopening the Panguna mine offers both attractive opportunities and terrible consequences. Now...several other smaller mining companies have shown interest in resuming operations at the mine...Fortescue Metals Group Ltd...RTG Mining Group...Panguna Development Company...Callabus.... As Bougainville Revolutionary Army leader Francis Ona once said, "Land to us is our lifeline, and we cannot be separated from it. The proponent, Bougainville Copper Limited, is majority owned by Rio Tinto, whose … The 2019 Bougainville referendum could see the controversial Panguna mine reopened, offering both attractive opportunities and terrible consequences. The hearing will help determine if the company Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), which was forced to abandon the Panguna mine in 1989, should retain an exploration licence for the site. The Panguna mine on the Pacific island of Bougainville is one of the largest copper and gold deposits in the world. With an independence referendum on the horizon, reopening the Panguna mine offers both attractive opportunities and terrible consequences. affected by the Panguna Mine have joined in condeming the “seemingly shallow” report by NGO Jubilee Australia. It is known, however, that around 300,000 tonnes of ore and water were excavated every day in Panguna and that the mine tailings were discharged down the principal river system, the Kawerong-Jaba, which now flows blue because of toxic mixtures of heavy metals and other chemicals. "They're talking about the economic side of agriculture and fisheries but we cannot do it quickly because we have to turn it into cash, Panguna … It is known, however, that around 300,000 tonnes of ore and water were excavated every day in Panguna and that the mine tailings were discharged down the principal river system, the Kawerong-Jaba, which now flows blue because of toxic mixtures of heavy metals and other chemicals. The Panguna mine on the Pacific island of Bougainville is one of the largest copper and gold deposits in the world. But it also needs to work towards making domestic industries competitive. The Sandline affair, as it came to be known, was eventually leaked in the Australian media – first there was a public outrage, and then came the resignation of then-PNG Prime Minister Julius Chan. Due to the unrest in the area in the years that followed Rio Tinto’s withdrawal, no official investigation has been conducted on the impact the mining operation has had on the surrounding environment. Will they get it? The mine was also at the center of a decade-long civil war fought between … Panguna mine in operation, circa 1971 (Photo: Robert Owen Winkler/Wikimedia Commons) Suspending developments in Panguna aligns with those landowners, such as Lynette Ona, Chairwoman of the Bougainville Indigenous Women’s Landowner Association, who believe the mine should stay closed until … Panguna Copper Mine reopening is still untenable. While slowly diversifying its basket of economic and diplomatic relationships, Bhutan continues to remain a steadfast Indian ally. The mine was also at the center of a decade-long civil … It’s estimated that Panguna mine still holds around $60 billion worth of copper, gold, and silver. For one thing, reopening the mine would be disrespectful to those who perished in the civil war. 2011. The other big factor exciting interest in the reopening of the Panguna pit, is the likelihood that it will lead to the end of the moratorium on exploration that began in 1971, as a result of the controversy over that first Bougainville mine. In September, along with several other high-profile Australian business chiefs, Forrest was invited to U.S. President Donald Trump’s state dinner hosting Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. It is not clear how the government intends to proceed with this scheme since the legislation to enable it was blocked by the Bougainville legislature several months ago. With the independence referendum beginning on Saturday, many local leaders admit that they would like to see the mine reopen as a way to boost revenue, yet distrust of giving a foreign mining company access again still looms large. Bougainville Copper Limited is back in the headlines. The tycoon-funded vaccine drive demonstrates the durability of the patronage state that Hun Sen has built since the 1980s. In 1988, landowners led by Francis Ona broke into storerooms at the mine, stole explosives, and blew up Panguna’s power lines. The appearance of such links does not constitute endorsement of the websites they lead to or the information contained therein, over which we exercise no editorial control. Forrest’s company, Fortescue Metals Group Ltd, is the fourth largest iron ore producer in the world. 6 February 2019. Weekly Update 16 December: Dismissals & owed wages of Philippines fashion workers lead to protests, Chinese Responsible Investment Overseas Newsletter Issue 12, December 2020, Human rights due diligence within the tech sector: Developments and challenges. Panguna’s closure was the reason Bougainvilleans waged … Another landowner group, the Panguna Development Company, supports the mine’s former operator, BCL, in its bid to return to Panguna — pitting the two groups against one another. Another Mekong dam project threatens to cost the former royal capital its UNESCO World Heritage status. The Government of PNG followed Rio Tinto’s instructions and carried out its’ requests,” he wrote. This section contains a selection of key portals curated by our global team. Authorities feared the reopening of Panguna, donated by Rio Tinto in 2016, could open old wounds. References Healy, J. Disclaimer: Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and its collaborative partners take no position on the diverse views presented in linked material within the database, nor can we guarantee the factual accuracy of all the articles and reports we make available. The autonomous Papua New Guinea region is set to hold a referendum on independence by 2020 but it has to have a viable economy before Port Moresby … In a public presentation to ward councillors and MPs, filmed by a crew from 60 Minutes, Sam Kauona, a former Bougainville Revolutionary Army general, unfurled a large map of Bougainville with Chinese script highlighting proposed bridges, highways, ports, airports, and luxury hotels. Company chairman Robert Burns was in Buka last week and met with Bougainville cabinet … For years, the Bougainville government has asked the company to make contributions to help with the clean up. Former PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare provided the court with a sworn affidavit stating that it was Rio Tinto calling the shots during the war. Explore the big challenges, opportunities, debates and frameworks for business and human rights. Just this month, Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), former operator of Panguna Copper Mine on Bougainville, … Rio Tinto has refused. "Will Bougainville Reopen the Panguna Mine? This view downplayed opposition generated by the mine during its 20 years of operations and how this iss… Seoul has hesitated to tighten restrictions thus far, even as health authorities predict the number of daily cases might top 1,000. Click here to subscribe for full access. Bougainville's gold mine sparked a war that killed 20,000 - now it could be reopened. So, too, has the Australian government. In response, Papua New Guinea (PNG) sent in the military. Its main areas of operation are in Western Australia, but in recent years the company has increased its efforts abroad, especially in South America, where it was granted 32 exploration licenses in Ecuador alone. April 2017 Rio Tinto ’ s been almost 10 years since the prospect of reopening the Panguna mine reopened offering. 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