PNG Resource Week: Panguna Mine Shares Experience

By: Roselyn Erehe July 08, 2024

Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) President and Minister for Minerals & Energy, Hon. Ishmael Toroama headed the panel discussion. The session was facilitated by President of PNG CORE, Anthony Smaré. - Image Provided by PNG CORE.

Theresa Jaintong, a prominent women’s representative from Panguna Mine, emphasized women's pivotal role in shaping Panguna’s future amidst historical grievances and environmental concerns.

Speaking during the inaugural Papua New Guinea Resource Week, she addressed delegates, companies, stakeholders, investors, partners, and the media in Session 8 titled “Panguna Lessons and Eye to the Future.”

Jaintong highlighted the challenges and aspirations of Panguna's community, stressing the urgent need for sustainable practices and inclusive development strategies. She described the visible scars of extensive mining activities on the landscape, noting erosion and greenish-blue pools from copper traces.

Despite challenges, Panguna women have resiliently continued traditional roles in small-scale mining and farming, sustaining local economies, she said.

Her speech underscored the broader social and economic impacts of mining and advocated for equitable resolutions that prioritize local concerns over financial gains. The grassroots Panguna Mine Dialogue Project, led by local leaders and supported by women's groups, exemplifies this approach to conflict resolution and sustainable development.

Jaintong emphasized women's involvement as crucial for negotiating solutions that reflect local knowledge and priorities. She highlighted the Panguna Mine Literacy Impact Assessment (PMIA), led by a committee of community leaders and contractors, gathering data on environmental impacts and engaging the community.

Furthermore, Jaintong proposed women-led forums and economic empowerment programs to ensure women's perspectives drive Panguna's redevelopment. She also stressed intergenerational leadership initiatives to strengthen community resilience and amplify women's voices.

In conclusion, she envisioned a Panguna where women's leadership and local knowledge lead to a prosperous and equitable future for all.

The session saw 29 Panguna delegates at the 2024 PNG Resources Week – Canconex at the University of Papua New Guinea, hosted by PNG Chamber of Resources and Energy (PNG CORE).

The Panguna Landowners Interim Council also presented lessons learned from Panguna Mine's impact on landowners and affected communities.

Chairman Samson Kaissy confirmed 20 council members from the five landowner clans that attended, following the Autonomous Bougainville Government's extension of the Panguna project's exploration license (EL01), supporting economic self-reliance ambitions.

Kaissy noted Panguna's historical significance and plans for redevelopment, alongside insights from ABG President and Minister for Minerals & Energy, Hon. Ishmael Toroama.

President Toroama emphasized two critical lessons from Panguna: the importance of community affairs and local content for successful resource developments, and the need for inclusive and equitable resource laws.

He stressed the ABG's commitment to learn from past grievances and ensure any future large-scale mining in Bougainville avoids repeating past mistakes, focusing on sustainable development aligned with self-determination goals.

Under President Toroama's leadership, Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) now includes over 71% local representation on its board. BCL thanked the Chamber for its role in community affairs and sustainable development during PNG Resources Week.

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