Panguna mine still a sensitive subject in Bougainville
Mining still remains a very sensitive issue on Bougainville and further discussion and talks about the future of mining in the region should be approached with utmost caution.
A recent summit noted that Panguna is Bougainville’s largest known bankable resource with an ore body valued at around US$58 billion (K175 billion).
However, due to the sensitive and divisive nature of the history of mining on Bougainville, the summit resolved that public debate and discussions should be discouraged and minimised in the immediate period leading up to the referendum.
Mary Queen of the Mountains Panguna Declaration is an accord signed at the Mekamui Veterans Unification summit on 25 July.
Mining came under resolution 6 which is fiscal self-reliance which has all the summits recommendations on mining.
There is no doubt Bougainville has huge economic potential not only in mining but in other areas including fisheries and agriculture, ready to be exploited so that Bougainville can become economically independent.
Mekamui defence force (MDF) general Moses Pipiro said the sensitivity of the issue requires a separate Mining summit itself.
“This is a very sensitive issue and we all need to approach it with utmost care and caution because many lives were lost because of Panguna mine,” Pipiro said.
“Therefore, I request for a separate mining summit so we can all put our thoughts together to decide the future of mining on Bougainville,” he said.
“I call for special stake holders including resource owner’s meetings need to be organised specifically to make economic plans with a view to sustain its independence without having to rely heavily on foreign aid.
The summit also echoed the urgent need for leaders to secure and protect the social and economic needs of the people in the immediate and medium terms of the post referendum period.
It has also been discussed and agreed that, Panguna mine be reopened after Bougainville’s political future is secured.