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Toroama Emphasises Stance on Panguna Reopening

After a landowner group has said that the Autonomous Bougainville Government has partnered with Caballus Mining, a firm based in Perth, to re-open Panguna Mina, its president, Ishmael Toroama has announced that the government is not colluding with any landowner groups or mining firms.

“The idea of Caballus operating a mine on Bougainville has long been shelved after their failed attempt to co-sponsor the mining amendments with the former Momis-led ABG,” said Toroama. “Let me make it clear that the current ABG under my Presidency is not colluding with Caballus, RTZ, Bougainville Copper Limited or any landowner group. Statements by companies or landowner groups with a vested interest in Panguna, who claim to be working with the current ABG, are false. We are not backing any company or any landowner group to reopen the mine. My government is committed to protecting landowner rights from undue influence by persons wishing to solicit favours from the Autonomous Bougainville Government in an attempt to reopen the mine.”

He added, “Any company wishing to develop Bougainville’s mineral resources, be it Panguna or the exploration of a greenfield site, must come through the proper channels. Bougainville has a mining act that governs the exploitation of our mineral resources, any parties wishing to be involved in the mining industry on Bougainville must comply with the laws of the land. As it stands, there is a moratorium in place over Panguna as well as the surrounding areas around the proximity of the mine. The Panguna Mine remains a very sensitive issue on Bougainville and parties wishing to reopen it must maintain a sense of decorum that respects the land, the landowners and the ABG.”

“We cannot continue to make unfounded claims that are based on promises from the previous regime and its band of leaders and public servants who sought to manipulate the people of Bougainville and wantonly exploit its resources,” he said, “I urge leaders from the past government as well as the current ABG to refrain from making unsubstantiated claims over the future of the mine at this time. Let us be frank in our dealings and be considerate of the welfare of all our people on Bougainville. It is high time we stopped using our independence aspirations as a bargaining chip to further our personal agenda.”

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