hide message

Welcome to the Resource Centre

We make it our mission to work with advocates in civil society, business and government to address inequalities of power, seek remedy for abuse, and ensure protection of people and planet.

Both companies and impacted communities thank us for the resources and support we provide.

This is only possible because of your support. Please make a donation today.

Thank you,
Phil Bloomer, Executive Director

Donate now hide message

Papua New Guinea: As Bougainville independence referendum looms; miners jostle for licences & fears of new conflict grow

Author: Sarah Danckert and Ben Bohane, The Sydney Morning Herald, Published on: 20 November 2019

"This derelict mine caused a bloody war. Now Aussie companies are fighting over it again", 15 November 2019

Iron ore magnate Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest has joined the race...for access to some of the world’s biggest copper and gold deposits on the Pacific island of Bougainville. [China] is also sniffing around for opportunities…, although not necessarily the Panguna mine itself, which was valued recently at…$US58 billion.

[Run] by Rio Tinto, the mine was at the centre of a decade-long conflict over allegations that locals were being ripped off and the environment damaged. [A]fter the mine closed, a battle for control…raged between the Bougainville Revolutionary Army and the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Defence Force. On November 23, Bougainvilleans will go to the polls and are expected to vote overwhelmingly for independence from [PNG]. [T]here is a real risk of new disputes between landowner groups as miners, many with links to Australia, could reignite the crisis...

[Rio’s] former subsidiary BCL is still in the race for a mining licence [but]…a number of new entrants are also in the game,…among them…RTG Mining Inc,…Kalia Limited [and]…Caballus Mining. Disputes…have been reflected in intense politicking among local landowner groups and political players on Bougainville. Bougainville’s president John Momis has copped much criticism for entertaining the Caballus deal. [Momis] initially supported a moratorium on mining at Panguna to avoid reigniting old conflicts between landowner groups...

RTG…[chairman said]: “There can be no independence without first setting the country on a pathway to fiscal self-reliance and Panguna is the only asset which can assist this fundamental objective.” BCL company secretary Mark Hitchcock said…the company retained strong support among landowners and rejected suggestions the company had lost its social licence to operate...

Read the full post here

Related companies: BCL Caballus Mining Fortescue Metals Group Kalia Limited Rio Tinto RTG Mining Inc.