30 Mar 2006

Bougainville leader says PNG's Panguna mine re-opening up to people

1:48 pm on 30 March 2006

The President of the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville, Joseph Kabui, says any decision on re-opening the derelict Panguna copper mine rests with the people of Bougainville.

The national government has announced that it is setting up a review with the mining company, Rio Tinto, and other stakeholders, into whether the mine can be re-opened.

The operation of the huge mine helped provoke the civil war which erupted in the late 1980s.

Mr Kabui says his government is supportive of the review but any final decision would come from a plebiscite on mining that his administration is to put to the people.

"Now if there is a pressing need, based on the requirement for a massive injection of capital to revive the economy of Bougainville and the people of Bougainville want the Panguna mine to re-open, we will go by it. There is a provision in the constitution and we intentionally put that in there knowing that mining was a very sensitive issue."