Papua New Guinea's autonomous Bougainville region has moved a step closer towards independence after signing a mining, oil and gas agreement.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Puka Temu, and the President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Joseph Kabui, agreed to the 15-point strategic transfer agreement during a one-day meeting in Alotau in Milne Bay yesterday.
The Post Courier newspaper reports that the agreement moves Bougainville closer to full independence which will be decided in a referendum after 2015.
It is understood the PNG government will still provide some support and regain some revenue from Bougainville mining projects resumed under the new powers.
The ABG has previously said it wants mining to resume at the abandoned Panguna copper mine to bring in much-needed revenue, but that this would only happen after full agreement from landowners and Bougainvilleans.