15 May 2010

Moves underway in PNG's Bougainville to review Panguna mine

7:24 am on 15 May 2010

Villagers who shut down an Australian-run gold and copper mine in Papua New Guinea's autonomous region of Bougainville during a violent civil war now want to reopen the mine.

Bougainvilleans are now voting in their second general elections to decide who will prepare the island for a promised referendum on full independence from Papua New Guinea, to be held between 2015 and 2020.

The massive Panguna mine in central Bougainville had sparked the bloody decade-long guerilla war that claimed an estimated 20,000 lives.

The islanders now think their secessionist future might depend on the revenue it can generate.

Bougainville President, James Tanis, told AAP moves were now under way to review the mine agreement.

He said if this mine funded Papua New Guinea independence (1975) then it can fund Bougainville autonomy and independence.

Bougainville Copper Limited executive, Paul Coleman, travelled to Bougainville last year for the first time since the mine's closure for talks with President Tanis in Buka.