17 Dec 2010

Chinese role mooted in possible Bougainville mine re-opening

2:03 pm on 17 December 2010

The president of the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville says he is open to the idea of China taking a stake in plans to reopen the Panguna gold and copper mine.

John Momis, who was PNG's ambassador to China, says he is open to discussion to make sure Bougainville gets the best and most equitable deal.

Mr Momis says one theory is that the Chinese could pay for the mine's estimated four billion US dollar cost to reopen the mine in exchange for an equity stake.

He has confirmed that the Chinese have expressed an interest in the mine, but he says he is keeping all options open.

The mine closed as the island descended into a decade-long separatist war which ended with a truce in 1997 and a peace agreement in 2001 that allows for a possible move to independence.