14 Feb 2011

Bougainville mining prospects fraught with complexities, says academic

4:21 pm on 14 February 2011

An academic has sounded a note of caution around discussions over the potential re-opening of the Panguna mine in the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville.

A meeting is planned for next week in Arawa to discuss landowner issues around the upcoming review of the Bougainville Copper Agreement.

Bougainville's President John Momis says the bulk of the people in the province want the mine to be reopened, and that his government is working to ensure equitable sharing with landowners.

But Ted Wolfers, Professor of Politics at the University of Wollongong, says that addressing landowner equity is just one of a number of complex issues:

"Because not only have you got landowners involved, you've got state ownership of a proportion of BCL; you've got to convince BCL or whoever takes it over to invest huge sums of money in restarting the mine and you've also got a court case pending in the United States over what is seen as some of the things it allegedly did wrong in the early stages of the conflict."

Academic Ted Wolfers