9 May 2011

Bougainville's Panguna landowners close to forming group to negotiate mine opening

7:43 pm on 9 May 2011

The president of the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville says they're making progress in plans for a possible re-opening of the huge Panguna copper and gold mine.

Mining at Panguna is seen as the key to the province advancing economically.

John Momis says he's waiting for the six landowning groups around the mine to form a representative body that can negotiate with his and the national government and Bougainville Copper Ltd.

This comes amid continuing opposition to renewed mining at Panguna, including from elements of the former militant group, the Me'ekamiu, but Mr Momis says he's unconcerned by that.

"We can't listen and we can't be deterred by such mutterings. The landowners have a lot to say. We do realise that there are people throughout Bougainville who claim that the Panguna mine should benefit all of us, of course it will benefit all of us, but we must get the landowners, under the law, to agree to have the mine open."