26 Feb 2013

Referendum needed to re-open PNG's Panguna mine, says Bougainville landowner

1:08 pm on 26 February 2013

A landowner from the Panguna region in the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville says a referendum would be needed before the green light is given to resume mining at Panguna.

The Bougainville government is holding the second of four planned community meetings to hear the people's views on whether the huge copper and gold mine can be re-opened.

In 1988, anger over alleged environmental damage and human rights abuses at Panguna sparked a civil war and closed the mine.

A former presidential candidate and a landowner at Panguna, Martin Miriori, says before any re-opening there would need to be compensation, reconcilation and awareness building, followed by a referendum.

"So that people can just vote on whether the mine should be opened or whether it should remain closed. And with that mandate from the people then, we can go ahead and, say, talk about reviewing the Bougainville Copper agreement, or a new agreement that needs to be negotiated."