29 May 2013

PNG's Bougainville mining debate eludes villagers

3:18 pm on 29 May 2013

A landowner at Panguna in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville says discussions on a possible re-opening of the Panguna mine are not reaching people at the village level.

A resumption of mining is seen as critical to the economic development of the province - something that has to happen before any vote on independence, as prescribed in the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

The autonomous provincial government has been holding consultations over the last two months to gauge people's feelings about Panguna's re-opening.

But Lawrence Daveona, who grew up close to the huge open cast mine, and headed the now defunct Bougainville Landowners' Association, says their message is not reaching people at the grassroots.

"The government is doing all it can with whatever resources it has at its disposal but the message that they are trying to get across is not really reaching down to the village communities, not only in the Panguna mine lease areas but also to the rest of Bougainville. That is a major problem here."