30 May 2014

Bougainville's Me'ekamui re-states opposition to mining

4:51 am on 30 May 2014

The head of the Bougainville separatist group, the Me'ekamui, says he is against a resumption of mining before a vote on independence.

The leadership in the autonomous PNG province has been promoting a return to mining as the filip its economy needs.

Don Wiseman has more:

"President John Momis says the re-opening of the huge Panguna mine would bring immediate economic benefits that could not be achieved so quickly in other sectors. He says this is vital to show the province is economically viable ahead of the vote on possible independence, which can occur from 2015 onwards. Philip Miriori, who is styled as the president of the Me'ekamui Government of Unity, says the Me'ekamui position is clear. They are not opposed to mining and are happy for the people to decide but this cannot happen until after independence is achieved. Mr Miriori says this would ensure royalties stay in the province. He has also reiterated a call for Rio Tinto to pay compensation to the landowners of ten billion kina, or about two and a half billion US dollars, for damage caused by the mine. And he says the Me'ekamui will not allow access to their areas for government reconciliation efforts. He says President Momis needs to leave the sore to be healed. "