There are reports from central Bougainville of a confrontation earlier this week between landowners and a Philippines mining company.
SR Metals is undertaking exploratory work in the Papua New Guinea autonomous region for the Kokoda mining development, a short distance from the shutdown Panguna mine.
A chief at nearby Koianu, which is also in the sights of the company, Cletus Miarama, said SR Metals does not have free and informed consent to proceed.
"According to the Mining Law any such development that takes place in the land they must first of all identify the real landowners before these explorers can go into the land. They are going into our customary land without our permission. And they are even also going into our sacred sites."
Cletus Miarama said SR's presence was sparking divisions in communities with promises of wealth for some but not others.
He said it was destructive, coming as the region is preparing for the vote on possible independence from PNG in June of next year.