Papua New Guinea's minister of Bougainville Affairs, William Samb, has called on the Bougainville government to forget about talking to investors in the Panguna mine until after the referendum on independence.
New Dawn FM reported Mr Samb was speaking during a Bougainville government roadshow around Bougainville that is explaining the referendum process.
His comments came after the government unveiled controversial plans to start its own company to re-open the mine, teaming up with a newly set up Australian company.
This has riled at least two other foreign investors who had been planning similar moves.
A year ago the government had declared a moratorium on opening Panguna but changed tack suddenly in January, saying it needed to open the mine to stimulate the economy ahead of the referendum vote in October.