24 Feb 2020

Geologist killed at Bougainville mine site

4:00 pm on 24 February 2020

A Thai geologist has been shot dead in Bougainville.

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Photo: RNZ

Channon Lumpoo had been working with Filipino company, SMRI, at a new gold mine, the Post Courier reports.

He was reportedly shot with a high-calibre rifle by an unknown gunman, while installing satellite equipment at the site in the Kokoda area of central Bougainville.

It is the second killing at a Bougainville mining project in recent months, after a geologist from Papua New Guinea's Enga Province, Terry Win Kilya, was murdered near the site of the Kalia mine in the north of the main island late last year.

Bougainville's President John Momis linked that death to criminal elements in an area where tensions exist due to unresolved social problems related to mining exploration work.

The deaths come as the Bougainville government pushes for a resumption of mining at the huge and controversial Panguna mine.

The government wants mining re-started to help foster the region's economic development as it negotiates last November's referendum on independence from PNG.

In that poll, Bougainvilleans voted resoundingly for independence.