23 Jul 2021

Landowners oppose Rio Tinto mine assessment in Bougainville

12:24 pm on 23 July 2021

The landowning group at the site of the Panguna Mine in Bougainville is opposing the plan announced this week to assess the damage caused by the mine.

On Tuesday multi-national miner, Rio Tinto, the Australian Human Rights Law Centre and 156 members of the communities downstream from the mine agreed on an assessment process.

Rio Tinto is to pay for this assessment of the ongoing environmental and social damage

But the SMLOLA landowners say Rio Tinto is not engaging with them, the worst affected group.

Panguna tailings wasteland

Panguna tailings wasteland Photo: supplied HRLC

Spokesperson Philip Miriori says the SMLOLA landowners had their land completely destroyed and villages and communities forcibly removed, and Rio Tinto should be talking with them.

He said "we are all for a solution to this long standing issue of mistreatment and destruction of our lands, human rights issues, and are please Rio Tinto is finally stepping up to own its part in history, but how do they expect to settle this matter without properly engaging with those most affected in an independent process."

Miriori also said it cannot be an independent report because Rio Tinto will control the whole process.

While Rio Tinto has agreed to fund the assessment it has made no commitment to fund any actions that might result from that.