9 Aug 2006

Bougainville government hopes US court case won't hurt ties with BCL

1:36 pm on 9 August 2006

The Autonomous Bougainville Government in Papua New Guinea says it hopes the reinstated suit against the mining multi national, Rio Tinto, does not affect its discussions with Bougainville Copper Ltd over a possible resumption of mining.

BCL is majority owned by Rio Tinto and the destructive impact of its mine in central Bougainville was the catalyst for the province's ten years of civil war.

The case, filed in 2000 by a Bougainvillean group, had been rejected by the US District Court in San Francisco, but the Court of Appeals has directed that it be heard.

The Vice President of Bougainville, Joseph Watawi, says the government is happy for the suit to go ahead but hopes it won't disrupt negotiations planned with BCL.

"Dealing with whatever arrangements can be put in place if we have to talk about re-opening the Bougainville Copper mine. So as long as the case goes ahead, the Autonomous Bougainville Government position is that it should not have any impact in the process of negotiations with Bougainville Copper."