16 Feb 2009

Invincible Resources not a priority for new Bougainville leader

2:29 pm on 16 February 2009

Bougainville's newly elected President James Tanis has distanced himself from a controversial and divisive mining deal struck by his predecessor, the late Joseph Kabui.

Mr Tanis says he doesn't see Invincible Resources fitting into his current plans for the province.

Last year Invincible gained 70 per cent of Bougainville's lucrative mining rights through a deal approved by parliament and spearheaded by Mr Kabui early last year.

But the move was unpopular with some in Bougainville, with one MP saying the deal could spark another civil war/

Mr Tanis says he is focusing on reconciling aggrieved parties in the Panguna area, central Bougainville region, where the Bougainville Copper Limited mine was shut down by separatists in 1989, sparking a decade-long civil war.

He says the Invincible issue has already been endorsed by the Parliament so it is a policy of Bougainville but in the meantime he wants to concentrate on other issues at this point.