10 Sep 2015

Bougainville landowners back Bel Kol reconciliation

7:23 pm on 10 September 2015

A landowning group in Bougainville's Panguna region say the Bel Kol reconciliation process is the only way forward for the region.

Bougainville's Panguna copper mine

Bougainville's Panguna copper mine Photo: Supplied

The Bel Kol has been initiated by the government in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region as it endeavours to re-start mining at Panguna, which was as the heart of its civil war.

The Panguna Mine Affected Land Owners Association says it is ready to lead the process, but it wants to make clear their focus is on the destruction of their land and the environmental damage, before talking about re-opening the mine.

It says the ABG should transfer the management of the Bel Kol process to the Panguna landowners because that is where the conflict started.

This comes as the acting Bougainville president Patrick Nisira says the ABG may stop focussing on Panguna after opposition from another group calling itself the Central Bougainville Hardliners.

The hardliners say they are completely opposed to the Bel Kol.

But the Panguna landowners say the hardliners are not landowners, just trouble makers.