19 Mar 2013

Bougainville mine reopening would get support before referendum, says landowner

7:55 pm on 19 March 2013

A landowner in the Panguna region of Papua New Guinea's Bougainville says he thinks the majority would back the Panguna mine re-opening ahead of the referendum on independence.

Martin Miriori was speaking after a Me'ekamui militant group leader, Chris Uma, opposed any discussion on re-opening of Panguna until independence is gained through the vote scheduled from 2015.

Mr Uma says only after independence is achieved can there be talk about opening the mine.

Mr Miriori says the majority would support it opening earlier but the government needs to allocate resources to ensure they are well informed.

"To carry out full awareness throughout Bougainville so that after that awareness, explaining to them the advantages and disadvantages, the good side and the bad side, [and] at the end of the day Bougainvilleans are given the right to decide - plebiscite, and I think Bougainville constitution allows for that. And my feeling is that the majority of people will support the re-opening of the mine."