26 Jun 2013

Bougainville chief claims support for Panguna re-opening

3:06 pm on 26 June 2013

A representative of land owners around the Panguna mine in Papua New Guinea's Bougainville says there is strong support for the re-opening of the controversial mine.

An executive of the Panguna Landowners Association, Chief Michael Pariu, was speaking after the latest government organised forum to canvas the people's views on the mine re-opening.

He says groups from the districts of Wakunai, Kieta and Panguna, including former combatants, have agreed that a re-opening is necessary to lift the Bougainville economy.

"We are financially handicapped to run the affairs of Bougainville, the affairs of community service and also the affairs of affected landowners. So, a reason - clear and loud - voted for everywhere in Bougainville that we are in Bougainville in desperate need of finance. So that is why a re-opening of Panguna mine is what everyone is expecting now."

Chief Michael Pariu.

He says issues of 'bel kol' or compensation, and reconciliation and rehabilitation will still need to be finalised beforehand by the company, Bougainville Copper Limited, and the Papua New Guinea and Australian governments.

One last forum is to held in Panguna next week.