Panguna like project vital for Bougainville prosperity, says govt

2:01 pm on 20 June 2017
Arawa, Bougainville

Arawa, Bougainville Photo: RNZI

The autonomous Bougainville Government [the ABG] says it remains determined to foster a major mining project ahead of a vote on possible independence from Papua New Guinea in 2019.

Last week, an attempt by the ABG to sign a memorandum of agreement with landowners around the Panguna mine was abandoned after a protest and road block by groups who are opposed to the mine opening before the independence vote.

The Bougainville Vice President, Raymond Masono, said they hope to resolve the issues these group have very soon because the government was determined to proceed with its policy.

"It believes that without a large economic project on which sectors just mentioned [tourism, farming] can piggyback, you can talk about political independence but without a sound economic foundation for a future prosperous Bougainville, what is there to vote for in the referendum? "

Those protesting are also against any return by Bougainville Copper Ltd, which used to run the mine, but that company is now under the control of the Bougainville and PNG governments, and local landowners, after the multi national, Rio Tinto, walked away from any involvement.