[Papua New Guinea Mining] Bougainville imposes moratorium on Panguna mine over fears of civil unrest – by Helen Davidson (The Guardian – January 10 2018)


The Bougainville government has enacted an indefinite moratorium on renewing the licence of a controversial mining company over fears it could reignite violent civil conflict.

In December Bougainville landowner groups were called to vote on allowing Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) to renew their mining licence and potentially reopen the Panguna mine, but the vote was split.

“If we went ahead now, you could be causing a total explosion of the situation again,” the Bougainville Autonomous Government (ABG) president, John Momis, told the ABC on Monday.

The Panguna copper mine was central to the civil war and blockade in the 1990s that killed tens of thousands of people. Conflict escalated after landowners protested environmental damage by the mine and the lack of economic benefit for local people.

The Rio Tinto-owned BCL was forced to close the mine, and discussion in recent years about reopening it has sparked hostilities in the nearby communities. In June protesters blocked Momis and other political leaders from accessing Panguna to sign an agreement with landowners, which the ABC reported would have opened the way for BCL to work towards returning.

For the rest of this article: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/10/bougainville-imposes-moratorium-on-panguna-mine-over-fears-of-civil-unrest

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