In recent months, there has been much discussion of the possibility of re-opening the Panguna copper mine on the Pacific island of Bougainville (Mekamui). The mine is owned by Rio Tinto subsidiary Bougainville Copper Ltd. Operation of the mine led to a war of independence against Papua New Guinea. For background, see
In this article, Clive Porabou of the Mekamui Hardliners argues against the re-opening of the mine.
Re-opening the Panguna mine is like re-opening an old wound.
In Melanesian culture and customs similar to the Mekamui/Bougainville culture and customs, anything that involved blood or shed blood is very hard to compensate with money.
In this regard, the closing down of the Panguna mine involved blood and the loss of lives of twenty thousand fighters, innocent children, men and women from the Southern tip to the Northern isles of Mekamui/Bougainville.
There is likely to be more bloodshed if anyone tries to re-open the mine.
The people that were left the negative legacy from the bitter war don’t want to see the re-opening of the mine. Re-opening of the mine should not be dictated by outsiders as they don’t care about the people and their land: their interest lies with the minerals and money. Despite all the promises being made again by the mining company, promises that they will bring development and employment, in fact the first sign of this kind of development is that they erect a fence and make the traditional landowner look like a foreigner in his own land. The employment created will mean that in the end the children will live in a land of no ‘milk and honey’.
As we always argue, is it only copper and gold that can bring in sufficient revenue to make independence possible for an Island nation? The copper and gold at Panguna is a blood mineral: all of Bougainvilleans’ blood lies there.
Let’s talk about and invest in different economic revenue like cocoa,copra, tourism, fisheries etc. Unlike copper and gold mining, these will not cause deaths. Our Island is very small and very beautiful. Let’s keep it that way for our future generations. Let us not destroy it with the craze for the copper and gold business.
For the love of Earth
Clive Porabou
Mekamui Hardliners