London Calling asks: did Rio Tinto fund war on Bougainville?
Whatever Michael Somare might have done in office (or out of it) over the past 22 years, as the first prime minister of Papua New Guinea he undoubtedly displayed “fibre” in negotiating the terms of the country’s independence from Australia. Not least in 1972, when his government forced a radical revision of the agreement,  brokered five years earlier by Australia with Rio Tinto, to enable the Panguna copper-gold mine on Bougainville to proceed. Last month Sir Michael swore an affidavit accusing Rio Tinto of having financed, and virtually master-minded, the war by Papua New Guinea against Bougainville that followed an indigenous  landowers’ revolt against the mine in late 1988.
MP blames Rio Tinto for mine losses
Central Bougainville MP Jim Miringtoro has blamed Rio Tinto, the former operator of the now-closed Bougainville copper mine, for the losses. He said the company and the government of Australia were directly involved in the Bougainville crisis and used the PNG government to start a war against its own people for the benefit of the company. Miringtoro said the Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare had revealed that Rio Tinto was directly involved and responsible for the war on the island as reported on the television network SBS. He said more than 15,000 people including PNG defence force soldiers died during the crisis when it started in 1988 and which lasted 15 years.
To view the programme Bougainville: Blood and Treasure go to:
To see the transcript of the Bougainville programme go to:
See also video “Saving Our Land” at
Workshop begins in PNG for stakeholders in Bougainville’s Rio Tinto-owned Panguna mine
In Papua New Guinea, a weeklong consultative workshop for the stakeholders in Bougainville’s Panguna copper and gold mine started on 5 July in Buka. The huge mine, which sparked the civil war 22 years ago and has remained shut ever since, is at the centre of speculation about when, or if, it would re-open. The workshop involved stakeholders from the Panguna area, political leaders, ex-combatants and representatives from the church, companies, landowners, women and the council of elders.