Last month, two Bougainville civil society  leaders (Sam Kaona and Simon Ekeda) warned against increased Australian meddling in the island’s internal affairs, principally referring to Rio Tinto.
The UK-listed company’s Australian subsidiary, CRA, was in control of the Panguna mine until the start of the 1988 “revolution” which forced the company out the following year.
Rio Tinto’s Bougainville Copper Ltd. has been making numerous attempts to return to the country over the last few years. A few days later, John Momis, president of the Autonomous Bougainville government (ABG)  responded to these claims, saying: “Minerals will no longer be owned by the State. Instead they will be owned by both customary landowners and the ABG”.
Added Momis: “Landowners will have the right to say ‘no’ to exploration and to be fully involved in all decisions on mining projects.”
It remains to be seen whether the president’s promises will translate into law – and if so how quickly.