Citizens of Bougainville, involved in the horrendous military conflict waged on the island for a decade, have been expressing views about the prospective re-opening of the Panguna mine. In early February 2013, Rio Tinto – the company operating the mine until its forced closurein 1989 – once again indicated it might be favourable to reviving the project. Chris Uma, former leader of one militant group, has declared that “re-opening Panguna is non-negotiable until…[Bougainville] independence is gained”.
But another landowner, Martin Miriori, believes the majority of Bougainvilleans would “support it opening earlier”, so long as the government “allocate[s] resources to ensure they are well informed”.
Meanwhile, researcher Dr Kristian Laslett has re-iterated claims, based on evidence from former senior managers of the mine, that Rio Tinto provided material assistance to Papua New Guinean forces in order to put down the “revolution”.