BUKA, (PNG LOOP) – If Bougainville’s caretaker president John Momis is re-elected in next month’s elections his government will immediately begin discussions on re-opening the Panguna mine.
The huge mine was the catalyst for the civil war that engulfed the Papua New Guinea autonomous region for much of the 1990s.
Momis says a resumption of mining is the only way Bougainville can become economically viable and meet the conditions for a referendum on independence which must be held by 2020.
He says with the new Mining Law now in place guaranteeing local landowners control of their resources he is confident Bougainville can safely resume mining.
“After the election we will be taking immediate steps to talk to Rio Tinto [the parent company of Bougainville Copper Ltd, which had operated the Panguna mine]. We will find out whether they are interested. If they are not we will try another company. Look you know, we can try others, said Momis