Compensation first, then Panguna mine talks

National, Normal

The National – Tuesday, June 28, 2011

PANGUNA landowners in Bougainville are demanding compensation before any talks are held to review the Bougainville Copper Agreement.
Panguna Landowners Association chairman Chris Damana was responding to a report on SBS Dateline programme which claimed the PNG government was acting under instructions from mining giant Rio Tinto when it killed thousands who wanted to shut down Panguna mine in the 1980s.
Damana said: “It is a pity that SBS has seen fit to report our Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare’s statement at this time when our Prime Minister is critically sick in Singapore.
 “The Panguna landowners have always believed that Rio Tinto/BCL and the Australian government connived with the PNG government at that time to pursue this onslaught of causing death and untold suffering and sorrow to our people.
“Our people of Panguna mine leases and the rest of Bougainville will have to be compensated before there is any talk on the review of the Bougainville Copper Agreement.”
Damana said the landowners were committed to the re-opening of the Panguna mine by BCL “but must be compensated first”.
“A compensation package outside of what our landowners are owed on the 1990 compensations must be negotiated between the Panguna landowners and Bougainville government to address this,’’ he said.
“Panguna landowners’ stand on the BCA review is not a review but a new Bougainville Copper Agreement based on the belief that as the landowners of Panguna Mine we will share what we have been blessed by God with to have on our land for the benefit of all the people of Bougainville.”
Damana said the resources on Bougainville “are for the common good”.
 “On this same note we want to assure other Bougainvilleans, especially the ex-combatants that you are not forgotten,” he said.
He said Bougainville was on the move.
“Despite what is happening in South Bougainville we are progressing. We must have a positive outlook.
“Here we must give credit to where it is due and this means our former presidents, late Joseph Kabui and James Tanis must be congratulated for their part in bringing us to where we are today.
“We fully support our President John Momis and Minister Fidelis Semoso for their move to reopen the mine,” Damana said.