PANGUNA landowners have supported last week’s visit to Bougainville by Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) resident representative Paul Coleman at the invitation of Bougainville autonomous region President James Tanis.
Panguna Landowner Association (PLA) spokesman Lawrence Daveona said yesterday Mr Coleman’s visit was not only timely but long overdue.
“As the head of the government of the people of Bougainville, Mr Tanis had taken the issue of BCL head-on instead of putting it on the side burner and on behalf of the PLA executive and the people of Panguna I congratulate him,” Mr Daveona said.
He said Mr Tanis invitation of BCL’s representative to the island must be seen as the beginning that would get all the stakeholders together to try and deal with outstanding issues.
Mr Daveona said one of the major issues that were of concern to Panguna landowners was that of their outstanding compensation payment from 1989 to 1990.
He said critics such as Peter Kuaro, who opposed the visit, had no standing to speak on behalf of Panguna landowners
“Panguna landowner representatives are aware of Mr Coleman’s visit and in fact the PLA chairman Michael Pariu was in Buka to meet him.”
He said the former rebel chief Ishmael Toroama was also notified of the visit.
“It is important to note that our people must not conclude from this visit that ABG and Panguna landowners were planning to reopen the Panguna mine.”
Mr Daveona said the issue of resuming any mining activity anywhere on Bougainville was covered under ABG Constitution.
The BCL representative stayed there for two days talking with ABG and interested parties.