“The Bougainville Copper mine at Panguna is still a very sensitive issue for my people,” Joanne Dateransi told Rio Tinto directors at the Annual General Meeting in Melbourne today.[Ms Dateransi is the President of the Bougainville Indigenous Women Landowners Association.]
“We strongly oppose the reopening of the Panguna Mine:, said Ms Dateransi. Women are the landowners on Bougainville and we make the decisions as to how the land will be used.”
“The Bougainville copper and gold mine caused massive enviromental destruction to our land and environment. Our foods crops were damaged as a result of the mine pollution which spoiled our cash crops and food gardens.
“When the mine closed, the pollution stopped and we were able to grow healthy food again.
“If you try to start the mine again you will cause more damage and bring more misery into our lives.
“The demand of 10 billion Kina compensation for the environmental damage caused by the mine has not been paid. We demand compensation for the lives lost in the nine year war in which we suffered horribly.
” When we stopped the mine, BCL demanded the Papua New Guinea Defence Force to reopen the mine by any means necessary. Twenty thousand people died as a result. The blood of my people is on your hands. Don’t come back again. You are not welcome!! Ms Dateransi said. “If the mine comes back again there will be more bloodshed. We don’t want that.”