BOUGAINVILLE Copper Limited (BCL) announced on the 8th of April 2013 that it is ready to re-open the Panguna mine in Bougainville at its annual general meeting (AGM).
The company has estimated that it will cost about K11 million to start-up the mine and it will take about six years to start production.
When the mine had been closed down in May 1989 we seen notices around Panguna and Arawa, [“Mine closed until further notice from the jungle”] so last week as the news comes up Mekamui news sent a text message to Meekamui Government, who is also in charge of the Morgen check point, if they have given the green light to BCL to reopen the mine? Blaise Iruinu a Meekamui Government Officer replied a couple of hours later saying in PNG pidgin” NOGAT TRU EM BAI STAP OLSEM”. [“No, it will remain closed”.]
BCL is trying everything possible to reopen the mine and at any cost, including the major announcement on the 8th of April, and one of great interest to people interested in communications, was that BCL will fund infrastructure improvements to expand radio broadcasting capabilities in Bougainville.
The project will be undertaken with the Autonomous Bougainville Government, who will co-fund it.
Peter Taylor said that the expanded service will carry multiple programs to parts of Bougainville which currently receive few or no radio broadcasting services.
“We believe this initiative will greatly improve the flow of information and facilitate dialogue,” Mr Taylor said. He pointed out that BCL will fund only the infrastructure and have no influence over the management of the service.
“It is not a BCL radio network, but rather a public facility accessed by local broadcasters and the ABG,” he said. This is an important caveat, as BCL wants no say in the content of information.
Currently, radio broadcasts are barely accessible outside Buka, and reach only 10% of the province. The people of Bougainville are ill-served by broadcast communications.
With this set up they will have someone in their pay roll to broadcast what it will be like when BCL returns, the developments, benefits in words only etc for the grassroots in the rural areas to believe BCL’s lies however, the rural people had enough of BCL that’s why in 1989 it had been kicked out from the Island for his dirty role destroying environment, polluting rivers and sea.
When that happens they will say that only a minority is saying no to the reopening of the mine, than arm police and send them [in this case it will be Bougainvilleans] to remove the checkpoint at Morgen junction; bloodshed might follow, which we want to avoid at all cost.
In the early 1960s when the Company first came in, there had been a big NO to mining till some top clan leaders got some money and because of respect to the leaders by the people they calmed down which later blew out during the late 1988 uprising.
Even today if you go up to the Panguna mine area and talk with the people from the villages, who are the ones which will suffer most when the mine reopens, they will tell you, we don’t want mining It’s the leaders talk. Unfortunately, the 1960s ways will not work out these days, when from one man’s greed for money all the land for food became gravel. Clan leaders will be targeted by their people and its very, very risky these days.
To avoid any further bloodshed on the Island, leaders like President John Momis and other pro mining leaders on Bougainville should look for other alternatives rather than mining.