The reopening of Panguna mine is very high on the Government agenda and many technocrats because of the revenue from it that will boost the economic side of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. However, the three forums that have been held so far over the 3 Regions of the island itself have been attended by very few people who got the message and were willing and free. Otherwise the same people that travel with the ABG facilitator Raymond Masono, most of them are pro-mining people and maybe one way or the other they are getting paid or being promised payment.
The next forum, which the facilitators hope to be the biggest, has been moved to a later date. Mekamui news once again texted the Meekamui Government officers asking them what’s their latest stand and if they have given some kind of green light or would it be another company instead of the murderer of the Bougainville people during the conflict to come and reopen the mine? Their reply was in Pidgin again: “Maski kainkain forum bai kamap bai nogat mining” Though many forums are taking place there will be no mining.
The Minister for mining in the ABG Michael Oni has told the truth for him and his people in a Pacific beat programme, People have no land to plant their crops. They don’t have any land for trees for housing. They have no land to make gardens.
Also the Minister for Community Development Melchior Dare who is from some kilometers from the deep hole says, We have to walk 3-6 hours just on a bush track, which is just outside Panguna because of the terrain. And when Panguna was operating what really affected us was cyanide, cyanide that was used for the industry. It affected our plants, our fruits, our birds but now because Panguna has been closed because of the conflict, now because the level of cyanide has gone down, the fruits have now come to fruiting and our environment is slowly rehabilitating.
One will wonder why they have to facilitate all these forums if they know what Panguna brought to them during its time of operation; the truth is it’s the money that makes us take a no care attitude towards our mother earth. Even though better negotiations and a good deal struck with more landowners participating the negative effects are always higher than the benefits with the mining industry.
A landowner from the area and a main figure Mr Lawrence Daveona says: Discussions on a possible re-opening of the Panguna mine are not reaching people at the village level. This is the truth, as mentioned above in the 3 forums so far most of the people who attended were the once who can travel or have been going with the facilitator above all they are pro-mining people who make money out of it somewhere somehow. Most of the villagers don’t know what’s going on and many of them are busy with their day-to-day duties trying to make their living. They will be taken by surprise when foreigners with their Bougainville counterparts start digging the hole again.