Bougainville News | 24 November 2016
Landowners at the Panguna Mine Tailings areas in Central Bougainville have called on the Autonomous Bougainville Government to immediately close down the “illegal” Gold Dredging operation by a Chinese company operating on their land without proper authorization by the appropriate authorities of the government.
The call by the landowners is drawing support from the Southern and Northern Regions of Bougainville.
Community leaders , Clarence Pokona, and Chris Siriosi from Central and Northern Regions of Bougainville respectively have expressed concern that requests by landowners and the wider Bougainville community to ABG leadership for an explanation on how the investment was approved without proper technical evaluation from relevant agencies who had the expertise, continues to be ignored by the ABG leadership.
“This company is operating without proper authorization in contravention of the appropriate investment and mining laws, said Mr Siriosi.
“It appears as if they were deliberately allowed into the tailings area of the Panguna Mine under the guise of producing bricks to undertake an alluvial gold mining operation… This is totally unacceptable
Mr Pokona said that according to Landowners from the area, Joe Sipu and Dominic Sipu, the company involved in the dredging operation was 95 percent foreign-owned with 5 percent share-holding apportioned to certain landowners and ABG.
“The company Jaba Joint Development Limited was allowed into the area by the ABG Commerce Minister, Fidelis Semoso [Semoso has a history of corrupt behaviour] under the pretext of making bricks. However the bricks they produced were of inferior quality and were found to be unsuitable for use in buildings and structures because the sand from the tailings was contaminated with material waste from the mine upstream”, Mr Pokona said.
“We were unaware that they had been processing gold until recently when the dredge was brought in.”