‘No Mining, No BCL!’
Romulus Masiu | Post Courier | June 4, 2017
The women of Central Bougainville and landowners of the Panguna Mine site expressed disgust towards a delegation of Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) representatives who conducted a mining forum in Panguna and Arawa last Thursday to reopen the mine with Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) as the preferred operator.
The delegation, led by Vice-President and Minister for Minerals and Energy Resources Raymond Masono, included Director of Office of Panguna Mine Negotiations Bruno Babato, Minister for Economic and Trade Development Fidelis Semoso and others.
Secretary for the Department of Minerals and Energy Resources Shedrach Himata and team were also present.
The ABG ministers made their presentations in support of reopening the Panguna Mine with BCL.
Their announcement met with stiff opposition from ex-combatants and the public, especially women in the affected Panguna mining site areas.
It also drew more opposition from the women, who were not given the opportunity to present their sentiments.
However, it was only by force that the women got centre stage.
In Panguna, Mrs Regina Eremari, a landowner who represented the grassroots women of the area, tearfully raised her sentiment that the ABG leaders were not taking into consideration the voice of women because they were the true landowners.
“We, women are custodians and landowners of the land, not the men.
“In the past, it was the men who led and spoilt our land and environment through mining, which resulted in the Bougainville Crisis,” she said.
“When BCL mined our land, we were displaced and placed in settlements and still live in these settlements today. Our gardening grounds were destroyed. Now where will they put us if they want to mine the land again?” she asked.
Also at the Arawa forum, female leader Lynette Ona questioned the ABG members which landowners they consulted to say that the Panguna landowners have agreed to open the Panguna Mine under BCL.
She said she and most women present were landowners and had never been consulted for their lands to be mined again.
“I am a landowner, and my land is right in the centre of the Panguna Mine Pit and no one has consulted me for my land to be dug up.
“And my stance is ‘No Mining, No BCL!’ BCL is not welcome to come and dig up my land again, never!” she said.