Why redevelop Panguna’s mine now? It can be banked

Paul Flanagan | PNG Attitude | 12 January 2018

Are we sure, as Axel Sturm asserts in PNG Attitude, that “one thing is for sure: Without revenues from the Panguna mine under the leadership of BCL that is owned by the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the independence of  the island will remain a sweet dream.”

Separate to the BCL versus RTG issue there is a more fundamental assumption. Why is a mine essential for independence?

Bougainville’s agricultural prospects are reasonably strong. It has some of the best agriculture land in Papua New Guinea.

Its cocoa and copra plantations were extremely productive prior to ‘the troubles’. Tourist potential would appear significant if law and order issues are contained. Its waters would link into fishing revenues under the Nauru Agreement.

Bougainville’s estimated population of around 300,000 is larger than many other Pacific island nations – about half Solomon Islands, slightly larger than Vanuatu, New Caledonia and French Polynesia, and significantly larger than Samoa.

These countries get by with a form of independence without a mine.

Experience also is that mining can lead to ‘resource curse’ issues that may manifest greatly in Bougainville as Panguna could represent a major share of measured GDP.

I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a mine, just asking why it is “essential”?

This is an assumption that needs to be examined closely. Using the figures quoted by Mr Sturm, even if 320 of 367 customary heads are in favour of a particular course of development, that still leaves 47 with issues. And the issues may not come only from the customary heads.

The Panguna mine riches are not going to disappear. Is it better that they are left in the ground for another generation until there is an absolutely unambiguous consensus that they should be developed?

This would simply be banking the resource at this stage.

And it may allow the people of Bougainville to consider more inclusive forms of development and governance as it considers the June 2019 referendum on its political future.


Filed under Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

2 responses to “Why redevelop Panguna’s mine now? It can be banked

  1. The only persons continually pushing for the re-opening of the Panguna mine are the greedy European BCL shareholders and their greedy President Axel Sturm. This man, Axel Sturm is like Donald Trump. He is rich and doesn’t give any respect for the poor or the land owners of Bougainville. Only the greed of Axel Sturm counts. Just like Donald Trump, he attacks the media. Axel Sturm cannot tolerate that the media have told the true story in that Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) are NOT welcome back on Bougainville. Axel Sturm is the devil and refuses to hear the cries of the Bougainville people which is “NO BCL, No mining”.

  2. Constance

    Paul as there will be. A shortage. Of chocolate in the future y not suggest that the boganvillins Go back to growing Cacao As they did 50 years ago back to peace as I knew as I was Saden with all that has. Happened I used to think it was paradise. , but I felt bad as i Was part construction of the mine and it has created. Phillip miori sister Cecilia was my best. Friend Constance Lucietto

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