While the Panguna mine – one of the largest operating copper-gold mines in the world until the Bougainville crisis forced its closure in 1989 – might grab the attention of many people, there is more going on in Bougainville in relation to mining in than just Panguna. As at the beginning of 2018, four exploration licences have been issued to Australian, Canadian and Filipino mining companies.
Australian company Kalia Holdings holds some of these licences and is exploring for copper and gold in the Mt Tore region in North Bougainville.
We are concerned that affected communities have not given their free, prior and informed consent for Kalia Holdings’ activities. In particular we are concerned at reports that women have been sidelined, and that the people who are making decisions supposedly on behalf of landowners do not always have customary rights to the land in question. Much of Bougainville is a matrilineal society and land entitlements pass through women to their children. Women are custodians of the land and as such must be involved in all decision-making as it relates to land and to mining.