Mining and Reconciliation: Negotiating the Future of the Panguna Mine in Bougainville

SSGM In Brief

Author/s (editor/s):

Kylie McKenna

Publication year:


Publication type:

In Brief

In 1989, the massive Panguna copper mine, which was at the centre of a decade-long conflict in Bougainville, was forced to close. Twenty-five years on, Bougainville is readying for a deferred referendum on independence — one of the central pillars of the Bougainville Peace Agreement — to be held sometime between 2015 and 2020. As the territory contemplates its political future, and how it will generate the revenue needed to support either meaningful autonomy or an independent state, the possibility of reopening the Panguna mine is prominent on the political agenda. Three of the options being considered are: 1) The mine never opens again; 2) The mine opens again under Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL); 3) The mine opens again under control of some other company. This In Brief focuses on one of these possibilities: reopening the mine under BCL. In particular, it discusses a variety of local expectations in relation to material and symbolic reparations that face BCL, operator of the closed mine, if it were to resume operations in Bougainville.

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