Bougainville Copper (BCL) operated the Panguna mine at Bougainville between 1972 and 1989. The mine was closed as a result of industrial sabotage by local landowners arguing that the mine polluted the environment and waterways, harmed culture, custom and kinship, killed wildlife, damaged crops, caused illnesses and significant inequalities. The group demanded compensation and the mine closure. The PNG government responded using military force and a blockade, prompting a decade long war leading to 10,000 to 20,000 dying.
ACCR has partnered with Jubilee to move two resolutions at AGM of Bougainville Copper on May 6 2014 which call on BCL, in the interests of a successful reopening, to join a number of ‘good corporate citizenship’ initiatives, remediate environmental damage and ensure ‘free, prior and informed consent’ before restarting.
The PNG government, who owns 19% of BCL, did not vote on any resolutions and has not voted in previous years. This is disturbing as the mine was a major project and the PNG government is a major shareholder. The PNG government has a responsibility to express its views and support positive developments for it as a shareholder and the citizens of PNG who should be the ultimate beneficiaries of any development.
The board did not express an opinion on the resolutions while the biggest shareholder, Rio Tinto (53%) voted against them. However a majority of other shareholders who voted, voted in favour of the resolutions.”
The fact ordinary shareholders, many of who are Bougainvillian natives, voted for a resolution calling on BCL to appoint an independent person to investigate what happened in the past and make a public report with recommendations about the way forward shows that they appreciate that all the wounds from that time have not healed.”
They also voted for BCL to sign on to international agreements which are designed to prevent the sort of disaster that occurred on the Bougainville when the mine was operating. If BCL did this, it would show their commitment to not repeat the mistakes of the past.
Here is a Radio Australia interview about the AGM.
For more information about the situation in Bougainville see
The mine photography above come from Antony Loewenstein's blog - thank you.