Friday, February 15, 2008

Mining hustlers court Bougainville

In spite of the devastating decade long civil war over Panguna copper mine, Bougainville under reconstruction is again the target of global mining (and petroleum) interests courting the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) for a lucrative share. The Post-Courier has waxed lyrically over the state of Bougainville, using a custom allegory in its latest Focus page:
BOUGAINVILLE is re-emerging from the long shadows of its armed struggles and is discarding her dreadlocks to sport a new look of a young maid just entering womanhood. In doing so, she is quickly catching the attention of every eligible bachelor in the region, most of whom want her hand in a marriage of convenience attracted by the vast richness of her mineral wealth and natural resources.
But like all good girls brought up to observe the strict protocols of custom but educated in the ways of the Western civilisation, she is leaving the final decision to her uncles and aunties in the ABG house of representatives because not only is her marriage the question but who the potential groom could be and more importantly the bride price and its beneficiaries.
The stepfather who brought her up is somewhere in Waigani and he also has made it known that her future is also his business ...
... The only company that has made a tangible investment on the island is Invincible Resources, a company that not many people, even Bougainvilleans, come to know of but according to company executives, Invincible Resources’ K20 million given to Bougainville is for capacity building so that "Bougainville gets out of the mess quickly".
The PNG government is still negotiating with the ABG over powers to regulate mining, petroleum and gas resources on the island. During the last meeting in Buka, Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare and his deputy Dr Puka Temu requested that while mining, petroleum and gas powers were transferred to the ABG, mineral rights over Bougainville should remain with the PNG government. ABG President Joseph Kabui has rejected their request.

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