Go Pinis

Go Pinis

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rio Tinto are back in the ring

Am well behind on events here but there has been a successful appeal of the case against Rio Tinto by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. You can read more about it here, here and here.

There are three key points of note:
  1. The case is now considering whether genocide was committed during the Crisis. Qoute: "Judge Schroeder said the complaint's allegation that Rio Tinto's "worldwide modus operandi" was to treat indigenous non-Caucasians as "expendable" justified restoring the genocide claim to the case."
  2. Corporations can be held liable in U.S. courts for human rights violations committed abroad.
  3. The case was successfully appealed despite the fact that it has not yet been pursued through PNG courts, which as I understood it was a threshold issue for the Alien Tort Statute.

This is going to require a bit of digging, will post on this soon.

Further to this, another blogger is well on the ball and has plenty of coverage on the history behind the case, including a couple of cables from Wikileaks. If you are interested pop over to Trinketization.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Rio Tino return to Panguna?

Hi all,

Saw the following article in the Courier Mail the other day, more progress on the Panguna front?

Courier Mail (Brisbane)
Mine of information
UNBEKNOWN to the rest of the
world, there was a very high-level visit
to the ramshackle Panguna Mine in
Bougainville in Papua New Guinea
Outside of Escondida and Grasberg,
Panguna remains the largest copper
ore body in the Pacific region. It has
been closed since 1987 following a
landowner uprising which led to civil
war on the rich PNG island.
The mine once accounted for more
than half of PNG's GDP, the other half
being Australian aid.
Our spies report that a Rio director
was accompanied by Bougainville
Copper Ltd managing director Peter
Taylor and a senior member of
AusAid, in a two-day, low-key inspection
of the mine.
People that know about such matters
reckon it would cost a cool
$A3 billion to get the mine back to full
production but in Rio, or BHP terms,
that's small change.
Rio has managed to hold on to its
controlling 67 per cent interest in
Bougainville Copper despite several
unreported bids by Chinese interests
to garner ownership of the massive
porphyry copper/gold ore body.

Monday, August 15, 2011

More Talk, More Action?

Thought you might be interested in a recent article on Panguna Copper Mine based on interviews with Chris Uma and James Tanis. Article and interviews sourced from Radio Australia.

Rebel leader wants to talk about reopening Bougainville copper mine

August 10, 2011 17:11:51

The leader of the Original Me'ekamui rebel group on Bougainville, Chris Uma says he wants to talk with the Australian government and with mining giant Rio Tinto, about the reopening Panguna copper mine.

The mine was the spark that ignited a decade long civil war on Bougainville, a war that left thousands dead and the economy of the island on its knees.

The comments by Me'ekamui General, Chris Uma, come after he allowed a delegation of senior Australian diplomats to visit the mine site, for the first time, in more than 2 decades.

Presenter: Jemima Garrett,
Speakers: Chris Uma, leader of the Bougainville rebel group the Original Me'ekamui; James Tanis, former President of Bougainville

GARRETT: The Original Me'ekamui is the rebel group that controls access to the Panguna mine site and for decades it has been hostile to Australia and to the mine-owner, Rio Tinto because of their part in the war on Bougainville .

The decision by Me'ekamui Leader, Chris Uma, to allow Ian Kemish, the Australian High Commissioner to Papua New Guinea, access to the mine is a significant breakthrough for the peace process.

The visit began with a traditional ceremony at the Me'ekamui checkpoint at Morgan Junction on the mine access road.

High Commissioner Kemish approached on foot with a live pig and a bale of rice as a reconciliation offering. There he met and shook hands with Me'ekamui leader, Chris Uma.

On a very poor phone line from Bougainville, Chris Uma, told Radio Australia that the ceremony was an important step forward.

UMA: I understand that I can solve the problem of Bougainville and I know what the Bougainville crisis started and how it will be ended. That's why I let the Australian High Commissioner through my checkpoint, to make a statement clear to the Australian government and the world that, today, we are talking.

GARRETT: As Chris Uma says he is a crucial force in solving the Bougainville crisis.

The Me'ekamui leader says his decision to let the Australian High Commissioner visit the Panguna mine site is a message to the world that he is now talking with Australia.

Former Bougainville President, James Tanis, is also a Panguna man.

He has been working for peace for 15 years.

Mr Tanis facilitated the Australian delegations' visit and he says, as Australia was part of the problem on Bougainville, it is very important that it be part of the solution.

TANIS: The problem started in Panguna, it is the birthplace of the conflict and the visit to Panguna by the representative of the Australian government is a major step forward in terms of building relationships so that together we can move forward in resolving those issues for which we have dispute over.

GARRETT: Just what did it take to make the visit possible?

TANIS: It took a lot of negotiation, a lot of patience but it was the result of everybody's effort, meaning the Australian High Commissioner's willingness to come into Panguna and Chris Uma's acceptance, because Chris Uma is the main person who manages the Morgan Junction checkpoint. That is there to enforce this view that no outsiders would come into Panguna. So it took Chris Uma a lot of understanding, a lot of change in him, to allow the Australian High Commission to go ahead and perform cultural rituals to allow him access into Panguna

GARRETT: Between 2015 and 2020 Bougainville is to hold a referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea.

For that refendum to offer a real choice Bougainville needs economic self-reliance and for many people that means the re-opening of the Panguna copper mine.

The Me'ekamui have been at the heart of the independence movement.

Chris Uma says he is willing to talk about re-opening the mine, and even to give the go-ahead to mining, but there is a long way to go before that happens.

UMA: Me'ekamui government is looking forward to solve the problem of the Bougainville conflict, starting from that mine. Panguna mine can open under the name of Chris Uma.

GARRETT: So if you approve plans to re-open the mine, the mine can re-open?

UMA: It is not negotiated, yet. (It's a) very, very big job to talk about it and its not negotiated yet.

GARRETT: Former Bougainville President James Tanis agrees that there are many obstacles ahead.

But Mr Tanis and the Autonomous Bougainville Government are working hard to create a better future.

TANIS: The main thing is that we Bougainvilleans are continuing to talk amongst ourselves, talk with the ABG (Autonomous Government of Bougainville), talk with the national government and going as far as talking with the Australians, so that still gives me hope that peace will be sorted out.

GARRETT: And just how realistic do you think it is to eventually reopen the mine, and particularly in time for the timetable for the vote on independence?

TANIS: It is already running too late! And even if we made the mine reopening decision today I do not see the mine going into operation in the next 3 years. The next 3 years might be needed for rebuilding and not the commercial activity, so 3 years at the minimum.

GARRETT: James Tanis says it is urgent that the new PNG government start the much-delayed handover of mining powers to Bougainville and that it pay up on promised development funding.

At the moment Australia is Bougainville's biggest aid donor.

Mr Tanis says an additional special package of aid for Panguna would give the peace process a better chance.


Saturday, May 7, 2011

12 Months

It is exactly a year today since I boarded a plane and departed Bougainville. Definately feels like a personal milestone in terms of that's now in the past and I got to be focused on the here and now.

It was a hard slog for those first 8 - 10 months out but have plenty of good things going on now. Speaking of which, off to a music festival this afternoon, I think its my fifth since I left Bougie! Really appreciating all the great things on offer in Australia, most especially new friends, new beers, new cities and new music.

So here's to good times and great memories!

Much love,


Monday, April 25, 2011

Radio New Dawn

Some of you may already be aware of its existence but Radio New Dawn of Buka, Bougainville, maintains an online blog: http://www.bougainville.typepad.com/

I have found this to be a great way to keep updated on events in Lan Bilong Sunkamap.

Peacebuilding Compared


This post is well overdue but please let me introduce you to the ANU Peacebuilding Compared project and its work on reconciliation in Bougainville.

Those of you who have worked in Bougainville will be familiar with their customary approaches to conflict resolution, which were ultimately fundamental to creating peace after years of war. This story has now been captured in a thorough paper on Bougainville's peacebuilding efforts: http://www.peacebuilding.anu.edu.au/

I came across this paper following a chat with John Braithwaite, one of the architects of the project and an academic with a long history in Bougainville. John gave me some very good career advice at the time and I've long since intended to draft a post about the paper. I strongly encourage you to take a look at the website and get yourself a copy.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

BBQ with a Bougainvillean

So I was travelling to work the other day and happened to glance out of the bus window…and much to my surprise I saw the former President of Bougainville, James Tanis, standing on the side of the road.

As soon as the bus stopped I bolted out the door and caught up with him. Turns out James has been in Canberra for the past six weeks, working on his memoirs and consulting on some papers in cooperation with the Australian National University.

From left: Me, James, Saskia

We’ve since had James over for a couple of barbeques at our apartment. It has been great catching up on events but more importantly we have both enjoyed just having a beer together. Saskia also set up a talk for James and ANU academic Anthony Reagan at the Attorney-General’s Department which apparently went very well.

James heads off next week and may return next year to study a Masters in International Relations. He’s got some ideas on how to continue to help Bougainville while he is abroad, and with all of his connections I’m sure he will be able to get something going. If he does I will be sure to write a post about it.