Community Consent

The Panguna Mine

Jubilee Australia's Resource Centre

The case of Bougainville and the Panguna mine is arguably the most heinous example of criminal behaviour by an Australian company overseas in our recent history. As the Autonomous Bougainville Government plans to reopen the island up to mining, Jubilee has done a number of investigations into the issue over the past few years.

From 1972 to 1989, the company Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), a subsidiary of Australian-British mining giant Rio Tinto, operated the lucrative Panguna copper and gold mine. The Panguna mine had adverse impacts on the communities in Bougainville, causing locals to peacefully protest. After years of protesting without being heard, the protesters started sabotaging the mine. 

Consequently, the PNG government to stage a military-led counterinsurgency funded, facilitated and encouraged by both the company and the Australian government. This resulted in the Bougainville Civil War, an armed conflict where ten per cent of the island’s population died, the majority of which were civilians.

In recent years, there have been multiple attempts of trying to reopen the Panguna Mine by the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG). The ABG has justified this by claiming that most communities who lived around the mine wanted it to reopen, and that is the only viable development strategy for Bougainville.

What is Jubilee doing?

In 2013/14 Jubilee and partners conducted research with communities in the Panguna region; we discovered strong community sentiment against reopening the mine. Se here for the full report: Voices of Bougainville: Nikana Kangsi, Nikana Dong (Our Land, Our Future).

In 2015 the ABG passed a new mining act. Subsequent research conducted by Jubilee that year found that the act removes many rights from landowners in Bougainville. Read the full report here: The Devil in the Detail: Analysis of the Bougainville Mining Act 2015.

In 2018, Jubilee published a report examining the choice facing the people of Bougainville and asks the question of ‘to mine or not to mine’? 'Growing Bougainville's Future' found that alter­natives to large-scale mining do exist and that many Bougainvilleans are already participating in, and developing these alternatives.