bougainville copper mine conflict

But the BRA were not at all prepared for their new role of maintaining law and order in the new de facto state. The decision on Bougainville’s independence would also need to be ratified by the PNG Parliament. More were to follow. English. Instead, Spicer's attempts to wrest control of Bougainville from its own people and its destiny was to spell the political ruin of Julius Chan and with that, the end of efforts to resolve the crisis militarily; the beginnings of real negotiations for peace, nine years after Francis Ona first threw down the gauntlet. PNG Prime Minister James Marape has offered economic control but stopped well short of committing to independence for Bougainville. According to their account, the young university student was struck repeatedly with wood and rifle butts by soldiers of the PNGDF. Eight years to the day after the first of CRA's geologist had walked in, production at the Panguna mine commenced. More noble intents led the Catholics, in 1902, to Bougainville but the advent of the Missionaries of the Catholic Society of Mary, or Marists as they were commonly known, had their own impact on Bougainvilleans' traditional ways. It is unlikely that PNG will happily part with the mineral-rich island, but another war would probably break out on Bougainville Island if it were to refuse to do so, and various sanctions would also probably be imposed on PNG by Australia and New Zealand, which were involved in the many agreements signed which together formed the Bougainville Peace Agreement, and these countries are therefore also guarantors of compliance with the agreements. Neither could the miners foresee what lay ahead. The occupation of the island by the PNGDF had begun and the Bougainville Revolutionary Army had been born unleashing a wave, not only of politically motivated violence, but a ragtag criminal element of their precursors, the 'Rambos' who used the crisis to commit atrocities in its name. The blockade, which was enforced by Australian-donated patrol boats, largely succeeded. By 1971 more than 1000 construction workers had come to the island. In 1967, the Australian colonial administration – despite its role as a UN trustee of the territory – struck a deal with the Australian mining company: the Bougainville Copper Agreement. The mine had brought thousands of non-Bougainvilleans to the island. The Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed as a result in 2001, under which the North Solomon Islands became part of the Bougainville Autonomous Region, which gained its own autonomous government and received the right to hold an independence referendum. The Panguna mine on Bougainville Island, one of the world’s largest copper deposits, began production in 1972, shortly before the RNS declared independence, and the new state knew how to provide for itself. It was a time of terror, of wild unrestrained violence by a security force that had been sent to do an impossible job. Until then the island's inhabitants had lived in small tribes, organised into households based on extended families, and their loyalties lay within these small groups. As part of this strategy, China is doing everything it can to increase the influence it has in the region’s small and underdeveloped states, primarily through economic cooperation. The conflict was sparked by an Australian-run gold and copper mine, then the world’s largest. The giant copper mine struck at the heart of this matriarchal structure. Australia now has the opportunity to start developing relations with Bougainville “from scratch”, and negotiate mining on the island under more reasonable terms for Bougainville. By the time Sandline's front man, Tim Spicer, first saw the Panguna mine in early 1997, it was overgrown with almost a decade of disuse. Facing a Vietnam-like situation, the PNGDF not only failed in their stated task, but they demonstrated an alarming lack of discipline, training, planning and leadership. Bougainville’s independence is a good opportunity for Australia and its joint mining corporation with the UK, Anglo-Australian multinational Rio Tinto, to regain access to the island’s resources and develop them again. The United States was also quick to recognize the results. The following year the first call for a referendum, including the option of secession, was made by a group of Bougainvilleans students who, meeting in Port Moresby, formed the Mungkas Association. First there was a series of arson attacks, explosives were stolen from the mine and then, to the dismay of the miners and the surprise of everyone, the massive power pylons supporting the feeder lines along the mine-access road began to fall, their supports expertly blown away by one of the first of Ona's recruits; a bright, young, Australian-trained lieutenant from the Papua New Guinea Defence Force, Sam Kauona had joined the 'holy war'. In 1989 in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, a copper mine co-owned by an Australian mining company and the PNG government became the focus of conflict. They are destroying people's property, shooting cars, destroying their food gardens. PNG independence followed. At the time the Catholic Archbishop of Bougainville, Gregory Singkai spoke out against the atrocities and the behaviour of the PNGDF: 'They are really unruly and undisciplined. The mine was once the world's largest open pit copper gold mine generating over 40% of PNG's GDP. But overall, Chan's faith in the Bougainvillean leadership's willingness to negotiate was never quite restored, nor did he ever really trust Miriung, who was not afraid to speak out against the atrocities still being committed by the PNGDF – like the summary execution of eight young men at the Pokarai care centre in the north-west of Bougainville in June 1996. Louis De Bougainville never actually set foot on the island that would eventually bear his moniker. The peace agreement signed in 2001 in Bougainville, an autonomous region of Papua New Guinea (PNG), ended the most violent conflict in the South Pacific since World War Two. Only the water border with Solomon Islands remained open. Bougainvilleans, whether resentful of a clansman's prominence or coveting another's land, whether wishing to avenge the death of an antecedent or the despoiling of a female relative leapt into the lawless vacuum of civil strife, maiming and killing their own. In their long socks, white shirts and uncomfortably tight shorts , the men of CRA had come, if not by stealth, then without permission. By far the majority of the mine's workers were 'red-skins' from the island of New Guinea; their presence and their difference – physically from the black Bougainvilleans and culturally – only serving to enhance the sense that the mine and all that came with it had been imposed upon the people of Bougainville. It chose the latter. But first came a brutal blockade of the island. This Accord examines the creative initiatives that helped to end the violence, and describes an indigenous peace process that drew on the strengths of Melanesian traditions. Economically, the most obvious income stream for the resource-rich area is mining, but that would involve revisiting the issues that started the bloody conflict in … Although publicly he persisted with peace talks, at the end of the year, Chan appointed a new commander to the PNGDF, the young colonel who had led Wingti's ill-fated 'High Speed' the year before. In 1997, negotiations mediated by New Zealand began between the PNG government and secessionist leaders. The conflict spread throughout the island and lasted a decade. The Bougainville Conflict. Privacy Policy It had been a long time coming. Horizons of the Growing British-Turkish Alliance, Sino-Vietnamese Relations and the Mission of Russia, American Advances, Indian and Chinese Money Force Sri Lanka into Difficult Choice, On the Ministerial Meeting for Participants in the “Quad”, On the Trade and Military Agreement between Iran and China, The Latest 2+2 Australia-US Ministerial Consultations (AUSMIN). Their belief in the intrinsic good of every man and their American concept of land ownership – so much closer to that of the Bougainvilleans – empowered people to question, and ultimately resist much of the administration's clumsy attempts to 'civilise' them. The Bougainville Copper Project in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea ran from 1966 to 1973 and cost some US$350 million. They also brought education and new ideas, different from the colonial powers. Apart from that, many labor migrants were brought to the island to work on the copper field, mostly Papua New Guineans who were not welcomed by the Bougainvilleans, as they perceived them as a threat. Killed in August 1989, in front of his parents, at least there was witness to his death. A claim was pegged out before the owners of the land could even know what this meant. The copper mining on Bougainville Island was carried out by Bougainville Copper Limited of PNG, a subsidiary of the Australian-British Rio Tinto Group. Technology was changing; an open-cut mine of the scale which was being planned for Bougainville had never been tried before. The administration was forced to negotiate with the villagers over the price of the land at least. We draw on our shared experiences to influence policies and improve peacebuilding practice worldwide. In a way Peter Tarupiu was one of the lucky ones. A schoolboy at Rigo High School, Francis Ona, watched as the first shipment of copper was loaded at the wharf. Most of the profits drifted abroad, or were funnelled to the PNG state. Bougainville Explained: How the world’s newest country might bloom out of protests against a copper mine The conflict in Bougainville and the desire of Bougainvillean people for independence is rooted in the historic plunder of the resource-rich island that has large deposits of copper and the unequal distribution of wealth that followed. There was never good synergy between Australia and its colonial charges on Bougainville, but the American priests were living proof of an alternative authority to the rough-shod Australian administration. The conflict showed no signs of ending, and in January 1990, Bougainville Copper announced the mothballing of the Panguna mine. As the months passed, thousands fled into the bush. A year later, when land at Arawa was being purchased for the site of the mining town, the women whose land it was lay down in front of bulldozers and grappled with police in riot gear. Australia will most likely have to make Bougainville a seriously attractive offer, given the current situation in the region. As the violence spread, in Port Moresby and Canberra the race was on to vilify Ona, first as a disgruntled former employee, then as a 'hysterical extremist' and finally as 'mad' or even dead. The separatist fighters once again declared the North Solomon Islands an independent state, and halted operations at the copper mine pending its nationalization. The 10 year conflict was brutal and resulted in over 20,000 dead. Explore ways to support our work and help make peace possible. And although there may not be many “hot” spots in Oceania, there are places where temperatures are far higher than the regional “average”. The company has only paid the parents for this. Mary-Louise O’Callaghan describes the events that led to the declaration of Bougainville’s independence and the descent into lawlessness and violence that followed, ending with frustrated peace efforts and the entry of a private military company. The 'merciless intrusion' of CRA continued unabated. At variance with the practice in much but not all of the rest of the world, each person was identified according to their membership of their mother's clan, for it was the women of Bougainville who were the custodians of the land. The island suffered much unrest triggered initially by the use of non-Indigenous labor in the Island’s largest copper mine. RNS was not afraid to set sail on its own. Mary-Louise O’Callaghan describes the events that led to the declaration of Bougainville’s independence and the descent into lawlessness and violence that followed, ending with the frustrated peace efforts of the Arawa Peace Conference and the entry of the private military company Sandline International. The Autonomous Region of Bougainville is comprised of Bougainville Island and several other nearby islands in the Solomon Islands archipelago. We have taken the move after painful struggle for the last 20 years of PNG rule. (1997). The complex thread of custom which had governed the lives of the Bougainvilleans for millennia did not really begin to unravel until the arrival of the radically different Europeans at the end of the eighteenth century, although there is evidence of a Polynesian integration into Bougainville's Melanesian populace 33,000 or so years earlier. Jerry Singirok, with the job of commander dangling before his eyes, had assured Chan, privately, that he could do what no commander before him had managed – subdue the BRA and take control of Bougainville once again. Taxes from BCL alone accounted for 16 per cent of the young nation's budget. Up to 20,000 people, or 10% of the population at the time, lost their lives. By the time Julius Chan became the third Papua New Guinean prime minister to deal with the crisis in August 1994, hundreds of lives had been lost and thousands more spoiled. Matters weren't helped three years later, in 1965, when the Australian minister for External Territories, Charles Barnes, put in an appearance on the island only to abruptly declare that the Nasioi, as the owners of the proposed mine site, could expect exactly 'nothing' for their land but would have to be content with the standard paltry compensation for lost properties such as houses and coconut palms. Refusing to accept menial work for minimal wages, they would cut only their own copra. Former employee of the company Bougainville Copper Limited and Bougainville native, Francis Ona, came to lead the resistance against the Panguna mine, and in turn the resistance for independence from Papua New Guinea. Both organisations provided considerable assistance. The United States will also want to become Bougainville’s key partner before China gets there first. Operating completely outside of the PNG constitution but with local knowledge and kinship, they were to become one of the state's most effective 'weapons'. The active fighting continued until the end of the 1990s. They accused Bougainville Copper Ltd., of being responsible for poisoning the entire length of the Jaba River, and causing birth defects, as well as the … The terror started in 1989 with helicopters loaned by the Bougainville Copper Limited to the riot police. It was April Fools Day, 1964, when the first of the company's geologists walked into Panguna Valley. In 1990, Prime Minister Rabbie Namaliu of Papua New Guinea agreed to pull Papuan troops out, and for international observers to witness the disarmament of the BRA. Burghley Yard, 106 Burghley Road, London NW5 1AL, Company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (03196482), Charity registered in England and Wales (1055436), Safeguarding, transparency and other policies, Constitutional accommodation and conflict prevention, A Bougainville Interim Government perspective on early peace efforts, From Burnham to Buin: Sowing the seeds of peace in the land of the snow-capped mountains, The role of women in promoting peace and reconciliation, Resolving two dimensions of conflict: The dynamics of consent, consensus and compromise, ‘Joint Creation’: The Bougainville Peace Agreement - and beyond, Key points of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, Aid as an instrument for peace: A civil society perspective, The role of the United Nations Observer Mission, Reflections on the Truce Monitoring Group, Making, building and sustaining peace by peaceful means, Key texts and agreements: Accord Papua New Guinea. The mine started production in 1972 under management of Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) with the Papua New Guinea government as a 20% shareholder. In June 1989 a 28-day State of Emergency was declared and the first of a decade of futile and often ill-conceived military actions – Operation Blueprint – was launched. On September 1, 1975, however, just before PNG gained independence, Bougainville and the other islands which were to later form the Autonomous Region of Bougainville declared themselves the Republic of the North Solomons (RNS), independent of both Australia and PNG. BCL, 56 per cent owned by the Australian subsidiary Conzinc Rio Tinto, Australia (CRA) itself a subsidiary of the multinational mining company, RTZ and 20 per cent by the Papua New Guinea Government, reacted with disbelief. As to landowner grievances, see John Conncll, 'Compensation and conflict: the Bougainville Copper mine in Papua New Guinea', inJohn Connell and Richard Howitt (eds), Mining and Indigenous Peoples in Australasia (Sydney 1991), 55-75. The men were fully occupied guarding the women as they worked the garden or went fishing on the coast. At one point the vast Panguna mine accounted for more than 40 percent of Papua New Guinea's exports, but it has been shuttered since 1989. Following discovery of the Bougainville copper deposit in Papua New Guinea (PNG) in 1964, Espie was appointed to manage the design, construction, financing and operation of the world’s largest copper mine. In December 2019, a referendum was held as promised. But the real trouble came in 1990 when Australia 'gifted' four ancient Iroquois to the PNGDF on condition that they would not be used in the offensive. So a campaign of sabotage against BCL and ultimately the national government was launched. The introduction of Australian and New Guinean workers caused resentment and the exploitation of the mine became increasingly intertwined with issues of indigenous identity. Network edition New Eastern Outlook 2010-2020. For Bougainvilleans, their sense of separateness – physical, cultural and emotional – from Papua New Guinea had been fuelled by their particular experience of this policy; the presence of the giant copper mine and the use of the wealth it generated to pay for the development of the young nation-state. On September 16, 1975, Papua New Guinea (PNG) gained independence from Australia and became an independent state. Panguna was an experiment that would one day become the 'biggest jewel in the RTZ crown,' but also its greatest curse. The same year, Teori Tau, a Nasioi from Pakia village, challenged the colonial administration's right to compulsorily acquire their land before Australia's High Court. When members of these Highland-hardened squads raided villages and torched houses on the mine access road and committed other human rights abuses, Bougainvilleans were not cowed. Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) is a mining company of Papua New Guinea (PNG) that is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). The extraction itself seriously damaged the island’s ecology, and the revenue generated by the mine went to Papua New Guinea, with the PNG national government receiving a 20% share of the profit from the mine. Chan's first attempt to negotiate a comprehensive solution with the secessionists at the Arawa Peace Conference in October 1994 was not a resounding success, despite agreeing to their request for the United Nations to be present and cajoling the Australians into funding a small regional peacekeeping force. Bougainville Copper Limited, Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea. After the bluster and blunder of Prime Minister Paias Wingti's term, which included the notorious 'Operation High Speed' push into Panguna, Julius Chan surprised the nation at his swearing-in by vowing to find a peaceful, lasting solution to the Bougainville conflict and flying off to Solomon Islands to meet with BRA's Sam Kauona within the week. From Port Moresby the view was of a recalcitrant province led astray by a few troublemakers and criminal elements. Many innocent people, old people, women and children are being slaughtered.'. Life before Christianity had been harsh. The interim government, announced by Ona, included the former Premier Joseph Kabui as Minister of Justice and Sam Kauona as Minister for Defence. Havini, 'The long struggle for the independence of Bougainville' (Bougainville Freedom Movement, Sydney n.d.). War broke out between Bougainville secessionist forces, primarily the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, and the PNG government. More than a century later, in 1889, an exchange of notes with the British brought Bougainville within Germany's sphere of influence. Simon Kenema, ‘An analysis of post-conflict explanations of indigenous dissent relating to the Bougainville copper mining conflict, Papua New Guinea’, Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies, Issues 1.2 and 2.1, April 2010 . The introduction of Australian and New Guinean workers caused resentment and the exploitation of the mine became increasingly intertwined with issues of indigenous identity. He also spoke of dubious environmental practices at the mine, listing hazardous chemicals used on site (but always denied by the company) and the impact of the 'economic apartheid' practiced by BCL with a 'dual wage structure' that paid considerably lower rates to local employees. Ona stated that his people fight for: 1) land and the culture, 2) land and the environment, and 3) independence (Rotheroe 2001). Significantly Ona was also angry with the older generation of landowners – including his own uncle, Matthew Kove, who had disappeared in suspicious circumstances months earlier – for what Ona claimed was the misuse and unfair distribution of the landowners' share of royalties from the mine. That is why Oceania rarely makes world news, which local populations accustomed to living a quiet life are probably fairly content with. Available in The Papua New Guinea Independence Constitution had stated land ownership was to just below the surface of the soil; this meant that all mineral rights would belong to the State. Many o… However, the young state of Papua New Guinea also had plans for Bougainville’s resources, and has sent a group of police over to the island. In July the next year, under increasing pressure from Chan, he was put to the test launching 'Operation High Speed II' before flying off to Australia leaving his men to flounder and be slaughtered as they were comprehensively defeated on Aropa beach. The island’s residents have grown accustomed to blaming PNG and Bougainville Copper Limited acting on behalf of the PNG for all the troubles they have endured over recent decades (Bougainville Copper Limited is still suing the Autonomous Bougainville Government after the cancellation of its exploration license). According to various sources, the war had a total death toll of between 15 to 25 thousand people. We are fighting to save our land from foreign exploitation.' They said no. It was this that PNG's Prime Minister, Sir Julius Chan, commissioned Spicer to bring back to life with the hiring of mercenaries to deploy against PNG's own, albeit reluctant, citizens. Claiming to speak on behalf of all Bougainvilleans affected by the huge copper mine that BCL had dug through his ancestral lands, Ona had formed the 'New Panguna Landowners Association' and delivered an ultimatum to the company: pay up 10 billion kina (A$14.7 billion (1989 value)) in compensation for the impact of the mine, or else. US strategic security also depends on who controls this region. A desire for self-determination, land disputes and environmental damage related to mining all helped fuel the conflict. Speculation about the future of the Panguna copper mine in Papua New Guinea’s autonomous region of Bougainville, which ignited a decade long civil war in the 1990s, peaked late last year when an application for exploration by former Rio Tinto subsidiary, Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL), was put to a local vote. Only much later and quite reluctantly did these loyalties widen to their broader language groups, let alone to a national identity. Strapping the helicopters with machine guns, the army had easily converted the gifts into gunships. It was the most serious conflict in the south Pacific since World War II. From 1988 to 1998 the most violent conflict in the Pacific region since the Second World War erupted on the islands of Bougainville, now an autonomous region in Papua New Guinea. Bougainville Copper’s main objective is to work cooperatively towards realising the vision of resuming active exploration and sustainable copper, gold and silver mining at Panguna, in central Bougainville, after mining ceased in 1989. Bougainville Copper Limited was just the latest in a series of outside elements which for more than two centuries had come to Bougainville's shores to toss and turn the island and its people for their own intent. They are bashing people without questioning them and putting them in jail. It was this loss – the loss of land not to just one generation but to all the generations to come and all those that had been, that the miners did not seem to comprehend. Seemingly unaware of this growing backlash, in Port Moresby the Cabinet of Prime Minster Rabbie Namaliu approved a call-out by the PNG Defence Forces (PNGDF). Terms & Conditions, +44 (0)20 7359 7728 Given the current confrontation with China, these countries are therefore likely to do everything they can to ensure that Bougainville gains its independence following the referendum and prevent a hot spot from erupting within their buffer zone. This occurred as a result of the conflict between the forces led by Francis Ona, Supreme Commander of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) and the Papua New Guinea Defence Force. Once again declared the North Solomon Islands remained open make room for mining operations were officially halted 15... 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