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By Henzy Yakham

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, March 12) – A key Bougainville businessman has urged the people of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea and its leaders to take advantage of the current high prices in gold and copper and reconsider opening the abandoned Panguna mine.

Businessman Napi Kandaso made the call in support of comments from Bougainville Copper Ltd company secretary, Paul Coleman, who said the time was right to assess the future of the Panguna mine, but the onus was on Bougainvilleans to decide.

"Given the highs currently enjoyed by both copper and gold, Bougainville Copper Ltd is re-assessing the possibility of revitalizing the closed Panguna mine," he said, after announcing Bougainville Copper Ltd’s net profit of over PGK114 million [US$38.8 million] for last year recently.

"I urge the president of the Autonomous Bougainville Government Joseph Kabui and all Bougainvilleans to consider seriously this option for the good of all," Mr. Kandaso said.

He said revenue from cash crops was insufficient to restore and maintain vital infrastructure and basic services including telecommunication, health and education.

"Copra and cocoa plantations alone cannot sustain the government and people of Bougainville," said Mr. Kandaso, who is a former employee of Bougainville Copper Ltd.

He said the Bougainville crisis was a result of neglect and incompetence on the part of successive Papua New Guinea governments, which failed to renegotiate the Bougainville Copper Ltd agreement every seven years and this was compounded by unresolved landowner grievances and environmental issues.

March 13, 2006

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