MINING DEAL RAISES CONCERN IN BOUGAINVILLE

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Canadian company secures 70 percent rights

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, June 1, 2008) – Opposition is mounting to a deal giving a Canadian company majority control of Bougainville’s mineral rights.

Papua New Guinea’s Autonomous Bougainville Government has granted Invincible Resources 70 per cent access rights to the island’s vast mineral wealth.

[PIR editor’s note: The National reported last month that Bougainville President Joseph Kabui admitted to receiving an US$8,000 donation from the Vancouver-based Invincible Resources during his 2005 election campaign.]

Bougainville President Joseph Kabui said the deal could be reviewed once the island is re-established financially and profiting from mining and other resource deals.

He told reporters last month that he does not think they are running into a collision.

But while Mr Kabui says the Invincible deal will heal scars from the country’s secessionist war that saw thousands killed, critics say it will re-open those wounds.

The deputy speaker, the opposition, the Business Association, and landowners in Bougainville along with the PNG government are among those voicing such fears.

The AAP news agency says the groups also claim public opinion in Bougainville has swung against Mr Kabui’s decision making.

Mr Kabui last week sacked his economic and investment adviser and the outspoken minister for women Magdalene Toroansi, one of two government ministers against the Invincible deal.

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