To brief readers on the background: Bougainville should have been part of the sovereignty of the Solomon Islands as it is in fact the most westerly island of that archipelago. But late in the 19th century Imperial Germany decided that it wanted a colonial empire overseas to rival those of Great Britain and France so it annexed northern New Guinea while Britain added the Solomons to its empire. As part of the deal to settle where the inter-colonial border was located Britain ceded Bougainville to the Germans.https://www.theepochtimes.com/incorrupt ... Db9CwveV_U
In the heart of Bougainville lies Panguna, home to one of the world’s largest copper mines.
President Ishmael Toroama knows he has a limited window to revive the mine and along with it, the hopes of the soon-to-be world’s youngest nation.
Yet precarious waters lie ahead.
Millions of dollars of investment are needed, corruption remains a constant in the fledgling democracy, and the Chinese Communist Party’s interest in the strategically important region is no secret.
Panguna mine has sat dormant for nearly two decades, after a bloody civil war erupted in 1988 forcing Rio Tinto to shut the once-massive operation which powered the economy of Papua New Guinea—just north of Australia.
So valuable was Panguna that at its peak it accounted for 12 percent of Papua New Guinea’s national GDP and nearly half its exports.
The mine is estimated to contain around one billion tonnes of copper and 12 million tonnes of gold, with a worth of around US$100 billion—rivalling some of the biggest copper mines in operation today.
Yet it’s not only Bougainville’s resources that are so valuable.
The town of Arawa just north of the mine is home to a major deep-water port built by Mitsubishi and Bechtel during the mining heyday. It was used for shipping ore overseas and could conceivably serve as a home for naval vessels.
Further, Bougainville’s location is critical. Wedged between Papua New Guinea to the west, and the Solomon Islands to the east, the island region forms a chain with fellow Pacific Islands across the north of Australia and New Zealand.
Along came World War One and Australia dispatched half a battalion of partly trained soldiers to occupy the German New Guinea capital. Come 1919 and the Versailles settlement the fledging League of Nations (predecessor to the United Nations) awarded the former German colony to Australia as a mandated territory.
Move on now to the 1960's and the Australian administration awarded the rights to mine the newly discovered orebody to the mining house Rio Tinto Limited. It seems that the Australian Minister of the day in charge of the territory did not properly consult with native landowners at the site because it was grievances over that which, a quarter of a century later, led to the civil war on the island that caused closure of the mine.
Now with China manoeuvring to gain control it seems that the buzzards are circling.