There is an alternative development path for Bougainville
The Panguna mine – which was once one of the largest copper mines in the world until the Bougainville civil war forced its closure in 1989 - remains at the forefront of debates about Bougainville’s economic future. Many, including the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), have argued that Bougainville needs mining for the sake of development, and that the Panguna mine is particularly important to do so.
This belief in large-scale mining as the only feasible development option has led to a scenario in which there has been an insufficient analysis of potential alternative economic strategies. Jubilee Australia aims to redress this imbalance.
Growing Bougainville’s Future, therefore, challenges the notion that Bougainville has to re-open the Panguna mine and pursue an extractive led development path to become financially self-sufficient. It examines the possibility for an alternative and sustainable development path and draws the conclusion that alternatives to large-scale mining do exist and that many Bougainvilleans are already participating in and developing these alternatives.
Furthermore, Jubilee Australia conclude that:
- Land is of central importance to Bougainvilleans, and along with Bougainvillean’s history, knowledge, social institutions, cultural assets and traditional economy, can provide a vital foundation on which Bougainville’s future can be built.
- Land supports a way of life that most rural Bougainvilleans are already living. Land allows people to operate within a mixed economy that blends the non-cash contributions of the traditional economy with cash earned from small-scale income generating activities.
- Agriculture is the single most important source of livelihoods for Bougainvilleans, and an economy based on agriculture has the potential to benefit all Bougainvilleans – both women and men – and not just a small minority
- The Panguna mine is unlikely to be a significant source of government revenues, at least in the short to medium term.
- An over-reliance on the mining oil and gas sector is likely to distort Bougainville’s economy making it harder for non-resource sector exports – particularly in agriculture – to bring in revenues, as is the case in Papua New Guinea.
You can read the report here.
Watch the short film
The report is being published along with a short film, Bougainville: Long Han Blong Yumi (Bougainville: It's In Our Hands), which explores many of the same issues as the report. You can watch the film here.
What can you do?
Read the report, watch the short movie and share it with friends, family, and colleagues. That way we can we can fight the common misconception that Bougainville needs the re-open the Panguna mine in order to build their economy and future.