Bougainville updates

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Bougainville updates

PNG military retreat

Radio Free Bougainville reported on August 19 that the Papua New Guinea military operation "High Speed" to recapture the Panguna mine, having hit the brakes, is now in reverse. The report claims that the Bougainville Revolutionary Army damaged a helicopter of the National Emergency Service bearing an Australian flag in heavy fighting. It is alleged that the pilot injured in the shooting is New Zealander Dennis Killip, and that he is now recovering in a Cairns hospital.

Three PNG soldiers were killed in fierce fighting in the Panguna area on August 24.

UN calls on PNG to negotiate

The Sub-commission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities of the UN Human Rights Commission, meeting in Geneva in August 19, passed by consensus a resolution calling on the government of Papua New Guinea to return to the negotiating table and to immediately allow medical supplies into the areas of Bougainville presently under PNG military blockade. It urges PNG to cooperate with the special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions and the special rapporteur on torture to enable them to investigate the reports of human rights violations on Bougainville.

The resolution also endorses the decision of the Human Rights Commission to request the secretary-general of the UN to consider the appropriateness of appointing a special representative concerning the human rights situation on Bougainville.

Copper company wary of future

In its half yearly report Bougainville Copper Limited noted that while the directors intend resuming and continuing operations at Panguna, this was subject to economic viability, political stability and a consensus in favour of mining by Bougainvilleans. These conditions will be difficult to achieve in the short term, the directors concede.

Barclays de Zoete Wedd Australia, in its research update of August 17, reacting to Wingti's premature claims of reoccupation of the mine site, noted that restarting the mine "will be no easy exercise, as the remaining orebody is low grade and the start-up capital will be considerable — the economics appear marginal".

Further, again basing its analysis on Wingti's false assertions, Barclays assumes that "a feasibility study commences in 1995, with limited production commencing in 1997 phasing up to pre-shutdown production levels by 1999".