World first mining laws for Bougainville

Papua New Guinea's copper-rich island of Bougainville is aiming to introduce world first mining laws that would see traditional landowners share mineral rights with the government.

ABC News reports the laws will strengthen the power of traditional owners, and give them the right to make political decisions about how development goes ahead.

President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, John Momis, said under the new system approvals and dispute resolution would be conducted at an all-inclusive landowner forum.

“The underlying philosophy for our new mining act is empowering people,” he said.

Mining regulation has long been a sore point for Bouganville, with Rio Tinto's Panguna mine playing a pivotal role in a ten-year civil war in the region throughout the 1990s.

Last year PNG president Michael Somare blamed Rio and its subsidiary Bouganville Copper for causing the war, but the company has defended its actions.

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