Riotinto Kills – that we knew, but here it is in detail.

SBS TV [Australia] – Dateline [show] on Sunday 26 June 2011 at 8.30pm

It’s 14 years since the war ended over what was once the world’s largest copper mine, at Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, but Dateline has uncovered claims that the PNG government was acting under instruction from mining giant Rio Tinto, when it killed thousands of people who wanted the mine shut down.

The allegations come from PNG’s former Opposition Leader, and now Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare, in 2001 court documents obtained by SBS Chief Correspondent Brian Thomson for Dateline.

In them, Somare says the company, and its subsidiary Bougainville Copper Limited, effectively used its wealth to control the government – a claim denied by BCL.

With negotiations now underway to reopen the abandoned mine, could Bougainville be heading for a repeat of the bloody battle over its resources?

WATCH – Brian’s special report can be seen on Dateline this Sunday at 8.30pm on SBS ONE.


One thought on “Riotinto Kills – that we knew, but here it is in detail.

  1. Rio Tinto must come clean on Bougainville war

    Media Release | Spokesperson Scott Ludlam
    Tuesday 28th June 2011, 4:39pm

    Rio Tinto must reveal the full extent of its involvement in the Bougainville war, the Australian Greens said today in the wake of revelations Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister has given evidence under oath on the decisive role of the company’s subsidiary in the conflict.

    Greens Senator Scott Ludlam said the Australian Government must also explain its own role in the war, and what it knew about the role of Rio Tinto subsidiary Bougainville Copper Limited in the conflict that claimed 15,000 lives.

    “The out-going Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Michael Somare, while Leader of the Opposition in 2001, stated in a sworn affidavit that BCL was the driving force behind the military action in Bougainville, and the blockade of the island, to re-open the copper mine. His view has been backed by the former head of PNG defence Major General Jerry Singirok. In light of these revelations, as BCL’s parent company, Rio Tinto must come clean on Bougainville,” said Senator Ludlam.

    Mr Somare’s evidence is part of an on-going class action in the US against Rio Tinto which began in 2001, brought by victims of the conflict.

    “Mr Somare has said under oath that Rio Tinto demanded the blockade of Bougainville and military action, and that BCL provided helicopters, transport, fuel, barracks and pilots for the PNG Government’s war against the Bougainville rebels. If this is found to be true, will Rio Tinto compensate the victims of this war? And what was the involvement of our own Government in this?”

    Senator Ludlam said the Bougainville copper mine provided the PNG Government with about 20 percent of its revenue while the Bougainville locals’ gain from the mine was a derisory amount of income and a ruined environment. This led to local resistance and the PNG government responded with a brutal crack-down.

    “This war drove half the population of Bougainville from their homes. By 1995, 64,000 people were in refugee camps. Ten per cent of the population died. The Australian Government was supplying weapons and training to the PNG army while the PNG government vowed to kill anyone who broke a blockade on the island, a blockade that kept out medical supplies. This was a horrendous, bloody war on our own doorstep. It’s time for the whole truth behind it to be known.”


Comments are closed.