A delegation of miners from the Hunter Valley and maritime workers from the Victorian branch joined Bougainville women at the Rio Tinto AGM in Melbourne today, opposing the mining giants attempts to regain a foothold on the island and reopen the Panguna mine and speaking in favour of the government tax on mining.
CFMEU (Mining and Energy) union provided Bougainville women proxies so that could raise their opposition to the reopening of the mine, at the Rio Tinto AGM, today.
The mine was the source of a 10 years civil war, economic devastation and 10,000 deaths.
The MUA delegation was led by branch secretary Kevin Bracken and follows a series of protests outside Rio offices in Melbourne during the ILWU miners lockout. (see Rio's Avatar?,)
Before the AGM opened media were interviewing shareholders about the Rudd Govt proposed tax on mining companies - among them Kevin Bracken.
"I said the tax was a good thing, because that way those resources are going back to Australians, not just the shareholders and the company," he said.
"It wasn't the end of the mining industry when they increased the price of iron ore 74 per cent in one year and won’t be the end of the mining industry by taxing profits by 40 per cent.”
The Maritime Union also helped distribute the following media release on behalf of the BOUGAINVILLE INDIGENOUS WOMEN LANDOWNERS ASSOCIATION:
WOMEN LANDOWNERS OPPOSE ATTEMPTS BY RIO TINTO/BCL TO REOPEN DEATH MINE
"The Bougainville Copper mine at Panguna is still a very sensitive issue for my people," Joanne Dateransi told Rio Tinto directors at the Annual General Meeting in Melbourne today. [Ms Dateransi is President of the Bougainville Indigenous Women Landowners Association.]
"We strongly oppose the reopening of the Panguna mine", said Ms Dateransi. "Women are the landowners on Bougainville and we make the decisions as to how the land will be used."
"The Bougainville copper and gold mine caused massive environmental destruction to our land and environment. Our food crops were damaged as a result of mine pollution which spoiled our cash crops and food gardens.
"When the mine closed, the pollution stopped and we were able to grow healthy food again.
"If you try to start the mine again you will cause more damage and bring more misery into our lives.
"The demand of 10 Billion Kina compensation for the environmental damage caused by the mine has not been paid. We demand compensation for the lives lost in the nine year war in which we suffered horribly.
"When we stopped the mine, BCL demanded the Papua New Guinea Defence Force reopen the mine by any means necessary. Twenty thousand people died as a result. The blood of my people is on your hands. DON'T COME BACK AGAIN. YOU ARE NOT WELCOME!!" Ms Dateransi said. "If the mining comes back again there will be more bloodshed. We don't want that."