Panguna is a town and a (now decommissioned) copper mine on Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea. It was owned and operated by Bougainville Copper Ltd, a subsidiary of Rio Tinto. Beginning operations in 1972, the company hired thousands of workers, most from other parts of the country.
By the end of its operations on May 15, 1989, when the mine was closed because of an armed uprising on the island, it was the largest open-cut mine in the world. It was accused of contaminating large areas due to its toxic waste, which affected land, water and air. Resentment against the environmental poisoning and the fact that most profits left the island, were major catalysts in the unrest in Bougainville in the 1970s and 1980s, leading to the Bougainville Civil War, which lasted from 1988 until 1998. In 2011 it was reported that former PNG Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare had alleged that Rio Tinto played a role in the civil war by helping finance the actions of the PNG government in Bougainville during the conflict in an attempt to allow the mine to be reopened .
Panguna in culture
In June 2015, the german band called Keluar released a EP called Panguna, related to the civil Bougainville Civil War. In their lyrics, they talk about the pollution and the problems with the people born in that place. For example, in the track called Instict, We read :
"This chemical slope is surreal,
it’s the way we turn in circles
of delight and fear.
I’ve been alone…
I’ve been alone, I was born..."
In the track called as same the EP Panguna, we read:
"Grown in the grace
of the old shore’s
Twist of her fate
and a passing storm,
I was bathed in streams of cortisol:
—runs in the veins, flows..."
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