Panguna

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NASA Landsat image of Panguna, showing tailings runoff.

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.

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Coordinates: 6°18′55″S 155°29′47″E / 6.31528°S 155.49639°E / -6.31528; 155.49639