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About the Author

Kevin Rennie
Citizen journalist, Teacher (retired),Volunteer (Melbourne, Australia)

I am a retired secondary teacher and unionist. I have been an Australian Labor Party member since 1972. After teaching in Victorian schools from 1975, I spent 8 years teaching in the Northern Territory: 4 in Katherine, followed by 4 in Maningrida, an aboriginal community in Arnhem Land. Returned in June 2008 to Melbourne to live after 15 months in Broome. Now live near Red Bluff which overlooks Half Moon Bay on Port Phillip Bay's eastern side. I am a Global Voices author.


Mekamui Message: No More Mining, No More Bloodshed

Published 09th April 2010 - 16 comments - 11831 views -

Mekamui Message: No More Mining, No More Bloodshed from Kevin Rennie on Vimeo.

Clive Porabou is taking a strong message to London. When he attends the Rio Tinto Annual General Meeting on 15 April, he'll be telling them 'no more mining' on Mekanui (Bougainville Island).

Bougainville Copper Limited's Panguna mine closed in 1989 after an armed struggle against the company and the government of Papua New Guinea. BCL is controlled by mining giant Rio Tinto.

Clive was a fighter for the Bougainville Revolutionary Army. Locals claim that up to 20,000 people died during the secessionist struggle, many from health related problems. He is an independence activist, documentary maker, singer and writer. He blogs at Mekamui.

In Mekamui Message, Clive talks about:

  • the continuing struggle for independence
  • demands that Rio Tinto redress past injustices and pay for environmental and other damage
  • his journey to London: 'we don't want mining at the moment, because if they sign anything with the small group they are talking with ... there will be bloodshed. We don't want bloodshed on the island.'
  • his hopes for his people

The Autonomous Region of Bougainville was given a measure of self-government in the 2000 after a peace accord. There are elections in progress for the Autonomous Bougainville Government. An independence referendum is planned for 2015, which is also the target year for the UN's Millennium Development Goals. Mekamui, the traditional name for Bougainville Island, means sacred-island. The islanders are not closely related either ethnically or culturally to the rest of PNG. They have much stronger ties to the nearby Solomon Islands. In fact Clive has lived there since being evacuated in 1993 after being wounded in action.

Mekamui has a population of approximately 200,000. Mekamui has a matrilineal system in which land and property are inherited through the female line. Hopefully, there will be more in a post next month when two of the leaders visit Melbourne to spread the women's message.

Rio Tinto's Melbourne media contact, David Luff, referred me to the recently released 2009 Annual Report which contains the following:

Mining has been suspended at the Panguna mine since 1989. Safe mine access by company employees has not been possible since that time and an accurate assessment of the condition of the assets cannot therefore be made. Considerable funding would be required to recommence operations to the level which applied at the time of the mine’s closure in 1989. An ‘Order of Magnitude’ study undertaken in 2008 indicates that costs in a range of US$2 billion to US$4 billion would be required to reopen the mine assuming all site infrastructure is replaced.

The Rio Tinto's website contains dozens of Policies, standards & guidance documents including Land Access and Communities Relations. Rio's Mekamui challenge is to make their actions match their words. It will be interesting to see whether Clive Porabou gets an answer at the London AGM that is more than rhetoric.

*                        *                         *                           *

Other links:

Damian Baker Interview with RNZI on Bougainville

Bougainville Island, Wikipedia 8 April 2010

Thanks to Clive Porabou for permission to use his photographs, video extracts from Panguna Mine Dilemma and his music, Land is our Mother and Cry Freedom.

Thanks also to Rich Bowden and Damian Baker (of for their assistance in meeting Clive Porabou.

Category: Human Rights | Tags:


  • Benno Hansen on 09th April 2010:

    Good stuff! Blatantly advertised at my Ecowar blog - let me know if you’d like it done differently.

  • Kevin Rennie on 09th April 2010:

    Thanks for the cross post. Much appreciated.

  • Rich on 09th April 2010:

    Great post and excellent interview with Clive. Thank you Kevin.

    While the Mekamui struggle seems to have become the forgotten cause of the Pacific region, Clive’s words show how important it is for his people to resist the mine owners.

  • Kevin Rennie on 09th April 2010:


    The latest speech by Timor-Leste’s PM Xanana Gusmao shows just how fragile our relations with developing countries can be.

  • Rich Bowden on 09th April 2010:

    Point taken. One wonders if Gusmao had been harbouring such resentment for many years or whether this is a realigning move by Timor Leste.

  • Sylwia Presley on 09th April 2010:

    Very good post Kevin! I am so impressed with Clive’s presence!

    Can I take the vid and share it on my blog and sites? The message deserves to be spread!

  • Kevin Rennie on 09th April 2010:


    Thanks. Share away! He is a strong, gentle man. Hope his message does not go unheeded.

  • Andrea Arzaba on 22nd April 2010:

    Great article Kevin!
    Now,as you said before, we need to make sure those words resemble their own actions!

  • Kevin Rennie on 26th May 2010:

    From Clive’s blog today:
    “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 the President of the Bougainville Indigenous Women Landowners Association.]

  • Kevin Rennie on 18th December 2011:

    Clive is a very impressive person. Let’s hope that his efforts are successful in protecting the land and his people.

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