The Island of Bougainville in the South Pacific has been the scene of an epic decades-long struggle that resulted in locals, armed only with axes and bows, defeating troops armed with the latest world-class weaponry. The battle pitched the natives fighting to retain their ancestral homes against a Rothschild multinational fighting to steal the world’s largest gold deposits at the Panguna mine. As a result of their victory, the Nasioi people of Central Bougainville became the first indigenous peoples in the world to force a global mining multinational to give up one of its richest ventures.
This is not just a local matter, because there is so much gold on that Island that it could affect the future of the global financial system. The international bankers say there are only a few tens of billions of dollars’ worth of gold and copper there, but if we use the fractional reserve methods employed by the Federal Reserve Board in 2008 to price gold (700 tons of gold was turned into 750,000 tons worth of gold backed bonds), then it is worth hundreds of trillions of dollars.
Furthermore, locals say the mine was covering up a massive money-laundering operation by claiming gold was copper, meaning that the mine and six other known rich gold reserves on the island are potentially worth hundreds of trillions of dollars even without fractional reserve magic. “They would take the gold out at night and hide it in caves,” according to Bougainville Revolutionary Army sources.
The mine was operated by Rio Tinto Zinc from 1972 until 1989 before the locals shut it down, emerging victorious after a decade-long war that resulted in the death of about 30,000 people or more than 10% of the population, according to BRA sources. A BRA general, “Joel,” describes how the unarmed rebels were able to defeat a state-of-the-art army. “When we first attacked them, we only had axes and spears and knew that many of us would die,” he says. “We used guerrilla tactics; we attacked one soldier and took his gun, with that gun we could kill 3 or 4 other soldiers and take their guns, and so on; that is how we armed ourselves,” he says.
Red Cross officials working on the island also say that to this day there are extra-judicial murders and many “disappeared people,” as a result of the conflict on the island.
Furthermore, the resistance army won the war only to face a blockade that, to some extent, continues to this day.
Rio Tinto Zinc claims they have handed over control of the mine to Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) that is mostly owned by the Autonomous Government of Bougainville (ABG). Rio Tinto also claims they are not liable for the enormous environmental damage they caused by dumping mercury and other poisonous mine slurry into a local river because they were abiding by local laws at the time. However, if you take a look at Bougainville Island on Google Earth, you can still see clearly, decades after the mine closed, the scars on the landscape caused by it. They should not be allowed to get away with environmental destruction so great that it shows up on satellite photos.
The Twin Kingdom of Meekamui and Papala, the locals’ name for the island, is headed by King David Peii II, who wants to charge the owners of Rio Tinto with war crimes and sue them for environmental destruction at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
The BCL people, for their part, are trying to re-open the mine and promise to be nice to the environment this time, but the locals are so bitter about the mass murder and environmental destruction that they do not want BCL or ABG to have any role whatsoever in the mine.
This is how King David views the situation: