Right at the entrance of the second largest cave in the world “Benua” in Korepovi village Keriaka North Bougainville, in the Kunua district.
Keriaka is in the west coast of Bougainville which borders north and Torokina South Bougainville, where currently there is a gold rush.
People have now already began flocking to Keriaka but have been blocked and stopped by village chiefs who have now opposed the idea of alluvial mining.
Spokesperson and also landowner Patrick Miaro told Loop PNG that anyone caught mining illegally there will be chased off. “We have met with all land owners and chiefs and we have come up with a resolution that this place is reserved for tourists,” Miaro said.
“We know what will happen if miners flock over here, we ownners of the land will miss out terribly on alluvial mining benefits, because it will be chewed up by people from other places and we will be robbed our environment will be spoiled by nitrate and mercury,” he said.
“With Tourism we already have a plan and we’re now building accommodation for trekkers who will be coming to visit the cave, we’re not ready for alluvial mining and we strongly oppose it and we will regard anyone coming in here as a criminal,” Miaro said.
Miaro further stated that down in Torokina environment has been damaged already, and people should have been making a lot of money already taking tourists up to mount Bagana instead of digging for gold.
“We will stand our grounds and we will not bow down to bribery or sweet talks from outsiders with their agents on the ground whom we know off already,” Miaro said.
“We will be making more money in tourism than mining,” he said.
PIcture: Benua Cave in North Coast Bougainville where gold has been discovered.