The region, which is seeking independence from Papua New Guinea, has attracted mining and mineral exploration companies from around the world, lured by its valuable copper and gold reserves.
During a two-year investigation, Jubilee Australia tracked companies vying for the right to operate the island, ranging from one-person outfits to global operations backed by major investors.
Several of these companies hope to reopen the old Panguna mine, which sparked a brutal decade-long conflict on the island and continues to pollute surrounding waterways decades later.
The Jubilee Australia report finds that at least two of the companies seeking mining rights at Panguna have made payments to landowner groups and stakeholders who may be involved in decisions about reopening the mine .
The report also examines two leaked corporate presentations prepared for the bougainvillea government.
Fyfe Strachan, policy director at Jubilee Australia, said: “Whether or not Bougainville will reopen to large-scale mining is a decision of the government and the people of Bougainville. Any reopening of mining in Bougainville must have the free, prior and informed consent of landowners, bring real benefits to local communities and avoid repeating the environmental devastation of the past.
The report also raises questions about corporate responsibility, transparency and who is responsible for protecting human rights and the environment when multinational companies operate overseas.
It recommends establishing a mandatory human rights due diligence mechanism and a corporate beneficial ownership registry to hold companies accountable for the impact of their operations on communities overseas.
Ms Strachan said: “A strong and stable Bougainville is in Australia’s strategic interest. Australia’s regulatory regime offers few ways to hold companies accountable for their behavior overseas.
“These existing mechanisms lack resources and are difficult for affected communities to access. Without stronger checks and balances on companies operating overseas, Australia will continue to see its strategic interests undermined by its own corporations.
The report can be downloaded from: www.jubileeaustralia.org/resources/publications/scramble-for-resources.