Panguna landowners give big tick to mining but no to BCL

Radio New Zealand | 22 June 2017

The head of a landowners group controlling the site of the Panguna mine in Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville says it is keen to see a resumption of mining but will always be opposed to the return of Bougainville Copper Ltd.

BCL was the original operator of the mine and has been blamed for sparking the civil war.

Its former multi national owner, Rio Tinto, last year walked away, giving its shares to the PNG and Bougainville governments, rather face demands for compensation over the environmental and social damage blamed on the mine.

Last week this new look BCL was stopped by a protest march from signing a memorandum of agreement with the Panguna landowners – a move seen as the first move to re-open the Panguna mine and boost the region’s economy ahead of an independence vote in two years.

Not the least of BCL’s problems is that they were not dealing with the proper landowners and legal action has put a stay on the signing of the MOA.

The man they should have been talking to, Philip Miriori, the chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association, says he will never back BCL returning.

Mr Miriori, who also heads the Me’ekamui Government of Unity, explained the SML’s thinking to Don Wiseman.

PHILIP MIRIORI: It is the same legal company with enormous liabilities hanging on its shoulder and some much damage was done during their operations. So it is the same company.

DON WISEMAN: The thing here is of course that since Rio Tinto has walked away – it doesn’t have resources does it? In terms of that  environmental and social deficit that people like John Momis have talked about, this current version of BCL is never going to be in much of a position to do much about that is it?

PM: With BCL the ABG is saying it is a new company, but we don’t think it is a new company, it is the same company,, and the same management. People from Rio [Tinto] are still with the BCL arrangement, even now.

DW: Are there any circumstances under which the Me’ekamui Government of Unity and the SML Osikaiyang Landowners would ever accept BCL?

PM: I don’t think we will accept BCL to come back to Panguna. BCL has said it would attract development partners, but we don’t know this development partner, who is he? maybe it is the same Rio Tinto. They are looking to come back and work with BCL.

DW: So this protest last Thursday and Friday, the protest and the road block, did your people organise that?

PM: The people of Panguna especially the landowners and the women, our stand has always been clear – we don’t accept BCL to come back and with the protest march last Friday it is a common sense that the people have here in Panguna, that by not accepting BCL to come back they had to stand for their rights. So they [The ABG] can make any tricks under the sun but with the records that BCL have in the past it is just not going to work. The protest march was right, you know.

DW: last month you presented a petition to the ABG, more than 500 signatures. What has been the outcome of that?

PM: Well the outcome from the ABG was negative. I presented that petition myself to President Momis. The petition was signed by 550 people from Panguna – the SML [Osikaiyang landowners]. So no response from President Momis’s office, so these are the things that have brought the people together on the signing of the MOA.

DW: You are not opposed to mining are you? You clearly are interested in mining and you have linked up with this Australian miner called RTG. Why have you linked with them? Why have you chosen them?

PM: I am always for mining you know but not with BCL. We have this Australian company. We work with them for some time now and we built trust so we are not opposed to mining opening. We are for. We want the mine to open, to generate prosperity for our people and not with BCL. We don’t want BCL to come back you know.

DW: Let’s say RTG were to get an exploration licence, would you be keen for them to get in there and start doing the EL work, as it’s called, immediately and then the prospect of opening the mine as soon as possible.

PM: If we are given an exploration licence we will start immediately and also make clean up operations around Panguna.

DW: There are a lot of other landowning groups close by aren’t there and it would seem that you are at odds with them, or are you?

PM: Now I want to correct this. The other eight, or whatever, landowner associations – I think at this point in time they are irrelevant. They can come in when the mine is up running. They can make no decision on where the pit is, so right now, for me, it is irrelevant for those other organisations to make a decision over the SML [Osikaiyang Landowners]. The only entity, legal entity, is SML which I am chairman of.  

DW: Your message then to the ABG is that there is substantial opposition among the people who are on the land, or who have the land, around that enormous hole in the ground at Panguna, who are opposed to BCL coming in, but you are very keen on mining and you want to form an association with this Australian company, RTG.

PM: A proper awareness is what is needed now. To go right down to the people, you know, and tell them what is the advantage of re-opening the mine now, and the disadvantage of keeping that mine [shut] for ten years as BCL says. But to us I can see that we start the mine up now, so that we start generating the money and prepare for the referendum or whatever you know.         

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Filed under Environmental impact, Financial returns, Human rights, Mine construction, Papua New Guinea

Seabed mining petition goes to select committee in NZ

Heta Gardiner | Maori Television | 22 June 2017

The issue to place a moratorium on seabed mining has once again made it to Parliament.

Local Government and Environment Select Committee were presented with a message from KASM (Kiwis Against Seabed Mining) to put a halt on seabed mining in New Zealand waters until a better understanding of the risks and impacts are provided.

Phil McCabe from KASM says, “There is a bunch of stuff out there that we have the opportunity to turn into money. And I get that, I see the attraction, I’m a business person myself. The question is whether we have the knowledge or the ability to do that, to extract that material in a safe and responsible way. We don’t have that knowledge now to do that safely.”

In September last year, Mr. McCabe lead a petition calling for a moratorium on all seabed mining which was later presented to Parliament. McCabe also said to the Select Committee today,

“The financial benefits of seabed mining may not be as vast as speculated.”

Rino Tirikatene from Labour was in Select Committee and agreed that a more cautious approach should be taken.

“We just need to ‘taihoa’ and do some proper research, and not put all the pressure on the communities to fight against all these corporate interests,” saysTirikatene.  

However, Nuk Korako of National says that a moratorium might not be the best solution.

“Do we need a moratorium on this? Taking into account, there has been a really robust system in place, and when you look at all those applications, actually most of them have been turned down,” says Korako. 

The Select Committee will be looking into Phil McCabe’s submission over the next week. 

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Women in Porgera impacted with violence

Grace Auka Salmang | Post Courier | June 22, 2017

Family Sexual Violence is one of the most critical issues that women in the extractive area of Porgera are faced with.

Chair of Family Sexual Violence Action Committee (FSVAC) of Enga  and  founder of Voice for Enga Women Association Everlyne Sap revealed this when speaking on the sub theme: Leadership, gender equality and women empowerment for equitable service in extractive resource areas: Porgera in Enga Province at the Consultative Implementation & Monitoring Council (CIMC) National Development Forum yesterday at Crowne Plaza Hotel in Port Moresby.

According to Ms Sap, Porgera is a district of about 65,000 people and 50 percent of women about half of the population are impacted by mining activities just like in any other extractive resource areas in PNG.

“Of the many direct and indirect issues related to mining, Family Sexual Violence or Gender Based Violence is one major issue affects the lives of women and families at different degrees.

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Panguna mine protesters “not landowners”

Sebastian Hakalits | Post Courier | 22 June, 2017 

The Vice President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government Raymond Masono has expressed disgust at the action of those calling themselves hardliners that recently prevented the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).

The signing scheduled for June 16 2017 was to be done between the ABG and the Panguna Mine Affected Landowners (PMAL) and other stakeholders to the Panguna Mine.

Mr Masono said the signing would have started the process of removing impediments to reopening the Panguna Mine but the ABG team was prevented from travelling to Panguna for the signing by the group opposed to the reopening of the mine and Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL’s) return to redevelop the mine.

He said Bougainville is probably one of a few places in this country where individuals or groups disagreeing with a particular government policy can stop a legitimate government from carrying out its mandated duties for the common good of its citizens.

Mr Masono said this does not auger well for good governance, the rule of law and respect for lawful authority, that are important benchmarks in the ratification outcome of the referendum by the national government and the international community who are watching our every actions.

“What kind of signal are we sending to the United Nations and the rest of the international community with regards to Bougainville’s unity prior to the conduct of the referendum, as well as ratification by PNG and the support of the UN and the international community of the outcome,” Mr Masono asked.

The Vice President said it must also be understood that those opposed to the reopening of Panguna and the return of BCL are not landowners.

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Bougainville protestors given two weeks for re-think

Radio New Zealand | 20 June, 2017

The government in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region of Bougainville says it has given people opposed to a possible re-opening of the Panguna copper mine two weeks to re-think their opposition.

This comes after what Vice President Raymond Masono said was a few dozen people who last Friday blocked access roads for a government delegation wanting to sign a memorandum of agreement with Panguna landowners at Panguna in Central Bougainville.

The government says re-opening the mine, which was at the heart of the Bougainville civil war, is critical to the province developing some economic viability ahead of an independence vote in June 2019.

Mr Masono said the night before, government officials spent hours explaining to the protesters the importance of re-opening Panguna.

But he said Friday’s cancellation of the MOA signing was just a temporary setback.

“When they are ready, they will come to the ABG, (Autonomous Bougainville Government), and then we will organise for the signing ceremony for the MOA,” Mr Masono said.

“We consider this non-signing of the MOA as a temporary setback.”

The protesters, mostly women, said they are opposed to any discussion on a Panguna re-opening before the independence vote.

They also say they are adamantly opposed to Bougainville Copper Ltd, which used to run Panguna, having anything to do with a new operation.

BCL used to be majority owned by Rio Tinto but last year the multi national walked away from the mine and the associated demands for compensation and rehabilitation, giving its shares to the Bougainville and PNG Governments.

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Central Bougainville Women’s Group Against Mining

A group of Central Bougainville protested against the proposed Memorandum of Agreement signing on Wednesday June 14.

The women said they raised their concerns as they are the custodians of their land pass through their matrilineal lineage.

They were supported by the youth, men and children who protested against the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) saying they do not want the Bougainville Copper Limited come back to Panguna.

They carried placards and banners with some reading: “Women Own The Land”, “Do Not Dig My Land,” “BCL Not Welcomed in Panguna”, “Don’t create Another Bloodshed,”.

The march ended at the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association office, where they voiced their grievance to the former Chairman, Lawrence Daveona and his executives.

Panguna landowner, Bernadine Gemel Kama said, they have voiced their concerns to Mr Daveona, claiming they will sign the agreement which lacked their consent of women who are culturally the true landowners.

She also said the Panguna issue will cause division among the people of Bougainville because this mine has caused bloodshed of reeking war and destruction, with many lives lost during the civil war.

She said the Panguna Mine reopening, was an issue, in the interest for only a minority of people especially men, labelling it as which is a dangerous move by the Autonomous Bougainville Government, which a second crisis should not happen again.

And the message was clear, no mining, no BCL. And they are against the signing saying it must not proceed this Friday.

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PNG EITI report gives lie to mining propoganda

Ignorant politicians and the foreign mining companies who feed them love to tell us how dependent Papua New Guinea is on large-scale mining and petroleum extraction.

The 2014 EITI Report gives the lie to those claims.

EITI finds petroleum and mining contributed only 12.7% of government revenues in 2014 and a measly 2.5 – 10% of formal sector jobs.

PNG LNG employs less than 2,000 local workers, in contrast, there are 80,000 small-scale miners working in the informal sector with little or no government support!

PNGEITI Releases Findings For 2014 Report

Post Courier | June 19, 2017

THE petroleum and mining sector contributed 12.7 percent of government revenue in 2014 compared with 7.5 percent in 2013.

This is according to the PNG Extractive Industry Initiative Transparency Initiative (PNGEITI) 2014 Report, released this year

The report states this increase correlated with the commencement of the PNG LNG project.

It states the total value of mineral exports from PNG mines for 2014 was K17, 522.5 million comprising 84.18 percent of total export value.

It noted the government’s attempts through policy intervention to manage such fluctuations, as in the case of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) and promoting investment in the non-extractive sector of the economy.

In stark contrast to the total export value the industry represents, the extractive industry provides limited direct employment, with estimates running from 2.5 percent to 10 percent of PNG’s formal workforce.

“However, it directly supports a significant proportion of employment across the economy. During the construction, the PNG LNG Project provided up to 21,200 jobs (in 2012), while in operations, it employs around 2, 400 workers (as at December 2015), 75 percent of whom were PNG citizens” the report stated.

“There are also up to 80,000 small-scale miners, largely working outside the formal economy” it said.

Head of the PNGEITI Lucas Alkan said for the first time in this country, “we have published a comprehensive and detailed report covering the extractive sector, and they provide a reliable source of information for public use”.

“We are already working on the next two reports based on 2015 and 2015 financial years and these will be published in December,” he said.

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