Momis and Rio Tinto accused of trying to hijack Bougainville mining law

In a stringing public attack, Bougainville President John Momis has been accused of colluding with mining giant Rio Tinto to bulldoze into law a new Mining Act that would pave the way for the re-opening of the Panguna mine.

Twenty five years ago the environmental damage caused by the mine led to a civil war in which as many as fifteen thousand people lost their lives. Rio Tinto has never apologized or paid any compensation for the pollution or the terrible human costs of its mine.

Bougainville leader Sam Kauona has today published a two page article in the national press presenting his stinging criticism of Momis and Rio Tinto – The Regan/BCL political assault on Bougainville emerges from the shadows.

Kauona says Momis has acted unconstitutionally in trying to bulldoze a new mining law, drafted by Rio Tinto subsidiary Bougainville Copper and Australian academic Anthony Regan, through the Bougainville Parliament without public consultation.

This is the third draft of the Mining law. Two earlier versions were rejected by the public because they gave too much control of mineral rights and mining decisions to Momis and the politicians.

Kauona says there is now a tidal wave of public opposition on Bougainville to the reopening of the Panguna mine and Momis, Rio Tinto and Regan are desperately trying to swim against the current by seizing control of decision making.

Kauona says many Bougainvillians are puzzled as to why the man they elected President and “who for 40 years jumped up and down and led the opposition to the Bougainville Copper Act” is now the “key sponsor, apologist, supporter and cheerleader for BCL”.

Kauona says the latest draft of the Mining law allows Rio Tinto through BCL to retain its lease over Panguna “as if nothing happened”.

“Nothing happened? Bougainville knows that a war happened and up to 15,000 people died including PNG Defence Force Members. The Bougainville Copper Act  was a direct cause of the war”.

Kauona asks what rewards Momis and Regan might have been promised in the future for their assistance to Rio Tinto over the new law? As a possible answer, he points a finger at the way BHP has provided for ex-PNG Prime Minister Mekere Morauta since he left office after providing the company with immunity for the environmental damage its Ok Tedi mine caused in Western Province. Some murky links between Regan, ANU, AusAID and Rio Tinto have already been revealed.

The first draft Mining law was rejected by the public after it was exposed that Momis’s claims the law was a world first in the rights it gave to local people to decide whether to allow mining on their land were untrue and the law vested final decision making powers with the government.

However promises that the law would be redrafted to take account of the public views have proved to be false and, says Kauona, the latest draft law (which has not been made public) is just a reiteration of the first draft – which is why it has been brought in to Parliament via the back door.

Kauona says the new draft, which has been written by “rich white lawyers”  would drag Bougainville back to the Colonial era by denying landowners any rights in relation to mining, effectively stealing the ground out from under their feet.

Kauona’s article comes on the same day an Australian think-tank has warned the Australian government it could have to provide a new military intervention on Bougainville in a few years as the island could again descend into violence.


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

17 responses to “Momis and Rio Tinto accused of trying to hijack Bougainville mining law

  1. Frank Akuani

    Good for Kauona. And good he tied in OK Tedi. Also the same day its been revealed the damages they’ll done go all the way to Australia. And isn’t it a coincidence that the call was made about Australian intervention MAY be needed. Gee I wonder why. I think Kauona and others – actually the majority are letting the world no – there will be no repeat and probably no mine despite what old white men Petey Taylor and the biggest a-hole Alex Strum say or try to spin. This is GREAT news!!!

    • lunging m

      I love it Mr Kauona is standing up to these crooks who have been there from the start.. Mr Kauona, well done and well said!

  2. Once again Papua New Guinea Mine Watch takes pride in promoting former terrorist Sam Kauona who tries to spread uncertainty in the region. Amongst others Kauona is the spearhead of Australo-Canadian dubious business man Lindsay Semple from Morumbi Resources Inc. (formerly Invincible Resources).

    • Brad Stone

      Well actually Axel if you read The National article closely you will see landowner leader Lawrence Daveona is right behind Sam Kaouna on all the salient points.

      That reminds me …

      Didn’t you heavily invest in Lawrence Daveona?

      Didn’t you heavily invest in BCL?

      It looks like your getting f***ed on both fronts. Couldnt happen to a nicer guy.

    • lunging m

      So I see you are keeping a close eye which is understandable when it comes to money. I suggest you stay foot where you are, don’t worry about Mr Kaouna trying to make right your damage to his people. He doesn’t need your wisdom??, not at all.

    • Frank Akuani

      So no sooner do I post my comment than ole Alex writes to prove my point. Alex drop it old man. YOU are TERRORIST. You and all your ilk. And you can’t stand it when people – especially us black boys – see your game and call you out. Welcome to the new world Alex. Your days are over. Rest in peace old man.

      My apologies to Mine Watch and its readers, but this kind of bullshit simply needs to be called out.

    • Robert

      Terrorist or Freedom Fighter…what’s the difference.

      Why don’t you all just leave Bougainville alone and the people will decide what they want to do and when they want to do it not someone living in Australia or Europe.

  3. Kate

    I agree – the people of Bouganville should be allowed to determine the future of their land

  4. EJ

    Firstly I am a shareholder in BCL, I’m stating that to be as transparent as possible. Secondly I believe the people of Bougainville should decide whether the mine is reopened. The issue here is that it is not possible for everybody to be in agreement. The people of Bougainville should take their time to determine what defines whether there is support or opposition for the mine…but all should keep in mind that there will never be 100% supporting either direction.

    Momis clearly would like to see the mine reopen and IS trying to convince the people of Bougainville that this is a good thing. I’m not stating his view is correct but I frankly believe that he would like to see Bougainville as a viable self sufficient entity and knows that the only way this will happen any time soon is through mining. He does want to leave a legacy and does want to be seen as a leader that made a positive contribution to his nation.

    Rio is a supporter of the reopening of the mine. I don’t know why the author of this article is surprised by that or would expect them to behave any differently. However, to accuse RIO of bribery without any evidence is wrong. Australian executives are held personally accountable if caught so why would an employee of RIO risk something like that when they could potentially be opening other mines with little risk.

    Should the people of Bougainville receive compensation? Yes! But how is this done in an equitable way? Perhaps the easiest way for the local people to receive compensation is for the Bougainville government to be given a significant share in a company that will commit $5bn to reopening the mine (that will provide a very large regular income to pay for education, health and many other services) with additional financial commitments to local people.

    One disappointing point in the article and in all the comments is that no one seemed to see another civil war as the big issue. Please, the people of Bougainville should understand that while the mine instigated the conflict the people actually doing the killing were local and this could happen again. Please to the people of Bougainville, do not have such a short memory, please do not put your country through the tragedy of the past. It is irresponsible for politicians and leaders to talk of armed conflict until all other avenues have been exhausted.

    Can I also add your close neighbours the Solomon Islands have managed this process relatively well. The government has the authority to issue mining licences but the miner requires agreement from the local population prior to the mine going ahead.

  5. Pingback: AusAID adviser to ABG has financial links to Rio Tinto | PNGexposed Blog

  6. Pingback: AusAID adviser to ABG has financial links to Rio Tinto | Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

  7. Axel G. Sturm – President of ESBC…you remember me,im going to feed you to the dogs, if you are buried too,I’ll dig you up…

  8. Pingback: Bougainville mine: locals who oppose its re-opening must have a voice | Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

  9. ErengDuu

    Axel Sturm had the guts to call General Kauona a terrorist. Its obvious Axel Sturm doesn’t understand that in our Nasioi culture, the land is part of our identity. Why should we give it up so Stu rm and his fatcat friends in ESBC benefit from the shares in New York or All Ords? We DONT WANT TO BE RELOCATED FOR SOME MERE ROYALTY PAYMENTS STURM. WE WILL OWN THE PROJECT. YOUR OLD BCA EXPIRED ON THE 10th Of JUNE 2009. The OLD BCA Which was SHOVED DOWN OUR THROATS BY THE AUSSIE COLONIAL ADMINISTRATIONS. Kauona fought for what is known as Pangkirangku and Beuro, our Mountain homeland that is washed away by RIO, BCL and ESBC. We dont want to be relocated for some Royalty Payments Sturm. We are smarter than back in 1967. So Axel, advise your co -Shareholders that its gonna be a whole new deal benefiting all Bougainvillians or NOTHING. Sam is no terrorist. He is our freedom fighter. YOU ARE THE TERRORIST. NOW STOP WHINGING ABOUT ALL THAT HAS BEEN DONE.

  10. ErengDuu

    Brad Stone, Sturm invested a mere £1500 as assistance to conduct some landowner reconcilliations in Panguna does not mean Mining will re-open. LO’s today wont sell their mothers to the dogs.

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