ABG President John Momis demands clarity from PNG Government on mining deal

EMTV via Pacific Mining Watch

President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville John Momis is demanding clarity from Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and mining giant Rio Tinto on any dealings they have over the shares of Bougainville Copper Limited.

President Momis says he has unconfirmed reports that the PNG Government is in the process of buying the 53% shares that Rio Tinto has in BCL.

Momis says any secret dealing between the two parties is seen as a repeat of the dealings between the Australian colonial administration and Rio Tinto in the 1960s. He says, this can be seen to undermine and even destroy support for the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

President Momis says the newly enacted ABG mining Act has conditions that prevent such dealings.  Section 112 states that any mining deals of more than 25% shares of any company holding an exploration license can mean withdrawal of the license.

President Momis says he has raised this issue with Prime Minister O’Neill in December 2014 and has received confirmation from O’Neill that there are no deals. However, the response from Rio Tinto did not confirm nor deny any dealings.

9 Comments

Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

9 responses to “ABG President John Momis demands clarity from PNG Government on mining deal

  1. Sounds awfully suspicious. It could be a plot to prevent the conditions of the promised referendum being achieved, as armed Bougainvilleans are hardly likely to surrender their weapons while something like this is hanging over their heads. Given the shady track record of PNG’s PM, one can’t rule out a devious plot of this kind. In fact it seems quite likely.

  2. Momis, you have known since 2014 about this move yet you passed the Mining Bill in March 2015.

    So today’s news YOU now state: “I also spelt out that it would be completely unacceptable to Bougainvilleans for the National Government operate the Panguna mine.”

    WHY WERE YOU COERCED TO PASS THE MINING BILL?

    28 MARCH 2015: The controversial Bougainville Mining Bill has been passed by the Autonomous Bougainville Government parliament and has been immediately condemned by critics as “forgetting history”.

    The bill went through the third reading to become a Bougainville law yesterday.

    It has been adopted in spite of all the negotiations and dissatisfaction expressed by factions of the communities throughout Bougainville.

    The bill did not go unchallenged but was forced to go through scrutiny by former combatants who demanded certain sections to be removed before they could allow the government to finally pass the bill.

    At the time of the passing of the bill, the House was full to capacity as people witnessed the passing of the bill.

    The member for Central Bougainville and Minister for Communication in the Papua New Guinea National Government, Jimmy Miringtoro, told Radio New Dawn FM from Port Moresby that he was not happy that the ABG had rushed this bill through on the eve of the ABG general elections.

    He said the ABG should have left the bill to the next government after more scrutiny from all stakeholders on Bougainville.

    Miringtoro said that pushing the bill through was “not proper” as other outstanding issues were still not yet resolved on the future of mining on Bougainville.

    ‘Still in dark’

    He said that from the beginning he had warned the ABG against the bill, especially when the people were “still in the dark” about how they might lose their rights form their land and resources forever.

    The minister also also said that the bill had been written by “outsiders” like Adam Smith International which had been involved in controversial development policies in the Third World.

    It was unfortunate the government did not “listen to the cries of the citizens”, Miringtoro said.

    The Australian-based Bougainville Freedom Movement also criticised the passing of the law

    It challenged a speech by Bougainville President John Momis yesterday when he was quoted as saying: “With our new mining bill, we are completely rejecting that terrible past,” referring to the decade-long civil war over the Panguna copper mine and the envronmental degradation.

    “Does this mean that President Momis is forgetting his own history and the shocking history of Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) in its mining operations on Bougainville and what the mining company did to the people of Bougainville and the environment?” said BFM in a statement.

    “It is a ‘terrible past’ and will not be forgotten but it should not be ‘rejected’.”

    Not once had the BCL or Rio Tinto mining companies ever apologised or compensated the people of Bougainville for the environmental devastation it caused and the “extremely wicked atrocities it inflicted on the people of Bougainville”, said BFM.

    • Fred Hela

      Well said! An outsider but concerned for the people say same. Where in the new law has provision for damage claims of the past, if that is not necessary, I hope John Momis is making a huge claim against BCL on behalf of the people of Bougainville.

      • Since the mining law governs all future mining investments and operations, not just operations by BCL, there’s no way it could specify the terms of each agreement between Bougainville and potential mining owners/operators. If BCL wants to return to Panguna, the necessary contract will have to stipulate restoration measures and compensation agreements, not just future developments.

  3. Dee

    Momis has delivered his people to the predators. Now as they plan to meal upon Bougainville he is worried about which lion will devour Panguna? What a shameful man, he was entrusted to protect, and instead he has let loose the lions, and the people are again forced to run for cover.

  4. Brad

    Good Father Momis, the master of grand schemes that blow up in his face. Anyone with half a brain knows Rio are sniffing around for buyers, the Chinese, the PNG government. And if they choose to sell, thats their right. Welcome to capitalism 101, those with capital call the shots, its how it works.

  5. I understand that Section 112 of the new Bougainville mining bill states that any mining deals of more than 25% shares of any company holding an exploration license can mean withdrawal of the license.

    • Brad

      That provision only lasts for 2 years, following the date the exploration license is issued. After this time 53% can be sold off. So Rio Tinto would appear to be well within their rights to sell to who ever they want in the near future. Not that it matters much, the consequence for locals is the same.

  6. Hmm, perhaps suitable terms could be written into individual contracts with miners?

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