North Bougainville rallies against Mining Act

Tension is rising on Bougainville, as concerns continue to mount over the new Mining Act that was rushed through parliament in March 2015.

Published below is petition lodged with the Autonomous Bougainville Government prior to the Mining Bill’s sudden passing by Parliament. The petition was signed by over 700 people from the Teop-Tinputz Community but was ultimately ignored by the MPs.

The petition details the people’s concerns over a mining act drafted in the United Kingdom by Adam Smith International, using ‘experts’ with direct financial links to the mining industry.

____________________

PETITION

LONG BOUGAINVILLE FINAL MINING ACT 

TINPUTZ COMMUNITY
NORTHEAST COAST
BOUGAINVILLE

                                                               13th MARCH 2015

THE PEOPLE OF THE TEOP-TINPUTZ COMMUNITY:

  • STRONGLY BELIEVE THE FINAL MINING ACT WAS NOT WRITTEN WITH THE PEOPLE AND THEIR CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS IN MIND, BUT FOR THE PROTECTION OF THE INTERESTS OF MULTINATIONAL MINING CORPORATIONS.
  • THE FINAL MINING ACT PROTECTS THE ABG AND ITS BODIES.
  • THE MINING ACT DISADVANTAGES THE RESOURCE OWNERS AND THE PEOPLE OF BOUGAINVILLE AND FAVORS THE MINING CORPORATIONS.
  • THE ACT COMPLETELY DISEMPOWERS THE RESOURCE OWNERS AND THE PEOPLE OF BOUGAINVILLE.
  • THE ACT STRIPS LANDOWNERS OF ANY POWER, NEVERMIND THEIR RIGHTS. RIGHTS WITHOUT POWERS ARE TOTALLY USELESS.
  • THERE ARE ALMOST 40 OFFENCES AND PENALTIES IN THE FIRST 200 PAGES OF THE ACT (300 PAGES YET REMAINING, IN ADDITION ABOUT 13 PNG ACTS), RESOURCE OWNERS AND OTHERS ARE SUBJECTED TO, OF WHICH THE MINING CORPORATIONS AND THE ABG AND ITS RESPECTIVE BODIES ARE NOT SUBJECTED TO. 

WE ARE PETITIONING THE AUTONOMOUS GOVERNMENT OF BOUGAINVILLE WITH A NUMBER OF DEMANDS AND WE ARE DOING THIS ON BEHALF OF ALL THE PEOPLE OF BOUGAINVILLE AS WELL. 

OUR DEMANDS: WE ARE DEMANDING THAT THE ABG:

 1.   NOT ENACT OR PASS THE BOUGAINVILLE FINAL MINING ACT.LEST WE FORGET!

WE ARE VERY MINDFUL OF OUR VERY RECENT CIVIL WAR (1989-1998/2001) STARING AT US IN OUR FACES WITH 20,000 LIVES LOST AND OUR FIGHT FOR SELF-DETERMINATION.

WE DEMAND THAT THE ABG:

2.   HIRES TWO OR THREE INDPENDENT LAWYERS TO EXAMINE AND REVIEW THE ACT FOR TWO YEARS OR HOWEVER LONG THEY WILL NEED TO COMPLETE THE JOB. AFTER REVIEWING THE ACT, THEY THEN CARRY OUT AWARENESS PROGRAMS THROUGHOUT BOUGAINVILLE ON THE ACT ITSELF-WHAT IT CONTAINS AND HOW THE ACT WILL AFFECT THE WHOLE POPULATION OF BOUGAINVILLE, NOT JUST LANDOWNERS ORGANIZATIONS.

3.   ON THE BASIS OF SUCH REVIEW INCLUDING AWARENESS PROGRAMS, A BOUGAINVILLE-WIDE CONVERSATION SPACE MUST BE ESTABLISHED SO THAT THE PEOPLE BECOME FULLY ENGAGED IN DISCUSSING MINING ON BOUGAINVILLE WITHOUT FEAR AND INTIMIDATION BUT WITH CONFIDENCE AND IN COMPLETE FREEDOM.

THE ACT WAS DRAFTED IN LONDON, UK, BY ADAM SMITH INTERNATIONAL ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD – WITHOUT THE PEOPLE OF BOUGAINVILLE’S KNOWLEDGE AND IN SECRECY! THIS IS TOTALLY WRONG AND MUST BE CORRECTED WITH THE PEOPLE!

4.   ADAM SMITH INTERNATIONAL, THE ABG AND ABG’S OVERSEAS ADVISORS HAVE ALREADY BREACHED THE INTERNATIONAL LAW OF ‘FREE, PRIOR AND INFORMED CONSENT’SPECIFIC RIGHT OF ALL INDIGENOUS PEOPLES STATED IN THE UNITED NATIONS DECLARATION OF RIGHTS OF ALL INDIGENOUS PEOPLES (UNDRIP), AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT, DEPARTMENT OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND TRADE, AUSTRALIAN AID, OXFAM AUSTRALIA 2014. THIS SITUATION MUST BE CORRECTED!

5.   WITHOUT THE PEOPLE’S CONSENT THE MORATORIUM HAS BEEN LIFTED THROUGH THIS ACT. THIS IS VERY WRONG INDEED! THE PEOPLE MUST BE CONSULTED ON THIS VERY SENSITIVE ISSUE!

WE HIGHLIGHT SOME OF THE AREAS IN THE ACT AS BASIS FOR OUR REASONS IN PETITIONING THE AUTONOMOUS GOVERNMENT OF BOUGAINVILLE TO WITHDRAW THE ACT, NOT ENACT OR PASS IT AT ALL ON 17TH OF MARCH 2015.

SOME OF THE REASONS FOR OUR DEMANDS:

  1. THE MINING ACT PROTECTS THE MINING CORPORATIONS AND ITS INTRESTS AND NOT THE RESOURCE OWNERS AND THE PEOPLE OF BOUGAINVILLE.
  2. THE ENTIRE POPULATION OF BOUGAINVILLE (100%) DOES NOT KNOW WHAT IS CONTAINED IN THE ACT, AND WE BELIEVE THIS APPLIES TO ALL MEMBERS OF THE ABG ITSELF. IN OTHER WORDS, THE ENTIRE POPULATION OF BOUGAINVILLE HAS NO KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT OF THE ACT AND HOW THE ACT WILL AFFECT THEM, ONCE IT BECOMES LAW.

IT IS AN OFFENCE TO ALL BOUGAINVILLE PEOPLE PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE AND IT GRIEVES THEM THAT THE ACT WAS WRITTEN BY ADAM SMITH INTERNATIONAL WITHOUT THEIR KNOWLEDGE AND CONSENT.

  1. IF THE ACT WERE TO BE ENACTED IT WOULD BECOME AN ENORMOUS PIECE OF LEGISLATION IN THE WORLD: 500 PAGES AS IT IS NOW AND ALL THE PNG ACTS OR LAWS THROWN INTO IT SUCH AS THE FOLLOWINGS;
  • PNG Constitution 1975
  • PNG Environment Act 2000
  • PNG Land Act 1996
  • PNG Land Disputes Settlement Act 1975
  • PNG Fishing Management Act 1998
  • PNG Oil and Gas Act 1998
  • PNG Water Resources Act 1982
  • PNG Survey Act 1969
  • PNG Insolvency Act 1951
  • PNG Companies Act 1977
  • PNG Public Finances Act 1995
  • PNG Search Act 1977
  • PNG Mining Health and Safety 1997

So, 500 pages of the Bougainville Mining Act: in addition to the 500 pages, are all the PNG Acts stated here. This is an enormous piece of legislation! Who will care to read and understand it in the ABG?

Furthermore, these laws are most negligible by the PNG Government, there are still massive destructions in the environment where mines are operating in PNG. The PNG Government has done nothing about them. This condition continues to maintain a situation where people are now much poorer than they were before mining companies came in.

  1. THREE TYPES OF MINING OPERATIONS, WHICH WE, THE PEOPLE OF BOUGAINVILLE HAVE NOT EVEN OR EVER CONTEMPLATED:
  1. LARGE-SCALE MINING OPERATIONS;
  2. SMALL-SCALE COMMUNITY MINING (ONLY 5METERS BELOW THE GROUND).
  3. OFFSHORE/SEABED MINING.

WHO THOUGHT THESE IN BOUGAINIVLLE? NO ONE! 

5. NOT DEMOCRACY BUT FASCISM: THE SECTION ON CRIMINAL SANCTIONS(1). It is a criminal offence to withdraw survey pegs.

(2). It is a criminal offence to block bulldozers coming on your land.

(3). It is a criminal offence to issue compensation demand outside the mandated forum:

AND MANY MORE, IN THE FIRST 200 PAGES OF THE ACT, ALMOST 40 OFFENCES AND PENALTIES, MOST INVOLVING JAIL TERMS AND HEAVY FINES.

ALL PUNISHABLE WITH IMPRISONMENT!!

NOT A BEACON FOR DEMOCRACY!!

NOT DEMOCRATIC AT ALL IN ANY SHAPE OR FORM AND IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD.

6. THE ACT DOES NOT CONTAIN BOUGAINVIILLE CUSTOMARY LAWS INCLUDING THE MATRILINY CUSTOMARY LAND TENURE SYSTEMS OF OWNERSHIP AND PRACTICE. SOME EXAMPLES INCLUDE;

LAND AVAILABLE FOR TENEMENTS

  1. Subject to this Act and applicable law, all land in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville is available for reconnaissance, exploration and mining and the grant of tenements over it.

This section totally breaches matrilineal customary land laws: 98 or 99% of land is owned by the Bougainville people, not the government. The design here makes it out that the government owns all land in Bougainville.

The ABG does not own 98% or 99% of land in Bougainville. No! Bougainville land is owned by customary landowners and the practice is according to Bougainville matrilineal customs and traditions.

Rights approved for by this Act to landowners.

Major flaw: Rights without powers are totally useless.

Landowners are the losers – their rights are so pitiful provided in this Act that it is a joke.

The issue here is that there are no accompanying powers to exercise such rights. No point in having rights when there are no powers to exercise the rights. Essentially, the landowners have been completely stripped off their powers in this Act! This is wicked!

On the other hand the ABG has EXCLUSIVE POWERS: CUSTOMARY RIGHTS DO NOT AFFECT EXCLUSIVE POWERS OF THE ABG.

Exclusivity or exclusiveness in this case means ‘nobody else has any power except the ABG. This means the ABG can exercise its powers to make decisions without consulting the people of Bougainville. This is totally wrong!

Example of ABG’s exclusive powers;

(a)…the ABG RESERVES ALL RIGHTS FOR RECONNAISANCE

(reconnaissance – operations and works to carry out the search for minerals by geophysical surveys; geochemical surveys; photo geological surveys and other remote sensing techniques and surface geology).

IN BOUGAINVILLE CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS, NO ONE, NOT EVEN ALIENS SUCH AS MULTINATIONAL MINING COMPANIES CAN ENTER CUSTOMARY LAND OR ANY PIECE OF LAND ON BOUGAINVILLE WITHOUT THE KNOWLEDGE AND PERMISSION OF THE LANDOWNERS!! NOT EVEN THE AUTONOMOUS GOVERNMENT OF BOUGAINVILLE CAN ENTER ANY PIECE OF LAND WITHOUT CONSULTING THE LANDOWNERS.

NO!

Every single person in the Autonomous Government of Bougainville knows this customary land law. They are not aliens to not know this very important customary land law!

ACCORDING TO BOUGAINVILLE CUSTOMARY LAND TENURESHIP SYSTEM, THE ABG DOES NOT HAVE EXCLUSIVE POWER/S OVER CUSTOMARY LAND. NO! 98% or 99% OF LAND IS OWNED BY THE PEOPLE, THE LEGITIMATE LANDOWNERS NOT THE ABG. LANDOWNERS – THE CUSTOMARY LANDOWNERS LIVE TO SAFE-GUARD THEIR LAND FOR THEIR FUTURE GENERATIONS’ INHERITANCE.

THEREFORE, UNDER CUSTOMARY LANDOWNERHSIP LAWS, THE ABG DOES NOT HAVE THE POWER NOR THE RIGHT TO INVITE ANY MULTINATIONAL COMPANY INTO BOUGAINVILLE LAND, INCLUDING ANY INTERNATIONAL EXPLORATION COMPANY. CUSTOMARY LAND LAWS MUST BE ADHERED TO.

THE ABG IS WRONG, COMPLETELY WRONG AND WILFULLY WRONG!

THE ABG HAS THE POWER;

(b)…to grant tenement under this Act. The people must know what a ‘tenement’ means and how it will affect them.

(c)…customary rights (remember not powers) do not affect ABG powers. This is because the ‘rights’ are not accompanied with any power/s at all. The ABG can do anything under the sun under this condition. On the other hand, powers and rights must go hand-in-hand, not one at the expanse of the other.

(d). The Act does not recognize nor take into account the Bougainville matrilineal system. Women’s power over landownership and recognition of such power is absent in the Act. The Act only allows for one woman to be a member of the Bougainville Mining Advisory Council! Not two, Not three BUT ONE!! This breaches the Bougainville Matrilineal Customary Land Tenure System and Laws.

  1. 100% OF THE PEOPLE OF BOUGAINVILLE DO NOT KNOW THIS BOUGAINVILLE FINAL MINING ACT:

(a)…Not even the Council of Elders, the Villages Assemblies, the landowners, who have been written into the Act without their knowledge.

(b)…offences and penalties – that landowners’ organizations, the Council of Elders and potentially Village Assemblies do not even know that they are subjected to, if they do not meet the requirements as stipulated in the Act.

For instance;
(a)…if landowners fail to submit an audit of their finances on time, they would be issued a fine not exceeding K50,000 and a default penalty not exceeding K1,000 everyday during which the offence was committed after conviction.

APPROVED LANDOWNER ORGANISATION REPORTING REQUIRMENTS!

If the Landowners Organization/s do not meet the reporting requirements, the fine is K50,000 and a default penalty of a fine not exceeding K1,000 for everyday during which the offence was committed after conviction.

COUNCIL OF ELDERS MAY MAKE COMMUNITY MINING LICENCE RESERVE AREA.

Rules set up by COEs or Village Assemblies provide for offences, prosecution of offences by the COE and impose a penalty of not more then K50,000 for any one offence.

K50,000 for any single offence…so three offences committed would potentially cost K150,000!

COMPETITIVE TENDER PROCESS FOR TENEMENTS: OFFENCE TO UNDUYLY INFLUENCE A COMPETITIVE TENDER

(b)…Any person, including a public servant who seeks to influence the outcome of a competitive bidding process… …’,

Penalty: a fine not exceeding K1,000,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten (10) years, or both.

SAFETY ZONE

For the purpose of protecting an installation, infrastructure facility, mining vessel or mining support vessels being used for offshore mining operations, the Minister, upon the advice of the BEC, may by notice published in the Bougainville Gazette prohibit all vessels or specified classes of vessels, from entering…. …

Penalty: A fine not exceeding K50,000. The person convicted may appeal in court…

So, canoes and fishermen, don’t fish around the area that was once upon yours and where you fished at will and in complete freedom!

WHAT IS INTERESTING IS: THE MINING COMPANY IS FREE OF ANY AND ALL OFFENCES AND PENALTIES!MAJOR DESTRUCTION OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND LAND IS NOT PENALISED! THIS IS MADNESS!

THE FACT THAT THE LANDOWNERS ARE MADE LANDLESS FOREVER AT THE EXPENSE OF SUCH MAJOR DESTRUCTIVENESS CAUSED BY THE MINE, IS NOT EVEN THOUGHT OF AS AN OFFENCE, LET ALONE A MAJOR CATASTROPHIE FOR ALL BOUGAINVILLE PEOPLE!

THE ABG, THE BOUGAINVILLE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL AND OTHER GOVERNMENT BODIES ARE NOT SUBJECTED TO ANY OFFENCES AND PENALTIES. 

BUT AS IT IS, RESOURCE OWNERS AND OTHER PEOPLE THAT MIGHT GET INVOLVED ARE SUBJECT TO OFFENCES AND PENALTIES – MOST OF WHICH INVOLVE IMPRISONMENT AND HEAVY FINES WHICH THEY WOULD HARDLY BE ABLE TO AFFORD. 

THIS LEADS TO TOTAL POWERLESSNESS ON THE RESOURCE OWNERS AND THE PEOPLE OF BOUGAINVILLE.

WE, THE PEOPLE OF TEOP-TINPUTZ AND ON BEHALF OF ALL THE BOUGAINVILLE PEOPLE STRONGLY DEMAND THAT THE AUTONOMOUS GOVERNMENT OF BOUGAINVILLE:

  • LISTENS TO OUR DEMANDS!
  • TAKE OUR DEMANDS SERIOUSLY!
  • AND ACT ACCORDINGLY! 

12 Comments

Filed under Human rights, Papua New Guinea

12 responses to “North Bougainville rallies against Mining Act

  1. pui nirai

    Convoluted, boring, misleading, proselyting, overly patronizing reading.

    The House of Reps has passed the Mining law. There were members in the last House representing constituencies in Tinputz district that were part of a collective vote and decision in enacting the Mining law. There are also local Chiefs, elders and landowners in this area that have been making representations to the ABG, almost demanding that they be allowed to solicit exploration companies to this area which, potentially, has mineral deposits like Panguna.

    Landowners in Bougainville’s west coast have said that if it will help Bougainville’s political course and economy, they’d be willing to discuss mining in their area under Bougainville’s own laws and mining regime.

    I It would be irresponsible of ABG and disastrous for the people and the environment if any Government in Bougainville allowed this to happen without Bougainville’s own Mining legislation in place.

    ABG has indisputable, unquestionable and legitimate mandate, through the people’s representatives in the House of Reps to enact laws. Likewise, the House can amend or de-enact laws where there are overwhelming reasons to do so. In fact a new leadership and a House after the current elections can do this. But leaving out all this perennial conspiracy theories aside, it is doubtful if even a new House will see any reason to listen to a few brainwashed and misinformed, pretending leaders to go down this track.

    Where are these tensions? What are they on Bougainville’s Richter scale? How are they being manifested? Who exactly is involved or fueling these tensions?

    The Bougainville People right now are waiting for the results of their third ABG elections, particularly to find out who the next President will be. This convoluted, disparaging, overly patronizing and misleading commentary on the Mining law is the least of their concern at this point in time. And particularly when the same people making these comments continue to be careless with the truth.

    • Fred Hela

      Pui Nirai, looks like you’re from outer space, you have no idea of the feelings of majority of the people. You say few brain washed, misinformed and pretending leaders…well, Mr answer man, lets wait and see if the government and it’s advisers and writers of a one sided so called Mining Act get their way. It may be just wishful thinking.

    • Dansi

      Yes yes, ‘pui niria’, are we surprised that a man who has cashed in on the consultancy gravy train, including with Rio Tinto, and several other resource grabbers, would be waiting for mining to begin. Your bank account is hungry, imagine all the different consultancy contracts you will acquire in the years to come. Whats your hourly rate? It cant be cheap, with all those years of experience. Keep the dollars in your eyes, they helpfully obscure your vision.

  2. We note in the Australian Government’s report on Papua New Guinea Aid Program Performance Report 2013-2014, it states the following on page 4:
    “In the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s (ABG) major undertakings included the establishment of the Bougainville Public Service, further progress on the transfer of powers from the National Government and preparations for negotiations on the reopening of the Panguna mine. This major change agenda will continue to gather momentum with ABG Elections in 2015, and the start of the five year window for a referendum on its future political status. “ See http://dfat.gov.au/about-us/publications/Documents/png-appr-2013-14.pdf
    This seems to indicate that the Australian Government considers it a foregone conclusion that the Panguna mine will be re-opened!

  3. pui nirai

    Fred Hela, you are living in a bubble. Unless the bubble bursts you have no way of getting out into the real world. I’m telling you facts, the simplest of which is that laws aren’t conscripted in stone tablets like the Ten Commandments. And politicians come and go, at the behest of constituents. IF you can’t see this you are the one stranded in outer space. The mining law was passed by the Bougainville House of Reps with overwhelming majority. IF leaders that are elected and follow later, like the example I have given you that a new House after the current ABG elections can do, it is absolutely possible. The majority of the people are the ones that elect their representatives into Parliament, not your imagined majority which is a figment of your convoluted imagination.

    • Fred Hela

      Pui Nirai, before you lecture me, couple points needs to be made aware. In a real, properly managed world of democracy, aren’t leaders have independent expert advise before voting in a new legislation or Act. Isn’t it only fair then, in a broken system with leaders half educated, and voting with cash in front of them or sweet talk by those pushing for their agenda, that a fair system would have been best for the way forward. This fair system would be one where an independent legal expert/s advise be of the order. The ABG and Rio Tinto had their expert advisers but what about the rest who are the representatives of the majority I think people even as you say, are a small minority, are well aware of the tricks of your friends ( it seems) will not sit idle but continue the struggle for fairness… only a fair society is what the people seek in their homeland.

  4. pui nirai

    Dansio, my comments have nothing to do with the misleading sentiments and the money grabs, gravy train concoction and the prejudices you express. If we are going to have a discussion, lets get our facts on the ground right, or at least put our ears on the ground and not pull arguments out of the sky. It is a cheap, devious shot when you pick on what other people do for a living with very little clue of what they do. Read again what I have said.

  5. pui nirai

    BFM, Vikki it is not up to and will never be up to any Australian Government whether or not Panguna will open. How do you arrive are these “forgone conclusions” or foreclosures offshore from Bougainville? Cut and paste again! It’s a pity you’ve never visited Bougainville when you had the chance. With the ban by PNG Government on Australians, you are in the top three on the ban list, a top three that Bougainville also agrees to.

    • Mr Pui,
      Vikki has been to Bougainville and she plans to visit again. Please explain
      why she is “in the top three on the ban list” to visit Bougainville?
      Suggest you read the PNG Aid Program Performance Report 2013-2014
      published by DFAT in the Australian Government report where it states on page 4:
      “In the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s (ABG) major undertakings included the establishment of the Bougainville Public Service, further progress on the transfer of powers from the National Government and preparations for negotiations on the reopening of the Panguna mine. This major change agenda will continue to gather momentum with ABG Elections in 2015, and the start of the five year window for a referendum on its future political status. “ See http://dfat.gov.au/about-us/publications/Documents/png-appr-2013-14.pdf

      Mr Pui, we agree with you in that “it is not up to any Australian Government whether or not Panguna will open”, Thank goodness for cut and paste!!!

  6. Tree Frog

    Why don’t we just all calm down and let democracy take its course. I wouldn’t bank on Australians providing any meaningful help given their penchant for herding unfortunate refugees onto foreign governments and their people. This is just a disgraceful act particularly when Australia has ample resources to settle these unfortunate people and provide them with a safe and promising future. Australia is in it for Australia and don’t be fooled into thinking that they will act otherwise. Bougainville for Bougainvilleans no one else.

  7. Exactly,

    Radio Australia, 3 June 2015

    Australian official admits PNG leaders not told of Bougainville plans
    Updated 3 June 2015, 18:00 AEST
    A senior Australian Government official has admitted Papua New Guinea’s leaders were not told of plans to open a new diplomatic post in Bougainville.

    Australian official admits PNG leaders not told of Bougainville plans (Credit: ABC)
    When it was announced in the May budget, PNG’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister complained they only found out through the media.

    It was a charge Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop denied at the time.

    The head of the Department of Foreign Affairs, Peter Varghese, has told a senate hearing that budget and communication difficulties thwarted attempts to inform PNG leaders.

    He was responding to questions from New South Wales Greens senator Lee Rhiannon.

    Speaker: Peter Varghese, head of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs

    Tune in and listen here….
    http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/radio/program/pacific-beat/australian-official-admits-png-leaders-not-told-of-bougainville-plans/1454950

  8. Pingback: Bougainville women’s MP wants mining law rethink | Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

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