The Momis Government, the O’Neill Government and their Man in Panguna

Bougainville Correspondent 

Tension is mounting on Bougainville. People know behind the scenes dishonest politicians are playing with the peoples resources. Recently it was announced that the PNG government is considering purchasing Rio Tinto’s stake in Bougainville Copper Limited. Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) President Momis  has spent the last six years boldly claiming a return to mining would be supremely profitable, so much so that the ABG’s revenues problems would be solved. Landowner opposition he claimed, was nothing more than a loud, ignorant minority.

It appears he may be too good a salesman. Now it is alleged, PNG wishes to buy Rio Tinto’s stake – why not given the optimistic predictions offered by the ABG and their foreign advisers.

Now on Hardtalk Bougainville, it is alleged another player is involved, Mr Philip Miriori.

Miriori is regarded in central Bougainville as an untrustworthy individual out to make a buck. Miriori has set up his own government, and has been making all sorts of deals with back door operators. The Miriori government calls itself the Sovereign Me’ekamui Tribal Government of Bougainville. Despite the grand title, it has no legitimacy in Panguna, and even less legitimacy elsewhere in the island. No one knows what Miriori is up to in his old office block in Panguna, many don’t want to know.

However, according to Hardtalk Miriori is now in bed with the Momis government and has been meeting regularly with the Prime Minister. It is also reported that Miriori and his government are now ‘acting on behalf of ABG to make decision as Landowners of Panguna’. 

Miriori has no right or power to be acting in such a way, this is widely known. If this report is accurate it would appear a desperate Momis government, who overstated support for its reopening plans, is now clutching to whichever individual can promise them Panguna.

This happened back in the colonial days, a big head local councillor claiming they spoke for the people, would consent to mining activities, and then the Rio Tinto people would be chased out by the real landowners.

One of Miriori’s back door partners, an Australian company, Transpacific Ventures, offers a rare look into the dubious schemes Mr Miriori is involved in. Transpacific Ventures are themselves fly by night mining speculators, who have used certain connections in the old Catholic boys club, to worm their way into Bougainville (not to be confused with POGE!).

The less holy 2013 investor memorandum states ‘the Me’ekamui are now attempting to form the first legitimate government on Bougainville in conjunction with the PNG National Government and the ABG … Following cooperation with the Me’ekamui, there is now a draft Mining Law Bill [the 2015 Bougainville Mining Act – M.W.] proposing a new mining regime for Bougainville that is anticipated to come before Parliament following a series of meetings between stakeholders in July/August 2013’.

Transpacific Ventures also claim, ‘On 31 August 2012 TPV signed the Cairns Agreement with the Sovereign Tribal Me’ekamui Government and the Me’ekamui Management and Oversight Committee (“the Committee”) for the right to manage, in partnership with the Me’ekamui, exploration and extraction of minerals and petroleum for 20 years, renewable, over the entire Bougainville Island and waters except for the 10,000 ha Panguna Moratorium Area, the site of the dormant Panguna mine and surrounding … Under the Cairns Agreement TPV has the first right of refusal in relation to the following minerals including, but not limited to, Oil and Gas, Gold, Silver, Copper, Lead, Zinc, Magnetite, Tellurium, Gemstones and Limestone’.

All of this would be funny, except for the fact Miriori’s government is in bed with the ABG and PNG governments. Greed for resources and money is alive and well. But this castle is made of sand, quicksand.


1 Comment

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

One response to “The Momis Government, the O’Neill Government and their Man in Panguna

  1. The deal has been done.
    PNG Prime Minister is now also the Minister of Bougainville Affairs.
    O’Neill can lie to the media supposedly to be “only interested in the people of Bougainville, for their health, education and economics”.
    Reality hits when his hip pocket and dollar sign eyeballs are his focus prompted by BCL and Rio Tinto. The Prime Minister of PNG O’Neill is a liar and obviously working very closely with BCL and Rio Tinto.
    Momis who is the President of Bougainvile has stated in his Parliament in Bougainville that:

    Mr. Speaker the next issue is:
    PNG Interest in buying Rio Tinto’s Shares in BCL
    From January 2014, when Prime Minister O’Neill unexpectedly visited Bougainville, he has talked about the National Government buying Rio’s shares in BCL. He has discussed the proposal with many different people. Last year, he pushed the idea strongly to the Me’ekamui Government of Unity leaders. He even took them to Moresby to discuss the possibility.
    This year, the Prime Minister has several times discussed the proposal with me. He proposes that if the ABG and landowners agree, a PNG-owned BCL would re-open Panguna. It would be owned by the PNG government in the same way it owns and runs Ok Tedi. The Government would allocate 30 per cent of the shares to landowners and the ABG. The Prime Minister has not advised who he thinks a new developer might be.
    If PNG does purchase Rio’s 53.83 per cent shares, there would be several consequences, including:
    • together with the 19.3 per cent BLC shares it already owns, PNG would own over 73 per cent of BCL;
    • transfer of 30 per cent of the BCL shares to Bougainville would still leave PNG the largest shareholder in BCL, and effectively controlling Panguna;
    • it would also be open to PNG to buy out all the small shareholders – the other 26 per cent – so that PNG would then own 70 per cent;
    • if Rio does not first make payment for a clean up, then the PNG owned BCL would inherit the previously Rio Tinto owned BCL’s liabilities for clean up. Landowners and the ABG would then be trying to pressure PNG on mine legacy issues. That would be a recipe for conflict between Bougainville and the National Government.

    So the PNG Prime Minister is another puppet for the mining company and we may see anothe OK TEDI deal where BHP Billiton was let off the hook for the environmental damage it did in PNG and now the current Prime Minister O’Neill will let BCL and Rio Tinto off the hook for the environmental damages and human rights abuses it has done on Bougainville, all for the corrupt money BCL and Rio Tinto put in his pocket.

    $100 milion and laughing all the way to the bank with BCL and Rio Tinto.

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