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.