One PNG | 28 April 2017
Panguna landowners today presented a petition to the Bougainville Government office of President John Momis, rejecting BCL’s application for an exploration licence.
The petition is a direct response to reports that President Momis is considering supporting the BCL application because he understood it was supported by local landholders.
Philip Miriori and a number of other representatives of SMLOLA met with President Momis in March this year following the misleading statements made suggesting BCL had unanimous consent.
Although it was acknowledged at that meeting that President Momis had been misinformed, unfortunately there has been continued support for BCL and the landowners felt it important to demonstrate the overwhelming and heart felt view of the owners of the minerals – BCL will never be accepted on their lands.
The Chairman of the SMLOLA, Philip Miriori, said the petition proved President Momis had been misled about the supposed local support for the BCL application.
“We are the landholders who own the land and the minerals beneath the ground at the Panguna minesite,” Chairman Miriori said.
“We will never accept BCL, as these signatures show,” he said.
“We will be explaining the alternative proposal we have developed and presented to the ABG – a proposal that will get the mine back up and running professionally, and far earlier than BCL plans, which represents real benefits for Bougainville and its independent future economic prosperity.”
The petition presented today includes over 500 signatures – an over whelming majority of the landholders within the Panguna minesite boundary.
SMLOLA Chairman Miriori said the petition called on the ABG to reject the BCL renewal application.
“President Momis should do what he said he would do and listen to and respect the views of local people, the people the law has now given ownership of the minerals to,” he said.
“He should be looking at the alternative we have developed, instead of listening to more empty promises from BCL.”
SMLOLA Chairman Miriori said all of the petition signatories were landholders within the Panguna mining licence area. Many would be attending the community briefing about the SMLOLA alternative proposal in Arawa soon.
“For the first step, the grant of an exploration licence, those within that boundary are the only landholders who are relevant and affected by activities. Landholders in surrounding areas will also have a say when the mine takes the next step from exploration to a mining licence if the reopening of the mine needs to expand into those surrounding lands.
“BCL’s exploration licence renewal application should be rejected for many reasons but as many feel, the company has failed to address the environmental damage caused when the mine was operating up to 1989. All that was left for us was that environmental damage, division in the community and the loss of our land and many lives.
“We believe BCL left terrible damage which it has never tried to repair, it then had 2 years to try and progress the mine, it did nothing and ignored us. Now it expects the Government to give it another licence to return to Panguna. President Momis says BCL do not have a development partner and first need to find a development partner to be able to progress but can’t tell us who that is – more empty promises about what it might do in the future. How can we believe them after so many years of nothing. This is not acceptable to us. We will never allow it to happen,” Chairman Miriori said.
“There is a better way forward. We have a proposal which can deliver a real prospect for Panguna and future prosperity for Bougainville .
“Instead of trusting BCL’s false claim that it has unanimous landowner consent, the Government should be giving respect to the true local landholders and working with us,” he stressed.