Category Archives: Bougainville

PNG minister issues warning over Panguna re-opening

Radio New Zealand | 18 March 2019

Papua New Guinea’s minister of Bougainville Affairs, William Samb, has called on the Bougainville government to forget about talking to investors in the Panguna mine until after the referendum on independence.

New Dawn FM reported Mr Samb was speaking during a Bougainville government roadshow around Bougainville that is explaining the referendum process.

His comments came after the government unveiled controversial plans to start its own company to re-open the mine, teaming up with a newly set up Australian company.

This has riled at least two other foreign investors who had been planning similar moves.

A year ago the government had declared a moratorium on opening Panguna but changed tack suddenly in January, saying it needed to open the mine to stimulate the economy ahead of the referendum vote in October.

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ABG rejects RTG Panguna proposal

The Panguna mine is one of the world’s biggest copper mines. (AAP Image: Ilya Gridneff)

12 March 2019

RTG Mining has announced the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) has rejected a proposal to reopen the Panguna mine.

RTG’s proposal was backed by the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA) whose members are the Customary Owners of the land and mineral resources of the Panguna Mine (the area of the old EL 01)

RTG says it will now will consult with SMLOLA as to the steps to be taken in respect of this development.

Meanwhile, the ABG is pursuing its own mining plans with Australian Jeff McGlinn and Caballus Mining.

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Bougainville’s Momis says mining opponents are lying

Autonomous Bougainville Government President John Momis.

Radio New Zealand | 12 March 2019

The President of Bougainville says landowners who criticise the government’s proposed mining law changes have been misled.

The president announced plans for sweeping changes to the mining law in January, as the government sought money to help pay for the region’s referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea.

It has been criticised by landowning groups and human rights organisations but John Momis says these people have been misled by mining companies and others who want their own deals.

Mr Momis said the new law would greatly increase returns for landowners, earning them much more than the current measure which only guarantees their ownership of the minerals while they are in the ground.

“Under our proposal they own the resources, unextracted or extracted, and based on the known ore body we can raise the money ourselves.”

The mining law change would also see the government set up its own joint venture with an Australian entity, called Caballus.

The joint venture, to be known as Bougainville Advance Mining , would aim to re-open the huge and controversial Panguna mine.

The Bougainville referendum is set to be held in mid October.

Bougainville to go ahead with controversial law rewrite

Radio New Zealand | 12 March 2019

The Bougainville Government remains committed to rewriting the autonomous Papua New Guinea region’s mining law.

President John Momis says critics of the move are lying.

He says the new law would mean landowners retain ownership of the minerals after mining, making the benefits they receive much greater.

In January Mr Momis announced plans to change the law and team up with an Australian businessman, Jeff McGlinn, forming a company called Caballus.

It sparked an outcry but as Mr Momis told Don Wiseman his government is undeterred.

TRANSCRIPT

JOHN MOMIS: That will enable us to find a developer or investor to come in a joint venture with us, on the basis that we don’t pay anything because the Panguna ore body is a known ore body. It’s 65 billion kina worth. It’s known. And there’s only one Panguna mine – that’s excluding the Seven other Sisters. There are many companies in the world, if we gave them the mining licence they would go and raise money based on the value of this ore body. We, the landowners, will raise that, raise the money ourselves.

DON WISEMAN: yes but some of the key landowners say they are being shut out of this whole process.

JM: That’s not true. They are being lied to by RTG [Australian mining company] and others. Under the current mining law, which is better than the national mining law, the landowners only own the resource as long as it’s in the ground. Unextracted. Once it’s extracted the developer takes over and the landowner only gets five percent. If they wish to increase their share they can only increase it by another five percent, which they have to purchase. Under our proposal they own the resources, unextracted or extracted, and based on the known ore body we can raise the money ourselves.

DW: There has been criticism of your changes to this mining act. You clearly need to sell it more around Bougainville.

JM: That’s right, yes. I admit that our people made a mistake of not conducting a proper presentation, which they have subsequently done, and many people have seen and are saying, well, this is the best we have. We have – this week actually – while I am on the roadshow with the UN Nations Resident Co-ordinator and the Minister for Bougainville Affairs, we are going on a weeklong roadshow, our ministers will be conducting awareness amongst the members and others. We are very confident, once people understand. They have been misled or told that we are going to take everything away from the landowners. It’s nonsensical. in fact under our mining law they don’t even have to pay for their share because it’s their resource.

DW: Jeff McGlinn, though, he is not someone with a direct involvement in mining is he. I know he is involved in mining machinery and so on, but he’s not a miner.

JM: He’s not a miner, but there are mining companies in the world, we can hire the experts. I think it’s 65 billion US dollars worth of ore in the pit, the current Panguna pit, mineable over 27 years. That’s a lot of money.

DW: Well I guess  the critical thing is how much of it comes back to Bougainville?

JM: Well under our law, or proposed initiative, I think it’s 58 billion. 50 billion will come back to Bougainville and only eight billion will go to the  developer. under their proposal, [RTG] 50 billion will go to them and the poor Bougainvilleans will only get 8 billion.

DW: So you are going to get a developer to come in, spending billions redeveloping the mine and they are not going to earn very much from it.

JM: Well they will get a lot of money. We own the resources and I think it’s six billion to develop the mine, and they can get the money back, quite comfortably.

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“ABG IS BEING RUN LIKE A PRIVATE BUSINESS”, HARDLINERS

Chairman of the Bougainville Hardliners, James Onartoo says ABG has neglected its role as a government and is operating like a business

Starizons Media | March 5, 2019

The Chairman of Bougainville Hardliners and former combatant turned businessman, James Onartoo has has raised concerns that ABG has not performed its functions of preparing Bougainville adequately for referendum vote on independence for Bougainville. Speaking at a meeting of representatives from Ex-combatant Core Group, No Mining Group, Central Bougainville SMEs and concern citizens yesterday afternoon in Arawa, Mr. Onartoo said that the unnecessary delays and postponement of referendum is the result of ABG not being prepared. He said that it should have had alternate funding plan in place already to cater for the funding delays but instead ABG has wasted time chasing after mining which apart from dishing out bribery has not started operating yet.

He went on to add that ABG has become more like private business of politicians and bureaucrats who care little for the consequences of their dealings especially with mining companies that are making unrealistic promises to them.

“There is general lack of transparency and wider consultations through out Bougainville and with those who are to bear the full brunt of the effects of mining whether they be environmental, social, economic, cultural or otherwise. Instead ABG is going outside Bougainville to discuss business and taking away handpicked people who they feel will open doors for them. Some key members of the Ex-combatant core group have also been lured away with promise of cargo and cash and are now associated with ABGs business and mining interests.

“This is quite sad because it is through the core group that dialogue was established with every known faction on the island. This ongoing dialogue has shown promise of uniting the whole island. However, lack of funds have slowed down core groups’ work throughout the autonomous region.

“The recent upsurge in violence and killings can shows that peace process has stalled because the ABG has got it’s priorities wrong.

ABG should continue to fund the core group so it can complete it’s good work instead of drawing away its members to chase after money” he said.

Mr. Onartoo also called on Simon Pentanu to explain why the three mining bills were read in Parliament without adequate scrutiny of the house of representatives through discussions and debates. Mr Onartoo also questioned why Jeffery McGlinn, a foreigner and not a member of the house allowed to speak in the chamber as if he were one making mockery and debasing the sanctity of the seat of people’s government.

“It is time worshipping and bowing down to foreigners who come treat us like fools in our own house, must stop as we paid a very high price for that house” he said.

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RTG Mining Inc Presents plans for Panguna Mine

Pacific Mining Watch | March 1, 2019

The RTG mining inc a mining company which has established itself at Panguna with the former miner BCL was for the first time able to table its plan of developing Panguna to Bougainville leaders in Port Moresby.

RTG has been trying to meet with the ABG President, Grand Chief DR. JOHN MOMIS or the Mining Minister or better still the Bougainville Executive Council until yesterday when the BEC and including two members of the National Government, Member for Central Bougainville and former PNG Mining Minister, SAM AKOITAI and the member for South Bougainville and deputy Opposition leader TIMOTHY MASIU were able to make the presentation.

According to RTG’s comprehensive presentation presented by Michael Carrick, RTG Mining INC ‘s chairman, RTC would like to support the Autonomous Bougainville Government to fund the Bougainville Referendum, Provide Financial Support for activities of the ABG to further Bougainville, Provide technical skills and access to capital to develop Panguna and in the process unite all Bougainvilleans.

Several questions were made to the Chairman by the leaders who attended the presentation regarding the presentation of which MR. Carrick was able to answer them all.

The leaders especially the member for Central Bougainville, SAM AKOITAI said that RTG should not bribe the landowners by paying them and the ABG which is the government that will grant them the Mining licence.

He said Government support should only be made through company taxes and licensing fees.

The presentation ended with the leaders agreeing that Bougainvilleans including the landowners should iron out their differences and consider investors who want to work with the ABG and the landowners to develop Panguna.

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All Panguna Mine Landowners United In Opposing BMA

Post Courier | February 25, 2019

The customary landowners from all mine affected areas in and around Panguna – not just the pit area – are 100% united in opposing the controversial draft Bills to change the Bougainville Mining Act (BMA).

The draft Bills would see their rights been stripped, leaving them to try and negotiate with their own Government many years down the track, after they have given up all their rights and ownership of minerals.

Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association Inc chairman Philip Miriori said: “All we are vaguely promised is some form of compensation once mining activity commences.

“Who would do that, give up everything with no deal to look after our people.

“Can you imagine, at that point it will be like us negotiating with Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) again. They will have all the power and we will have none.” He added that this is why they are all united against these changes to the BMA and the architect of this fraudulent attempt to steal from us.

A formal Petition has been signed by all nine landowner associations representing all the land that was impacted in the original Rio Tinto – BCL – Panguna Mine, which operated from 1972-1989.

The mine halted production when Rio Tinto and its subsidiary BCL lost the support of the Panguna landowners and the community.

“We all know what that led to. The Autonomous Bougainville Government is contemplating transferring the control of the Panguna Mine to an unknown Australian entrepreneur who claims he will raise $6 billion for Panguna, when he has never built or run a mine ever before,” Mr Miriori said.

The petition draws the attention of the ABG to no fewer than nine what landowners alleged to be materially false claims of the proposal.

Mr Miriori said the most fatal being the claim of a “permanent 60%” interest for the ABG. “It is ludicrous and simply impossible…he wants us to believe investors will put in 100% of the capital.

They say US$6 billion for 40% of the profits, this is impossible, he added.

SMLOLA special adviser Lawrence Daveona said Rio Tinto had to walk away from Panguna because they lost the support of the community.

“This petition confirms every single member of the Panguna Landowner Association opposes the proposal,” Mr Daveona said.

The signed resolution calls for the immediate withdrawal of the Bill to change the BMA and to try and stop further damage being done to their reputation internationally, Mr Daveona added.

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NGO warns about Bougainville govt’s ‘land grab’

Site of the Panguna mine

Radio New Zealand | 18 February 2019

An NGO has warned that proposed changes by the Autonomous Bougainville Government to local mining laws constitute a reckless land grab.

The government is planning to set up a company to control all new mining on the island.

60 percent of Bougainville Advanced Mining would be owned by the government, while 40 percent would be in the hands of a foreign partner.

In order to do this, the government is seeking to pass amendments to the Mining Act.

Luke Fletcher, the executive director of the NGO Jubilee Australia, said the changes would cut out Bougainville landowners from having a say in mining.

“The principle of free, prior and informed consent is just totally denied to the landowners. Their say is just completely irrelevent. The executive can now essentially be responsible for all parts of the island that are not under lease,” Dr Fletcher said.

Following a public outcry over the plan, the proposed amendments have been referred to a parliamentary committee for further discussion.

Earlier, a number of landowner and community groups voiced alarm that Bougainville’s government was trying to rush through the changes without adequate public consultation.

“It is not clear to us that this legislation is even constitutional,” said Dr Fletcher, who described the government’s proposed changes as a “startling and dangerous move”.

“Given the disastrous history of the Panguna mine in Bougainville, which has caused irreparable environmental damage to the Jaba river and was the major cause of the Pacific region’s worst ever civil war, forcing through such enormous changes with very little consultation is a reckless and desperate ploy.”

Speaking to RNZ Pacific two weeks ago, Bougainville’s President John Momis described the mining deal as the best on the table for his people.

He also suggested the deal was a way to solve Bougainville’s lack of funding for its independence referendum later this year.

But Dr Fletcher said it was unlikely the proposed deal would create revenue through taxes and dividends for Bougainville for a number of years.

“So even if there was some sort of capital investment, that can’t go to the government for general revenue,” he explained.

“That has to be spent by the company on its own needs. So it just doesn’t really make any sense that all this could be useful for the referendum.”

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