Bougainville Mining Act Rejected

Post Courier | February 11, 2019

THE proposed Amendment of the Bougainville Mining Act (BMA) was rejected outright.

It was rejected by the Panguna Landowners, Ex-Combatants, No Mining Groups, Core Team, the eight Association Chairmen of the Mining Affected Areas including the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowner Association (SMLOLA) members and the general public in Arawa who were present at the first attempt to consult on the new Bills – the ABG Consultation with the Panguna Mine Affected Landowners’ meeting, held at the Arawa Youth Centre yesterday.

SMLOLA chairman Martin Miriori said: “There were no answers that could explain or rationalise the attempt to steal our minerals and deny us all our rights under the BMA.

“The Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) Bougainville Executive Council (BEC) presentation was done by the instigators of the plan, ABG Finance and Treasury Minister, Mr Robin Wilson and the Mining Department, headed by the Mining Minister Mr Raymond Masono.

“Why is that, the Bills have been referred to the Legislative Review Committee as it is supposed to be subjected to independent reviews and consultations but there is nothing independent here.”

“They now seem to be trying to go even further, making it very clear that landowners will not have any interest in the mining company.

“The Government will be entitled to hold all the shares, something like Kumul Holdings or MRDC.

“But our law was very carefully drafted to be different to reflect the particular needs and history of Bougainville and its landowners.” Mr Miriori added.

During the presentation, Mr Wilson acknowledged that the SMLOLA’s proposal to the ABG is good but said the Government needs to create this entity through the amendment of the BMA to cater for money going into Government.

In response, Mr Miriori said this makes no sense, the SMLOLA proposal allows the Government to set up a new company and negotiate the deal terms, providing funding directly for the ABG and immediate funding for the Referendum in advance of finalsing documentation.

“There is absolutely no need to push this offensive legislation as the ABG is already being offered a priority position, better than the landowners.”

Mr Miriori further challenged the BEC to demonstrate why landowners should support their plans when it denies them every right that was fundamental to the Peace Agreement, the Constitution and their very autonomy.

“Being told we will give up all their rights with no say and not even one kina of compensation, just a vague promise in the future of something in “one form or another” as the Bill actually says.

“They are suggesting we should just take whatever we are given.

Given the BEC was not able to provide any answers to these very important questions, a resolution by the SMLOLA and Panguna Mine Affected Landowner Associations was then presented to the ABG by Mr Miriori clearly stating the proposed Bills are unfair, unreasonable, unconscionable and unconstitutional.

“If passed they will be challenged and Panguna is delayed indefinitely. “Nobody wins – in fact we all lose.” Mr Miriori added.

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Grandiose promises in Frieda river mine sales pitch

Artist’s impression of the proposed Sepik Development Project at Frieda River. Credit: PanAust

The Exxon-Mobil LNG project promised to transform Papua New Guinea into a middle income country, but those promises ultimately proved to be false. Now Chinese owned PanAust is making similar claims for the Frieda river mine.

Frieda River mine expands into Sepik Development Project

David James | Business Advantage | 11 February 2019

The US$8 billion (K26.5 billion) Sepik Development Project at Frieda River will create ‘a new economic corridor’ in one of PNG’s northwest. Developer PanAust is suggesting it could give employment to about 5000 people during construction and increase Papua New Guinea’s GDP by K90 billion over 40 years.

The Frieda River gold deposit in West Sepik (Sandaun) Province is one of the world’s largest and has been under the control of Frieda River Limited, a subsidiary of PanAust, since 2013. Chinese-owned PanAust holds an 80 per cent interest in the project.

Establishing a gold and copper mine was always going to be a daunting prospect, given the area’s remoteness and lack of infrastructure, which is why PanAust recently announced a major shift in its plans for the project.

Its proposed solution is to turn it into a large scale development project that involves much more than mining.

Hydroelectric

The aim is also to establish a hydroelectric power facility with a generation capacity of up to 490 megawatts of renewable energy to supply both the mine and external customers.

‘It will be PNG’s largest single power generation facility and could operate for more than 100 years—well beyond the mine life of the project,’ Peter Trout, then-Executive General Manager Technical Support and Studies for PanAust, told a mining event late last year.

The installation of a regional power transmission line from the hydroelectric facility is also planned, which could potentially supply Indonesia.

There will also be a major investment in road and port infrastructure, including:

  • an upgrade and expansion of the Port of Vanimo, on the northern coast of PNG
  • an upgrade of a 188km road south from the Port of Vanimo to Green River, and
  • construction of a further 221km road from Green River to Telefomin, including a 350-metre bridge over the Sepik River.

This will enable access to the mine site and the hydropower station.

The cost of this critical enabling infrastructure is estimated to be US$500 million (K1.7 billion) and PanAust expects it to be funded by third parties and shared with other users in the region.

Peter Trout described it as a ‘complex undertaking by virtue of the various dependencies’.

‘The project will require an estimated initial capital investment of US$8 billion (K26.5 billion).’

‘We have adopted an inclusive development approach with broader nation building concepts that align with the government’s lonterm objectives and aspirations.’

Trout said the expanded project will create ‘a new economic corridor’ in the region adjacent to PNG’s border with Indonesia.

Capital investment

The project will require an estimated initial capital investment of US$8 billion (K26.5 billion).

That would make it the second largest investment in Papua New Guinea after the PNG LNG project.

There is a projected mine life of 33 years (revised up in 2018 from 17 years), and a pathway to extend this to 45 years, with average annual production rates of 170,000 tonnes of copper and 230,000 ounces of gold.

‘It will be PNG’s largest single power generation facility and could operate for more than 100 years—well beyond the mine life of the project.’

Trout said the proposed 45-year mine life ‘takes advantage of the facilities that have been established for the initial mine development’.

The project is structured to attract funding from equity investors, financiers and export credit agencies, according to PanAust.

‘The enabling shared-use infrastructure is well suited to public-private partnerships, state-owned enterprises and sovereign funding in the form of grants, concessional loans and infrastructure funds.’

PanAust claims the mine will result in an estimated K90 billion increase in Papua New Guinea’s GDP over 40 years. It estimates total tax, royalty and production levy revenue to the State and landowners at K29 billion.

Ringing the changes

The change in the project’s scope has already seen some major changes to senior management at PanAust, including the departure of Managing Director Fred Hess, Chief Financial Officer Andrew Price and Peter Trout himself.

PanAust’s minority partner in the project looks also set to depart. The remaining 20 per cent stake in Frieda River is held by Highlands Pacific, recently acquired by Canada’s Cobalt 27.

Cobalt 27 has flagged that it will be making its ‘best endeavours’ to enter into a buy-back agreement with PanAust, would allow PanAust become Frieda River’s 100% owner.

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CONTROVERSIAL MINING DEAL THREATENS BOUGAINVILLE UNITY AND REFERENDUM

Politicians with military background and connections get mixed up in a mining bid Arawa, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea

Chris Baria | February 11, 2019

There is a public outcry in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, over the introduction of three controversial mining bills including a bill to make amendments to the current Bougainville Mining Act (BMA) 2015, which ostensibly will strip the landowners of their rights and ownership of the mineral resources, whilst bypassing safeguards, protections, procedures for the landowners.

The amendment bill is also said to contravene Sections 23 and 24 of the Bougainville Constitution that protects rights of Bougainvilleans and recognizes traditional and customary laws and leadership in the mine affected communities. The Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) President John Momis has been convinced by Jeffery McGlinn a little known Australian businessman whose business appears to be dealing in heavy equipment for the mining industry and breeding exotic horse breeds. 

The lack of substantial experience of Mr McGlinn in mining industry has not deterred President Momis from giving his full blessings to a mining proposal by Mr McGlinn’s mining company“Caballus” recently registered in the British Virgin Islands. The proposal which is over simplistic and unrealistic includes the draconian amendments to the BMA and the establishment of a “Special Mining Entity” which has been named “Bougainville Advance Mining” (BAM) and the establishment of “Bougainville Advance Trust Holdings” which will take charge of revenue earned from mining.

What is disturbing about the whole affair is this:

1. Proper Parliamentary procedures and mining requirements were not met by the President and ABG to accept the Caballus as a partner in a mining company, BAM which also has been registered by Jeffery McGlinn already.

2. No consultations with landowners were sought to satisfy the “free, prior, informed consent” (FPIC) which has become a standard requirement in the establishment of any large extraction industry. Instead the proposals by Jeffery McGlinn were bulldozed through and bills are now at first reading with everything happening so fast. 

3. ABG and President Momis wrongly believe that that the USD$150m that Caballus would raise if its proposal was given the nod would go to ABG as spending money for referendum and other matters. However, these according to Jeffery McGlinn are what start up costs amount to and first part of it would be expended on several due diligences studies on the mineral asset at Panguna. 

4. The proposal by Jeffery McGlinn bears uncanny resemblance and appears to be a blueprint of a leaked document purportedly written for ABG by former Australian Defence Minister David Johnston who is also Western Australian like Jeffery McGlinn. Shortly, after receiving the report, President Momis cancelled BCL’s renewed bid to obtain mining licenses to reopen Panguna because according the report by Johnston which was written in 2017 “BCL had lost it’s social license”.

All in all, there appears to be a serious breach of the Bougainville Peace Agreement by meddlesome politicians Belden Namah connected with Caballus and former Australian Defense Minister, David Johnston, both with military background, according to some may well be acting in the interest of their respective governments in a deliberate attempt to undermine Bougainville’s referendum and it’s bid to gain independence from Papua New Guinea.

David Johnstone is currently the Chairman of Kalia Mining Limited which is carrying out mineral explorations at Mt Tore also in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

The move by Momis to install Caballus as a partner in a“pre-fabricated” mining company which is to be authorized through bills drafted on Australian soil by lawyers for Caballus has taken many ordinary ABG members by surprise and shocked by Mr McGlinn’s presence in the chamber which is out of bounds to foreigners and business dealings.

Members of ABG stand divided over mining issues centred around Caballus, with some members furious over what they view as attempts to amend BMA 2015 for Caballus’ own interests.

The Chairman of Panguna Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang (SMLOLA), Mr. Phillip Miriori has called on both Australian and Papua New Guinea governments to allow the due processes set out in the Bougainville Peace Agreement to achieve their aims and goals of peace, unity and security in the region by not allowing corporate interests in mining and other resource extraction to interfere with such processes by dividing up the people through payment of bribes and accosting ex-combatant support with a view to suppress ordinary people’s right to speak out and exercise their rights.

“We are not opposed to investors seeking investment opportunities here but they must abide by our laws and show respect to our government and not try to manipulate our laws to suit their own interests”, Mr Miriori said.

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TRICK OR TREAT? The attempt by Jeffery McGlinn and Caballus Mining to hijack mining prospects in Bougainville

The abandoned Panguna mine

Chris Baria | February 10, 2019 

Today the people of Arawa, landowners, women, ex-combatant core group, and“no mining” Bougainville hardliners milled into the Sharps Memorial Youth Centre, Arawa, to be“educated” by the Bougainville Executive Council (BEC) on the finer points of mining and controversial amendments to the once controversial Bougainville Mining Act 2015 (BMA) that is yet to be industry tested.

One wonders why such an entourage as BEC has found it necessary to carry out “consultations” on such unpopular bills which have drawn stiff opposition throughout wider sections of the community.

Today, the Finance Minister Robin Wilson and the Vice President and Mining Minister, Raymond Masono spoke out against what they called misinformation and misconceptions in social media that were causing so much confusion about the new mining bills, and the bill to effect amendments to the existing BMA 2015. They said that the amendment to the BMA 2015 were necessary to give more benefits to the resource owners than what the current mining act can provide them.

Their attempt to illustrate the benefits of tampering with the BMA, via PowerPoint presentation, did very little to allay our fears as we were already aware of the sections in the BMA 2015 that were subject to draft amendment by lawyers acting on behalf of Jeffery McGlinn and Caballus Mining. Not only is our law subject to tampering by foreign elements but our ‘mama’ law, the constitution, is affected.

We the people who are preparing to vote on a referendum express our desire to be an independent nation feel violated.

Recently, ABG linked up with a little known mining company that was only registered not long ago in the British Virgin Islands. It appears that“Caballus” mining is owned by Jeffery McGlinn from Perth in Western Australia.

This man McGlinn, whom we know very little about apart contradictory tales of his recently registered company’s experience in working with indigenous people and traditional leaders, has sold a scam to ABG and ABG has swallowed it hook line and sinker. In a very simplistic proposal that omitted the complexities of a mining venture and the “dog-eat-dog” world of business enterprise, Jeffery McGlinn has shaken the house and dazzled it’s gullible occupants. His top card is a fantastic shareholding cut between him and his creation, BAM [Bougainville Advance Mining] that puts Noah Musingku and U-Vistract to shame. “BAM” in Tokpisin means head on collision. As a matter of fact it may well be on collision course with our sanity.

Back at the Youth Centre I was yearning for some excitement to lightened up the dull boring discussions when Hon. Robin Wilson’s man stoked up the projector to show us the workings of BAM.

He continued to tell us how the landowner would get more than what the currently Bougainville Mining Act 2015 provided for and how wonderful it is for Bougainville to have it’s own mining company. He spilled the the secrets of how BAM was going to create an economic miracle for Bougainville and give it a mining company and not rely on foreign companies and white people to come take what rightfully belongs to us.

The decision to butcher the Bougainville Mining Act was conceived by Jeffery McGlinn for the Dodos in ABG and it’s Administration under the pretext of “better benefits” for landowners. The Mining Act is not about better benefits. It should be about the protection of the human rights of the indigenous people of Bougainville which are not interchangeable with monetary benefits.

My question is how much of what was presented in PowerPoint can we say is from within us and our vision? On the one Hon. Wilson tells us not to woo white folk and then on the other hand he presents an idea, not of his own creation but what a smooth talking white dude gave him and the words he breath into good member’s mouth. The idea of Bougainville’s own Mining company and it’s ability to serve the government and it’s people seem quite attractive but what is the price tag on it?

How naïve can our leaders to keep collecting prefabricated nonsense? Despite many of them being educated they still cannot differentiate between what is real and what is fantasy, simply because they don’t bother to check on who they are dealing with in the first place.

This brings up another issue, the capacity of the Autonomous Bougainville Government or any other Bougainville government established to replace it after referendum, and the capability of it’s administration to manage and regulate the impact of a large scale mining operation in the region. Since its inception the Autonomous Bougainville Government has establish a string of businesses and partnerships with the Chinese that leaves us wondering as to how these companies are faring as ABG’s money spinners.

The biggest horror story in this issue is the taking away of landowners rights and privileges and put them under a trust company that is to be controlled by ABG under a section of the BMA. The ABG has not right whatsoever to tamper with landowners’ inalienable rights. When governments become corrupt and tyrannical the “trust” between landowners and government embodied in the trust company is endangered. We see this kind of arrangement which is similar to PNG Sustainable Fund in which landowner monies are either locked in or stolen by politicians already but whatever the reason landowners have no access to their funds.

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Bougainville govt’s mining deal meets widespread opposition

Local residents hold banners and placards during a 2018 protest at the former Bougainville Copper Limited’s Panguna mine. | Photo: Reuters

Radio New Zealand | 8 February 2019 

There’s been community outrage in Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville region at the local government’s new mining plan.

The autonomous government of Bougainville is planning to re-open the long shut Panguna copper mine and operate it with a company majority owned by Bougainville.

It is expected to pass amendments to the Mining Act to accommodate the Australian investor who will jointly own Bougainville Advance Mining.

Johnny Blades has been following the reaction to this development in Bougainville.

JOHNNY BLADES: The plan comes after squabbling over who should get the licence for the Panguna mine, which of course has been mothballed for a long time.  There’s been a government moratorium on any Panguna development because it’s all so sensitive around this impending the referendum on independence coming up this year. But the Bougainville President John Momis has described this deal with the Australian investor as the best deal for landowners, also saying that existing companies already mining in Bougainville would not be affected by this new deal. But this company, Caballus Mining, owned by West Australian businessman Jeff McGlinn, has no public profile to speak of in the industry.

DG: So the president of the autonomous Bougainville government, John Momis, he earlier told RNZ Pacific that PNG’s central government is not stumping up with funding for the independence referendum, and they in turn have been on the urgent look-out for funds. Is he just turning to this investor or this deal to fund the referendum?

JB: He seems to be saying that, that this is something they have to take up because of this urgent need for money. But one of the principal landowner groups in this area, the Osikaiyang Landowners Association has said that Caballus has no assets but is demanding a monopoly on all major large scale mining projects in Bougainville. There are questions over the viability of finance for these mining plans. They suspect this is a con job, that Momis and his government are being taken for a ride here. Lawrence Daveona, one of the association’s people, he said some of the ex-combatants on Bougainville had met with this investor Jeff McGlinn and asked him ‘are you able to give the government money?’ and he reportedly said to them no, he has no money. So it seems a bit fanciful to think that the investor or this deal might fund the referendum.

DG: There was a public forum to dicscuss this issue in Arawa. What was the general feedback?

JB: The community is upset that local parliamentarians seem to be rushing changes to the Mining Act through without proper public consultation. They says that you have to have proper public consultation before any social license is granted, so to speak. There’s a group called the Bougainville Hardliners Group. They have warned that sort of foreign control of mining on Bougainville is what caused the island’s civil war in the first place. So they and others are certainly opposed to diving headlong into this deal as Monmis and his government seem to be doing.

DG: Historically of course, Bougainville Copper Limited has been behind the scenes of the Panguna mine, What’s been their reaction to this?

JB: Unsurprisingly, BCL have come out very strongly against this deal. They’ve got their own agenda to push, of course. Let’s not forget that the moratorium on mining at Panguna was centrally because landowners oppose the return of BCL. But in this case, both landowners and community groups appear to agree with BCL that this deal seems to be risky. There are constitutional and ethical questions around it. And more widely, these bills are being interpreted as both anti-competitive and anti-investment which BCL and others are saying is the last thing Bougainville needs.

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Miriori fires broadside at ‘rogue’ Bougainville mining rights bid

The Bougainville Civil War caused incredible devastation and loss, including this picture taken at the ruins of Arawa Hospital in 1997. Photo: AFP

Asia Pacific Report | Pacific Media Centre | February 9, 2019

A highly controversial proposal by an unknown and newly registered company, Caballus Mining, is attempting to grab a monopoly over all large scale mines in Bougainville, reports PNG Mine Watch.

It is alleged that the Caballus plan is to override the fundamental principle of the Bougainville Mining Act – Customary Landowner ownership of the minerals in Bougainville and confer ownership on a McGlinn entity, Bougainville Advance Mining (BAM).

“Are Caballus the next rogue that is trying to take advantage of us, the customary owners and steal our minerals?” asked Philip Miriori, chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA).

Miriori claimed Caballus had no relevant mine development experience.

“Caballus has no assets, and yet is demanding a monopoly on all major large scale mining projects in Bougainville.

“They are demanding an initial 40 percent interest, which will increase further over time, without any upfront cash and only a shallow promise of future money if he is granted those rights first.”

Miriori said that when Caballus was presented to representatives of SMLOLA earlier last year, they were officially rejected in writing.

Clear position
“This is where it gets confusing as despite that clear position from the owners of the minerals at Panguna, Caballus is now demanding that the most fundamental principle of the Bougainville Mining Act (BMA) – customary ownership will now be stripped from the BMA.”

SMLOLA special adviser Lawrence Daveona said that by avoiding all the protection afforded to them under the BMA, which is fundamental to the Peace Agreement and the Bougainville constitution – “in fact the very grant of autonomy”, they would be stripped of their rights.

“The central tenant of our Peace Agreement is good governance.

“We will fight this to the end and hope our ABG will step in first and protect all customary owners in Bougainville.”

Miriori said it appeared some people were trying to take advantage of a severe funding crisis which their government faced in the lead up to the referendum on Bougainville this year. They were promising money but only if they were first given the keys to every large scale mine in Bougainville with zero up-front investment – “unbelievable”.

“Whoever puts up the money will ultimately control BAM, and all of Bougainville’s mines.”

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ISA and United Nations selling experimental seabed mining to Pacific island governments

A bulk-cutter designer for seabed mining

How can efforts to ’conserve and sustainably use the oceans’ be so seamlessly co-opted as a cover for efforts to promote the mining of the seabed?

Unfortunately international agencies like the UN are masters are such deceits and have no regard for the views of Pacific Island people who are vehemently opposed to the exploitation of the seabed…

Pacific small island developing states capacity building on deep seabed mining

International Seabed Mining | 7 February 2019

The International Seabed Authority (ISA) and the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) will hold a regional training and capacity building workshop for Pacific Small Island Developing States (P-SIDS) on deep seabed mining in Nuku’alofa, Kingdom of Tonga, from 12 to 14 February 2019. 

The workshop is being held as part of the joint ISA-UNDESA ‘Abyssal initiative for Blue Growth,’ one of the seven Voluntary Commitments made by ISA at the UN Ocean Conference in 2017 to advance implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14) to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources  (#OceanAction16538).

High-level representatives from P-SIDS and experts in deep seabed mining and marine science will gather at the workshop to discuss the potential benefits [but not the potential impacts] of increased participation of P-SIDS in deep-sea related activities, and how to ensure that the people in the region will fully benefit from such activities. 

Held over three-days, the workshop will feature sessions on: the status of deep seabed mining activities in the Pacific; the roles and responsibilities of sponsoring States; the legal regime for marine scientific research and environmental management of resources. It is also envisaged that through this workshop, it will be possible to identify better the specific capacity-building needs of P-SIDS in regards to deep seabed mineral related activities.

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