Tag Archives: ABG

Mining exploration in Bougainville led by LOs

Cedric Patjole | Loop PNG | January 15, 2018

Landowners in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville are partnering with investors to conduct mineral exploration in areas sanctioned by the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

Prospecting has started since the introduction of legislation allowing landowners complete ownership of customary land, and the lifting of the moratorium on specific localities for mineral exploration.

However, the ABG is making sure the exploration is done in the best interest of the people.

ABG Treasury and Finance Minister, Robin Wilson, said currently there is a moratorium on Panguna Mine due to its history and sensitive nature, which is being carefully addressed.

However, exploration has been allowed in other parts of the island.

“So far we have lifted the moratorium on three areas in Bougainville. That’s Mt Ore, Isina in Central Bougainville and the Arawa-Panguna area,” said the Minister.

“So this are the areas where mining activities are going on, and it is driven by the landowners themselves. It’s not government-driven.

“It’s the landowners and the investors they found and have brought them over.

“We are just making sure the investors are genuine investors. We’re making sure that they are not coming up with contracts or agreements that will make the landowner suffer.”

The Minister said the lead taken by landowners follows legislation giving LOs complete authority and ownership over clearly de ned customary land.

He said by giving the power back to landowners, they can either accept or reject the prospects on their land.

“The landowner now owns everything. In terms of alienated land the government still owns the resources. But where it’s clearly customary land, it is landowner-owned.

“So we believe that by giving the power back to the landowners, the landowners now have a say in whether exploration happens or mining happens,” Wilson said.

“In that way we are not forcing the issue on them. The landowners have to accept the development prospects that happen on their land.”

Wilson revealed that currently the island has been tagged as a high risk area by many international observers.

However, he said with any successful explorations and discovery, this could trigger more investment in future, as the ABG aims to rebuild the island’s local economy.

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BCL share price collapses as investors ditch stock

Bougainville Copper Limited’s share price has collapsed over the last few days, plunging 30% since markets reopened on December 28 after the announcement of a moratorium on mining at Panguna.

The company stock is now trading at 19 Australian cents, more than 50% down on a high of 40 cents in August 2017.

More than 750,000 shares have been traded in just the last four days as investors rush to drop the stock after the Autonomous Bougainville Government announced an indefinite moratorium on mining and rejected an application by BCL to renew its mining licence, saying the company has lost its social licence and citing fears of civil unrest.

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BCL to find a way through the window despite ABG shutting the door

Bougainville Special Correspondent

Bougainville Copper Limited has not relented in the face of the recent shut out by the Momis government through the reimposition of the Moratorium on mining in Bougainville. The blanket moratorium imposed has effectively put an end to any talks on mining on Bougainville until after the referendum in 2019. This shut out has not, however, deterred the company, which convened a meeting in Buka last Thursday and has developed a strategy to counter the move by the legitimate government of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Bougainville Copper Limited will now employ a more radical and very ambitious strategy that includes the very controversial Panguna New Generation Leaders (PNGL). This group includes former fighters paid to lobby for mining and also act as a security group for the company. This group had a fallout with BCL in the recent past due to payment issues and their handling of affairs on the ground which is more of a force than a legitimate landowner group.

The key strategy for BCL is the facilitation of a rogue pro-mining element that has the ability to intimidate and harass civilians, just as happened recently to the Melanesian group that entered Bougainville in August of 2017.

Coupled with that, the company intends to use Village Liaison Officers (VLOs) who will target mainly the areas within BCL tenements in and around Panguna to foster support from the community level. The VLOs are comprised of individuals who are pro-BCL supporters who will liaise for the company to create support on the ground. This group includes individuals from PNGL and a pro-mining chiefs, women and youth.

Despite having the door shut on the contentious issue of reopening Panguna, Bougainville Copper Limited still intends to find a way in, this time through the window.

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ABG concerned reopening Panguna ‘might ignite another war’

President of the autonomous Bougainville government, John Momis. Photo: RNZI

Mining Panguna requires ‘social license’

Radio New Zealand | January 5, 2018

The president of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) says mining companies must win the trust of landowners if they want to operate the Panguna mine.

Last month, President John Momis placed an indefinite moratorium on mining at Panguna after landowners opposed the return of miner Bougainville Copper Limited, or BCL.

The landowners said BCL would not take responsibility for the environmental and social impacts of its previous operation.

BCL ran Panguna until the outbreak of civil war in 1989 in which grievances caused by the mine were central to the 10 year conflict that cost over 20,000 lives.

Mr Momis said to avoid further conflict, Panguna could only be opened with the landowners’ consent.

“Because of our concern that it might ignite another war, we decided, on the recommendation of the Bougainville Mining Council, to impose an indefinite moratorium on mining on Panguna,” he said.

“The mine can recommence, but we have to ensure that whichever company gets the license must be acceptable to the people. In other words it must win the social license.”

The vast Panguna copper and gold mine once generated nearly half of Papua New Guinea’s annual export revenue.

In 2016, mining giant Rio Tinto transferred its controlling stake in BCL to both the PNG government and the ABG, winning support from Mr Momis for BCL to return to Panguna.

But opposition to BCL from the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association was reiterated this week by its chair Philip Miriori, who said it was time for Bougainville to attract a mining partner that would respect the people and make sure they all benefit.

Australian mining company RTG claimed to have the landowners’ backing last month when its chairman Michael Carrick told RNZ Pacific his company was a better option than BCL.

Mr Momis said it was not clear if an Australian company could provide landowners the same benefits as one partly owned by the ABG.

“That may be so but that is not the view of the people of Bougainville. We have a referendum coming up which is important for the ultimate determination of our future and we can’t allow BCL’s involvement in Panguna that may lead to bloodshed,” he said.

“We can’t open the mine in the face of such huge opposition from the people. According to our law, the landowners own the resource, not the government. Until companies win the social license from the landowners they are barking up the wrong tree.”

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Panguna landowners applaud ABG

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

Meredith Kuusa | Loop PNG | January 4, 2018

A landowner’s association has expressed appreciation towards the efforts of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) in giving Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) every opportunity to step up and win landowner support.

The Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA) said as evidenced by the recent warden’s hearing, the landowners for the first time were given the opportunity to speak their mind.

“The hearing clearly showed that BCL does not have the support of the community at large, even after a two- year exploration licence and a further period of nearly 18 months were given,” said SMLOA chairman Philip Miriori.

“We feel the ABG has been more than fair to BCL. However, BCL have not even taken responsibility for the past or offered us any compensation, just lots of broken promises.

“The professionalism of the hearing has brought much hope to our people, where many feel they were being listened to for the first time.”

Miriori acknowledged President John Momis for his prompt response to the warden’s hearing, making the result known on a timely basis to allow for all landowners to come up with a new proposal.

The opposition to BCL was on many fronts. Repeatedly outlined by members, they include:

Legacy issues – both environmental and social impacts

  • BCL not offering compensation for legacy issues
  • The insurmountable liabilities that arise directly from these legacy issues
  • Legal advice that the BCL 2 year exploration licence actually expired 15 months ago on 7th September 2016 but LOs allowed the warden’s hearing process to continue
  • The decade long $6 billion BCL development plan
  • The absence of any meaningful community assistance over the 30 years, in particular over the 2-year term of the BCL exploration licence

Miriori said there is broad support within the Panguna community to re-establish the Panguna mine as most understand that Bougainville requires economic development urgently.

“We simply cannot continue to rely entirely on the PNG Government for handouts,” Miriori said.

“We have done a lot of work in the community over the last couple of years and despite the horrific past, we have been able to show the members that with the right people – people who respect both the environment and the importance of a social license, people with a track record we have seen for ourselves – the mine can be a success for everyone.”

Following the warden’s meeting last month, President Momis announced an indefinite moratorium on exploration and mining in Panguna.

He said the Bougainville Executive Council made a “thoughtful and considered” decision to impose an indefinite reservation moratorium in the best interest of the landowners and the people of Bougainville.

“The voice of the Panguna landowners was clearly heard during the mining warden hearing that decided in a narrow split between those supporting the mine reopening by Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) and the opponents,” said President Momis.

He stated that to develop the mine by any other developer would be “untenable” under current circumstances.

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Bougainville landowners say no return for miner BCL

Bougainville’s Panguna Copper mine

Radio New Zealand | 4 January 2018

The Bougainville landowners association that controls the former copper mine at Panguna says it is pleased the mining company Bougainville Copper Limited, or BCL, will never be welcomed back.

The company operated the mine until the outbreak of civil war in 1989.

BCL, which is part owned by the Autonomous Bougainville Government, had been vying with the Australian company RTG to reopen the mine until last month when the government placed an indefinite moratorium on mining at Panguna.

In a statement, the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association said BCL failed to win community support as it would not take responsibility for the environmental and social impacts of its previous operation, or offer any compensation.

The association’s chair Philp Miriori said it was time for Bougainville to attract a mining partner that would respect the people and make sure they all benefit.

He said there was broad support within the Panguna community to re-establish the mine as it was understood that Bougainville urgently required economic development and could not rely on the Papua New Guinea government for handouts.

“President (John) Momis has said he will now meet with the Panguna Landowners and develop an alternative plan for Panguna and we welcome the opportunity to work with the ABG,” said Mr Miriori.

“We have invested a great deal of time in this agenda over the last couple of years and believe now the road is clear to deliver a solution where all can win and we do not need to look backwards but can focus on the future.”

Last month, RTG claimed to have the association’s backing.

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BCL Panguna extension denied

PNG Industry News |  03 January 2018 

THE Bougainville Executive Council has confirmed that Bougainville Copper Ltd’s application for extension of the term of its expired mining licence at the Panguna copper mine has not received necessary landowners’ consent.

Autonomous Bougainville Government President John Momis said his government would consult with the Panguna landowners on an appropriate arrangement or the best alternative model for the development of the mine.

Until the consultation process is complete, the ABG will impose a moratorium over the grant of new licences for Panguna. 

Under the Bougainville Mining Act, a moratorium can only be implemented if there is no existing exploration licence.

Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association chairman Philip Miriori thanked Momis and the ABG for respecting the association’s opposition to BCL.

“The Panguna community broadly wants the mine to reopen,” he said. 

“We welcome very much the statement of the president that the ABG will consult with the Panguna landowners to determine the best alternative model for the development of Panguna.” 

RTG Mining Inc, the Australian mining company proposing a restart for the abandoned mine, also thanked the ABG for supporting Panguna landowners.

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