Tag Archives: Belden Namah

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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Mysterious Australian Businessman Swoops on Bougainville’s Minerals

A recent Caballus Mining meeting on Bougainville

News reports suggest a mysterious Australian businessman, Jeffrey McGlinn, is the sponsor of a major amendment to Bougainville’s Mining Act. McGlinn is said to be behind the company Caballus Mining, and is proposing to set up a local firm, Bougainville Advance Mining or BAM.

According to Radio New Zealand, the McGlinn group ‘wanted to shortcut a number of what it calls complicated requirements in the [Mining] act to fast track vital infrastructure development in Bougainville and boost employment ahead of the referendum on independence from PNG, due in June this year’.

A major report from the ground, included below, has gone so far as to suggest the McGlinn consortium plans to seize control of all major mineral deposits across Bougainville.

If true, this appears to be yet another scheme cooked up by the Momis government with foreigners, to make quick bucks under the banner of independence preparations. 

Worryingly, McGlinn it can be confirmed, is linked to a Somali national, Mr Qamar Khan, aka Stephen Khan, who is a close affiliate of Belden Namah. McGlinn acted as a Director in a company owned by Mr Qamar Khan, AUSPNG Holdings Limited. Khan sold the company to Siniwok Limited in 2015. Siniwok is owned by Beldan Namah. Mr Khan was also a Director at Siniwok Limited.

This comes after Beldan Namah was recently rumored to have travelled to Bougainville for talks with President Momis.

McGlinn also heads the firm Caballus Excellence. The latter boasts

“A whole world and even more, is everything that Caballus Excellence World selects for the lifestyle of its members that have chosen excellence in their daily lives: from the refinement of taste in food, to reception in the most prestigious hotels, from luxury shopping online, to services reserved for art collectors, from travel by carjet and yacht to the most exclusive destinations. This is our tribute to the elegance of the good life”. 

If the below communique is accurate, it appears a small few may see ‘the elegance of the good life’ courtesy of this amendment to the Mining Act, but the many on Bougainville will suffer.

Proposed ABG Legislation to bypass LOs in SML allocation – Report from Bougainville

This is the proposal that ABG is seeking Legislate in the coming week. There is no work, let alone consultation done to drive the legislative changes to BMA to accommodate Caballus (a mining company in partnership with ABG)

We must oppose it for the following reasons among others;

1. Caballus is suggesting amending legislation to completely side step all the safeguards, protections, procedures, and ownership rights, including the Customary Owners ownership provided for in the Bougainville Mining Act.

Here you have a foreigner, who is trying to secure a significant personal interest, recommending the ABG strip the rights and ownership of the Customary Owners of Bougainville.

Further this special vehicle (BAM) will be the only entity to which Special Mining Licences in Bougainville can be issued. It seeks to bypass the Mining department and the ABG administration.

It covers all SML’s not only Panguna and effectively nationalises every SML- Mining Project and gives one man, Jeff McGlinn a 40% interest in every SML on Bougainville.   

2 – final point, makes it clear the ABG’s interest is dilutive, so it does not have a non dillutive interest. Jeff McGlinn will arrange for the distribution of new shares to other investors. This mean Jeff McGlinn and his investors will personally control every mine in AROB, not the AGB and not the LO’s. It removes the LO’s direct ownership in the mining project, and right of veto over EL and SML’s.

It is not as Jeff McGlinn says a “slight change” but a draconian change which takes away all the LO’s rights and ownership, and places them in the hands of one man Jeff McGlinn, and the ABG.

The Caballus proposal does not say they are raising US$150m for the ABG for it to use, at its discretion eg the referendum costs.

3. Jeff McGlinn has to be given title first (he will try and raise the funds only after all approvals have been given). Caballus will then only “assist” the ABG with an initial capital raising. So McGlinn gets title first, only then does he “try” or “assist the ABG” to raise the money. In fact no guarantee, only a vague promise to “assist” the ABG to raise money. Again it’s not the ABG’s money but BAM’s money.

So if he fails to raise the money. He still walks away with the title (40%) for nothing. So he is asking for the titles of all mines, only for a promise to “assist” with raising money.

4. says he is going to raise money from Sovereign States (and private investors). Note the investors will be foreign countries. This gives rise to all sorts of national security and independence issues for the ABG. Foreign Governments directly controlling Bougainville’s most strategic asset.

5. says the US$150m raising will be for the purpose of funding for the mine-Pre-construction and pre-operation. The first stage funding will be circa US$150m to commence the bankable feasibility study. This is not and will not be the ABG’s money therefore. As the ABG currently believes.

It suggests the US$150m will be for new shares in Bougainville Advance Mining (BAM). The money therefore will be BAM’s and will be used for the above (point 14) specific purposes, not the ABG’s personal use.

Further the very initial or starting deal is 60/40, but the proposal is absolutely unclear as to what % the investors who put up US$150m get, and what % the ABG will be left with. It appears everyone gets diluted pro rata but completely unclear. 

There is definitely on guaranteed minimum floor for the ABG.

6. Role of ABG. 2nd last Point. The ABG will distribute, administer, and maintain the BAM shareholding for Traditional Owners – not the Customary Owners themselves. The Landowners will not have a direct project interest (and therefore direct access to cash), as the current Bougainville Mining Act provides, with direct access and control over their share of the cash generation.

7. Use the income to rebuild Bougainville (infrastructure and facilities) This is illusionary and highly misleading. ABG will only have ultimately a minority interest in the shares of BAM- not a direct project interest. It will only get a dividend if BAM declares and pays a dividend. They cannot control that decision. If the BAM Board wants to retain the cash for expansions or new developments, there will be no cash for the ABG. The ABG will not have a direct share of project profits and revenue.

Hopelessly simplistic and misleading. No provision for independent directors. Everyone is an executive director.

No directors either representing the investors putting up the supposed US$150m or capital thereafter. This is just not possible.

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The Mining Boom in Papua New Guinea goes Boom

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East Asia Forum via Economy Watch

The Papua New Guinea (PNG) government has finally admitted that PNG’s revenue surge has ended. As long as PNG’s mining boom lasted, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill could build parliamentary support by allocating constituency funds to each member of parliament’s (MP) district. So how will restricted funds impact upon O’Neill’s political position and the stability of the government?

O’Neill’s majority currently stands at a seemingly impregnable 100 of the 111 MPs. But the cost of the 15 million Kina (US$5 million) allocated to district MPs in 2015 has meant that he has been unable to deliver landmark policies such as subsidising schooling and free primary healthcare. With district funds now cut by a third and expenditures slashed, 2016 will test whether O’Neill can maintain his current political dominance or whether economic stresses and legal challenges will become political crises.

For most of 2015, as in 2014, PNG politics centred on O’Neill’s financial actions. Allegations of poor governance have become the basis of legal cases that, hypothetically, could lead to his dismissal. Despite O’Neill’s apparent supremacy, these issues dominated public comment throughout 2015; associated cases could place the judiciary in conflict with the executive — as happened in 2011–12.

In early 2014, the government took out a US$1.2 billion loan from UBS bank to buy shares in oil and gas company Oil Search, but failed to seek the necessary approval of parliament. Treasurer Don Polye refused to sign off on the borrowing and he was sacked. He now leads the small opposition.

The loan (via a near-bankrupt state-owned enterprise) has drawn criticism because the shareholding creates a conflict of interest, given that the state is the national regulator. In 2015, the Ombudsman Commission urged the public prosecutor to make O’Neill face a leadership tribunal for poor governance, a case he is still fighting.

A second financial matter involved the payment, allegedly on O’Neill’s instruction, of 72 million Kina (about US$24 million) to Paraka Lawyers for unauthorised invoices. In mid-2014, the then police commissioner refused to exercise a court-issued arrest warrant against the prime minister. O’Neill is also fighting this case in court.

The case has led to factionalism within the police. The former police commissioner was replaced and sentenced to three years in prison for contempt of court. In addition, O’Neill defunded the Investigative Task Force Sweep, which had gained several major convictions, though many of its cases investigating alleged corruption are continuing.

The fluidity of PNG’s political parties, and the resulting shakiness of its governments, is notorious. In the hope of creating some stability, since 1991 the constitution has prevented a vote of no confidence for a ‘grace’ period of 18 months after a prime minister is elected. In 2013, O’Neill persuaded his well-funded MPs to extend the ‘grace’ period to 30 months.

This amendment was challenged as unconstitutional by then opposition leader, Belden Namah. In a unanimous decision on 4 September 2015, the Supreme Court found the 2013 restrictions on votes of no confidence were unconstitutional.

The decision may be a case of the Court reasserting itself after the bruising it received in December 2011 and in 2012 when the O’Neill government twice defied the court’s rulings that O’Neill’s parliamentary takeover was unconstitutional and Sir Michael Somare was still legally prime minister.

Two more ongoing legal cases could have a major impact on PNG politics in 2016. One case is an opposition challenge to the government’s blocking of two attempted votes of no confidence in late 2015.

Another pending case, led by MP Belden Namah, challenges the constitutionality of the incarceration without charge of nearly a thousand asylum seekers in PNG, who are held at the behest and expense of the Australian government.

The detention arrangement receives little publicity in PNG but it is quite clear that the PNG government is reluctant to resettle more than a few of the hundreds deemed ‘genuine refugees’. The Australia–PNG regional processing centre on Manus Island has received widespread international criticism, especially at the UN Human Rights Council.

It is possible that the Supreme Court could rule the entire project unconstitutional — just as it did with Australia’s Enhanced Cooperation Program in 2005. If Namah’s case fails, there will be another constitutional challenge alleging human rights abuses at the detention centre led by lawyer Ben Lomai on behalf of over 200 asylum seekers.

The PNG state — including the often undisciplined and violent police — lacks effective control of much of the country. O’Neill is under constant criticism for his government’s failure to deliver basic services and meet any of the UN’s Millennial Development Goals. O’Neill seems defensive and accuses critics of opposing the national interest.

He has also moved to restrict international oversight, banning two Australian journalists and passing a government edict that requires all foreign advisers be contracted to and controlled by the PNG government as of 1 January 2016. There have been some tensions in relations with Australia, and the edict will likely rupture some aid programs.

PNG’s government rushed the 2016 budget through in November, and then adjourned parliament for four months. A vote of no confidence is possible until early August, but not likely — PNG politicians have a talent for withdrawing from the brink of crisis. Further, PNG is already gearing up for the 2017 elections.

Opposition Leader Polye warned about early campaigning, saying ‘If these trends continue, I am afraid our country is on the verge of kleptocracy’. Despite the prevalence of ‘money politics’, some 60 percent of sitting MPs usually lose out in national elections.

How PNG’s money politics plays out in the context of restricted funds and persistent legal challenges will help shape domestic politics in 2016. It could well be a turbulent year.

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Namah calls for change to Mining Act

The National aka The Loggers Times

OPPOSITION leader Belden Namah wants to repeal the Mining Act for the benefit of landowners in project areas.

He recently told reporters in Bulolo, Morobe, that it was wrong for the Government to be the regulator and shareholder at the same time not only in mining and petroleum projects but in forestry, fishery and agriculture.

He wants the law amended to stop that.

Namah said the law was adopted from Australia where the State owned the land. He said this was not suitable for Papua New Guinea where the land was owned by the people.

He said a good example was the state of Bulolo and other mining districts which had not seen any changes in the many years of mining activities.

“When the Government takes up shares in the projects, it can’t be a fair regulator,” he said.

“The Government is playing the role of the investment partner and regulator and I believe the entire Mining Act should be repealed.

“I will push for the change in law so that the State should not be a shareholder in any major project. The State must only be the regulator and make laws and collect taxes. Only the landowner must partner the developer.

“Our resource is our collateral and the resource owner must be the direct participant in the project. How can the State say it will hold shares on behalf of the resource owners?”

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Namah hails move by Ok Tedi landowners

Post Courier 

The Opposition yesterday said it welcomes the historical lead taken by Ok Tedi Mine affected landowners to reclaim what has been lost or denied of them as landowners by the Government and the Ok Tedi Mining Ltd.

The court action is a head start for affected land owners and communities around the country to getting justice through the courts against the Government and the extractive industry.

In a press statement,  Opposi-tion leader Belden Namah said;

“Our reaction to the case before the National Court is this. We have adopted a stupid system where the state has got itself tangled up in Mining and Hydrocarbon developments as a shareholder as well as a regulator.  When a government becomes an investor in a project, it places itself in a conflict of interest and easily compromises the interests and welfare of the people that it is supposed to protect or promote.”

He said by becoming a shareholder the government cannot be an independent umpire any more.

“The glaring and shameful environmental disaster seen at the Bougainville copper mine and at Ok Tedi, are proof.

“It is testimony of ignorance and neglect of people’s welfare by successive Governments of Papua New Guinea.

“Our natural environment is destroyed beyond repair and our people’s dependence on the natural environment for their survival is completely gone,” said Mr Namah.

He said the result is that the people are left vulnerable to life threatening problems such as hunger, diseases, poisoning and reduced economic opportunities.

He said the second reason why the present system is stupid is because the system is lopsided, in that the benefits sharing favors the developers many fold over, than landowners and the Government put together.

“The resources, which are by right owned by the land or resource owners and the state, is transferred to the developer at no cost, by way of the government granting a lease to the developer,” he said.

“Then the government pays for a piece of the share in the resource which we already own, and worse still, government takes up shares to the exclusion of land owners and other PNG investors.”

Mr Namah said in the end, the total take for the government and people of PNG is negligible compared to what the investor takes out.

“As a matter of fact, we are the biggest losers,” he said.

“We devastate and lose our natural environment through pollution, we pay for a piece of what is already ours, and we get very little for what is God given.

“Also, the value of our resources is excluded from supporting our currency, as a result of which we import inflation through a trade based system.”

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New Twist In Ok Tedi drama: PNGSDP registers arbitration case

Martyn Namorong | Namorong Report

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They say it aint over until the fat lady sings and the battle over the giant Ok Tedi Copper Gold mine in the Star Mountains of Western Papua New Guinea has taken another new twist.

The Chairman of the Papua New Guinea Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP), Sir Mekere Morauta today announced that the company has registered its dispute with the PNG Government with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

Sir Mekere said PNGSDP is seeking restitution of the 63.4 percent of Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) illegally expropriated by the State, or failing that, compensation for the shares.

“The State’s expropriation of the shares through the 10th Supplemental Agreement Act last year, without compensation, is in breach of international law,” he said.

With the filing of the case with the ICSD, it is expected that a tribunal of three eminent international jurists will set up by the ICSD, in consultation with PNGSDP and the Government. The tribunal is expected to be set up by the middle of this year with hearings expected later.

Meanwhile, Fly River landowners from the South Fly District of Western Province have successfully obtained a court order restraining OTML from dumping mine wastes and tailings into the Ok Tedi Fly River Catchment. The court also ordered the payment of K45 million to the landowners to fund independent scientific research into the health and environmental impacts of the Ok Tedi Mine and pay for legal costs.

Despite the court order, it is understood that the Ok Tedi mine continues to operate as the court orders have not been served on the Tabubil Headquartered Company.

The landowners actions have received support from the Opposition Leader Belden Namah.

“This Court action is a head start for affected land owners and communities around the country to getting justice through the Courts against the Government and the Extractive Industry.

Our reaction to the case before the National Court is this. We have adopted a stupid system where the state has got itself tangled up in Mining and Hydrocarbon developments as a shareholder as well as a regulator. When a government becomes an investor in a project, it places itself in a conflict of interest and easily compromises the interests and welfare of the people that it is supposed to protect or promote,” Namah said.

Namah also took a swipe at Prime Minister O’Neill for comments made against the court ruling.

“For the Prime Minister to say, “I hope the courts generally understand the consequences of the claims they are hearing. We don’t just rely on the courts to uphold the law; we rely on the courts to appreciate the consequences of their decisions and rulings”, is in effect suggesting to the Courts not to dispense justice but to support political and economic expediencies of government,” he added.

In 2012, Ok Tedi Mining Limited had total net assets worth K2.6 billion. It’s Managing Director, Nigel Parker described the year 2013 as “just like a tiger”. Last year Ok Tedi suffered operational failures at its mill and mine pit and had to be closed for months on end. Parker also revealed that production for 2013 was around 100 000 tonnes of copper compared to 146 000 tonnes the previous year. Sales from Ok Tedi were also affected when a major buyer in the Philippines was affected by Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Uncertainty brews over the future of the mine, once regarded as World Class copper gold producer. With mine life extension, there is expected to be a smaller mine however the expectations from its various stakeholders run higher than the mountain peaks of the Star Mountains. The mist that shrouds the mine located up in the cloud-lands of Western Province painting a rather ominous sign of the unpredictable path that lies ahead for the mine that underpins PNG’s economy.

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PNG’s Ok Tedi mine still operating as court papers yet to be served

Radio New Zealand

The Giant Ok Tedi mine in Papua New Guinea is still operating as normal because it is yet to be served formal court orders that were made by the National Court on Friday.

Lawyers for the plaintiff have told the Post Courier they were having difficulties in serving the orders but they would be served today.

The National Court ordered OTML to stop dumping waste into the Fly River system – a move that would effectively shut down the mine.

The court also ordered that company bank accounts be frozen after allegations were made that money earmarked for local development had been misused.

Meanwhile the opposition leader, Belden Namah, has hailed the court decision as a win for the landowners whose lives have been adversely affected by the pollution from the mine.

He says the decision is a reminder developers must adhere to PNG’s environmental laws.

He also blasted the O’Neill government for taking over OTML saying it was greedy.

He says the state and the government should be independent and only play the role of regulator and tax collector.

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