Post Courier | June 21, 2019
One of the world’s leading mining lawyers, Michael Hunt, an advisor to the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA), has issued a stinging attack on the statement which attempted to justify the proposed changes to the Bougainville Mining Act (BMA).
The changes were rejected by the Bougainville Parliamentary Committee on Legislation last week (read the full legal assessment).
This statement was a submission to that committee lodged by Minister Wilson and was published on June 19, 2019.
Mr Hunt said, the Statement, entitled “Interpreting Part 17 of the BMA”, “pretends to explain the Bougainville Mining Act (Amendment) Bill 2019 (Bill) in laymen’s terms but in reality, it is a false and misleading manifesto riddled with errors.”
Mr Hunt categorically confirmed that the proposed amendments would actually abolish all of the landowners’ rights relating to any application by the company 40% of which will be owned by McGlinn’s Caballus Mining and other foreign investors.
He added that all the provisions in Parts 1 to Part 16 of the BMA which protect the rights of landowners are over-ridden by the stroke of a pen in Part A of the Bill.
The confiscation of the landowners’ property and rights under the Bill is “unreasonable, unfair and unconstitutional.” said Mr Hunt in his formal legal opinion.
Mr Hunt confirmed the view previously expressed by SMLOLA: that the Bill “effectively confers a near monopoly on one company over exploration and mining on Bougainville”.
Mr Miriori, the Chairman of the SMLOLA further questioned how it was possible that they got the interpretation of the amending legislation so grossly incorrect?
“Why was Parliament misled? Something profoundly wrong is going on here,” he added.
The Parliamentary Committee reported that the normal practices and safeguards were sidestepped.
Mr Hunt is an Australian legal practitioner, who has written the authoritative book, Mining Law in Western Australia (the fifth edition of which was published in October 2015), the “Energy and Resources” volume of Halsbury’s Laws of Australia and the book Minerals and Petroleum Laws of Australia.
Mr Hunt has been recognised nationally and internationally as a leading mining lawyer, regularly named as such in legal market surveys. He was named in both Chambers Global Guide and Chambers Asia Pacific, putting him amongst the world’s top mining lawyers. Chambers’ review reports: “Michael Hunt is regarded as Western Australia’s pre-eminent expert on mining law.”
In 1987 he conducted a public inquiry into PNG’s mining laws on a commission from the PNG government. His comprehensive recommendations for reform were incorporated into entirely new mining legislation, the Mining Act 1992. The BMA is obviously based in part on the PNG Mining Act 1992.