Tag Archives: Bougainville Advance Mining

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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Proposed Bougainville Mining Act changes go to committee

Radio New Zealand | 15 February 2019

Proposed changes to Bougainville’s Mining Act have been referred to a parliamentary committee for further discussion.

The Autonomous Bougainville Government’s proposed the changes which have met with widespread opposition as the region prepares for a referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea.

The government last month divulged its plans to re-open the long shut Panguna copper mine and operate it with a company majority owned by Bougainville.

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

The Bougainville Advance Mining Holdings Trust Authorisation Bill, the Bougainville Advance Mining Holdings Limited Authorisation Bill, and a bill to amend the Bougainville Mining Act 2015, have all gone through first readings.

However, after community concern over the proposed amendments, the bills were referred to the Legislative Review Committee.

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Proposed Bougainville mining laws a ‘reckless land grab’, says Jubilee Australia

Panguna mine in operation, circa 1971 (Photo: Robert Owen Winkler/Wikimedia Commons)

Jubilee Australia | February 12, 2019

 Over the last two weeks, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), led by its president the Reverend Dr John Momis, has announced its intention to amend Bougainville mining laws.

The proposed amendments to the 2015 Bougainville Mining Act, along with accompanying legislation, will give the ABG the power to hand over mining leases to all parts of the island not under existing leases to Bougainville Advanced Mining, a new entity created for this purpose. The ABG would have 60% ownership of Bougainville Advanced Mining, while 40% would be owned by a foreign partner.

Statements made by the President last week suggest that Caballus mining, a Perth-based company headed by Jeff McGlinn, will be the foreign partner involved.  

‘These are radical changes and appear to be nothing more than a reckless land grab,’ said Dr Luke Fletcher, Executive Director of Jubilee Australia. ‘First, this would hand over control of the majority of the island to the President and his foreign partner, Mr McGlinn.

‘Second, the President would have the power to unilaterally distribute leases without any consultation or permission from landowners. As a result, landowners will be cut out of the process. These amendments undermine the principal of Free, Prior and Informed Consent, said Dr Fletcher. ‘Doing so is both anathema to Melanesian culture and vitally important in the Bougainville context.’

‘It is not clear to us that this legislation is even constitutional,’ said Dr Fletcher. ‘It is 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.’

Comments made by the President to Radio New Zealand justified the move based on the need to hold the Bougainville independence referendum: ‘The people of Bougainville are determined to have the referendum and they must find the money to fund the referendum,’ the President said. ‘One way of doing it would be if we started our own company and generated the revenue to enable us to conduct the referendum. We cannot sit on our hands.’

‘As our recent study of the question demonstrates, we are highly dubious that mines like Panguna could ever raise enough revenues to satisfy both foreign investors and the people of Bougainville,’ said Dr Fletcher.

‘It is certainly impossible that the mine will raise any revenues before the independence vote. It will take years for the building/repair of infrastructure, the completion of environmental studies and other importance processes that need to take place before the mine can generate revenue.’

Background—Mining on Bougainville

The Panguna Mine was one of the world’s biggest copper-gold mines until a civil war forced its closure in 1989. The war took up to 20 000 lives and displaced an additional ten thousand people. The Panguna Mine was a leading cause of the war. The communities have not been offered redress for the damage.

Since 2009, there has been a push to re-open the mine, with proponents claiming that Bougainville needs the mine to be economically independent. President Momis has been at the forefront of this fight, under the auspices of former operator Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), claiming that it would be the best and quickest option to generate revenue.

In December 2017, however, the president announced a moratorium of mining at Panguna and revoked BCL’s  mining license, after a meeting of landowner meetings voted against such an extension.

See here for more information about the history of mining in Bougainville.

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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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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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