Tag Archives: Bougainville Advance Mining

Bougainville’s Momis says mining opponents are lying

Autonomous Bougainville Government President John Momis.

Radio New Zealand | 12 March 2019

The President of Bougainville says landowners who criticise the government’s proposed mining law changes have been misled.

The president announced plans for sweeping changes to the mining law in January, as the government sought money to help pay for the region’s referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea.

It has been criticised by landowning groups and human rights organisations but John Momis says these people have been misled by mining companies and others who want their own deals.

Mr Momis said the new law would greatly increase returns for landowners, earning them much more than the current measure which only guarantees their ownership of the minerals while they are in the ground.

“Under our proposal they own the resources, unextracted or extracted, and based on the known ore body we can raise the money ourselves.”

The mining law change would also see the government set up its own joint venture with an Australian entity, called Caballus.

The joint venture, to be known as Bougainville Advance Mining , would aim to re-open the huge and controversial Panguna mine.

The Bougainville referendum is set to be held in mid October.

Bougainville to go ahead with controversial law rewrite

Radio New Zealand | 12 March 2019

The Bougainville Government remains committed to rewriting the autonomous Papua New Guinea region’s mining law.

President John Momis says critics of the move are lying.

He says the new law would mean landowners retain ownership of the minerals after mining, making the benefits they receive much greater.

In January Mr Momis announced plans to change the law and team up with an Australian businessman, Jeff McGlinn, forming a company called Caballus.

It sparked an outcry but as Mr Momis told Don Wiseman his government is undeterred.

TRANSCRIPT

JOHN MOMIS: That will enable us to find a developer or investor to come in a joint venture with us, on the basis that we don’t pay anything because the Panguna ore body is a known ore body. It’s 65 billion kina worth. It’s known. And there’s only one Panguna mine – that’s excluding the Seven other Sisters. There are many companies in the world, if we gave them the mining licence they would go and raise money based on the value of this ore body. We, the landowners, will raise that, raise the money ourselves.

DON WISEMAN: yes but some of the key landowners say they are being shut out of this whole process.

JM: That’s not true. They are being lied to by RTG [Australian mining company] and others. Under the current mining law, which is better than the national mining law, the landowners only own the resource as long as it’s in the ground. Unextracted. Once it’s extracted the developer takes over and the landowner only gets five percent. If they wish to increase their share they can only increase it by another five percent, which they have to purchase. Under our proposal they own the resources, unextracted or extracted, and based on the known ore body we can raise the money ourselves.

DW: There has been criticism of your changes to this mining act. You clearly need to sell it more around Bougainville.

JM: That’s right, yes. I admit that our people made a mistake of not conducting a proper presentation, which they have subsequently done, and many people have seen and are saying, well, this is the best we have. We have – this week actually – while I am on the roadshow with the UN Nations Resident Co-ordinator and the Minister for Bougainville Affairs, we are going on a weeklong roadshow, our ministers will be conducting awareness amongst the members and others. We are very confident, once people understand. They have been misled or told that we are going to take everything away from the landowners. It’s nonsensical. in fact under our mining law they don’t even have to pay for their share because it’s their resource.

DW: Jeff McGlinn, though, he is not someone with a direct involvement in mining is he. I know he is involved in mining machinery and so on, but he’s not a miner.

JM: He’s not a miner, but there are mining companies in the world, we can hire the experts. I think it’s 65 billion US dollars worth of ore in the pit, the current Panguna pit, mineable over 27 years. That’s a lot of money.

DW: Well I guess  the critical thing is how much of it comes back to Bougainville?

JM: Well under our law, or proposed initiative, I think it’s 58 billion. 50 billion will come back to Bougainville and only eight billion will go to the  developer. under their proposal, [RTG] 50 billion will go to them and the poor Bougainvilleans will only get 8 billion.

DW: So you are going to get a developer to come in, spending billions redeveloping the mine and they are not going to earn very much from it.

JM: Well they will get a lot of money. We own the resources and I think it’s six billion to develop the mine, and they can get the money back, quite comfortably.

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All Panguna Mine Landowners United In Opposing BMA

Post Courier | February 25, 2019

The customary landowners from all mine affected areas in and around Panguna – not just the pit area – are 100% united in opposing the controversial draft Bills to change the Bougainville Mining Act (BMA).

The draft Bills would see their rights been stripped, leaving them to try and negotiate with their own Government many years down the track, after they have given up all their rights and ownership of minerals.

Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association Inc chairman Philip Miriori said: “All we are vaguely promised is some form of compensation once mining activity commences.

“Who would do that, give up everything with no deal to look after our people.

“Can you imagine, at that point it will be like us negotiating with Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) again. They will have all the power and we will have none.” He added that this is why they are all united against these changes to the BMA and the architect of this fraudulent attempt to steal from us.

A formal Petition has been signed by all nine landowner associations representing all the land that was impacted in the original Rio Tinto – BCL – Panguna Mine, which operated from 1972-1989.

The mine halted production when Rio Tinto and its subsidiary BCL lost the support of the Panguna landowners and the community.

“We all know what that led to. The Autonomous Bougainville Government is contemplating transferring the control of the Panguna Mine to an unknown Australian entrepreneur who claims he will raise $6 billion for Panguna, when he has never built or run a mine ever before,” Mr Miriori said.

The petition draws the attention of the ABG to no fewer than nine what landowners alleged to be materially false claims of the proposal.

Mr Miriori said the most fatal being the claim of a “permanent 60%” interest for the ABG. “It is ludicrous and simply impossible…he wants us to believe investors will put in 100% of the capital.

They say US$6 billion for 40% of the profits, this is impossible, he added.

SMLOLA special adviser Lawrence Daveona said Rio Tinto had to walk away from Panguna because they lost the support of the community.

“This petition confirms every single member of the Panguna Landowner Association opposes the proposal,” Mr Daveona said.

The signed resolution calls for the immediate withdrawal of the Bill to change the BMA and to try and stop further damage being done to their reputation internationally, Mr Daveona added.

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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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