Tag Archives: David Johnston

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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Bougainville Mining Coup Engineered by Former Australian Defence Minister Leaked Document Suggests 

Image: A recent Caballus Mining meeting on Bougainville

Bougainville is facing arguably its biggest challenge since 2001, as the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) attempts to push through major amendments to its Mining Act, reportedly at the behest of Western Australian businessman, Jeffrey McGlinn.

Last week Mine Watch exposed the links between McGlinn, Qamar Khan and Belden Namah. Namah has mysteriously been on Bougainville meeting with President John Momis. Now we have in our possession a document purportedly written by another Western Australian, David Johnston.

Image: Former Australian Defence Minister, David Johnston, the current Chairman of Kalia Limited.

Johnston is a former Minister for Defence in the Australian Government (famously known for being embroiled in an expenses scandal), and is currently Chairman of Kalia Limited which is laying claim over mineral prospects in North Bougainville.

But it is Panguna mine to which this leaked document pertains. It is a consultancy report written for the ABG, and the advice solicited by the named author, David A L Johnston, is a blueprint for the current mining coup underway in Buka.

The top secret document solicits advice to the ABG on how it can rapidly raise revenues – which by all accounts are being lost just as rapidly to corruption – through a radical plan to reopen Panguna.

The document, written in August 2017, claims Bougainville Copper Limited has ‘lost [its] social licence to operate’. This references the considerable body of evidence linking BCL to environmental devastation, war crimes, and other egregious human rights abuses.

Shortly after the consultancy report was submitted to the ABG, President Momis, in effect cancelled BCL’s renewed bid to obtain a mining lease over Panguna, telling the media: ‘The people felt BCL no longer deserved the social licence’, a statement seemingly taken almost word for word from the consultancy report.

However, the report does not argue for a long term moratorium on Panguna while the wounds of the past heal. To the contrary it encourages a radical coup designed to rapidly reopen Panguna, using a shady offshore system of corporate ownership and ‘shadow Directors’.

The report argues that the ABG should organise experienced ‘shadow directors’ to advise its appointees on BCL’s Board, allowing them to access critical commercial-in-confidence records essential to the proposed mining coup.

The consultancy report then argues for issuing a new mining license to an offshore corporate entity, Liberty Minerals, with the ABG as 100% shareholder. From here, it continues, the ABG can enter into a joint venture with a new investor to reopen the Panguna mine.

The structure mimics what is currently being advocated for by the Bougainville President,  except Liberty Minerals is to be known as Bougainville Advance Mining and the foreign ‘partner’ has a name, Caballus Mining, led by McGlinn.

Mine Watch has already detailed the links between Belden Namah, a man implicated in high profile corruption scandals in PNG, and Jeffrey McGlinn.

The question then is, what is the relationship between fellow Western Australians, David Johnston and Jeffrey McGlinn?

The amendments being argued for by McGlinn, with the full backing of President Momis, appears straight out of the playbook set out in this consultancy report, which is purportedly written by Johnston.

Whatever the answer is, it appears as Bougainville approaches the independence referendum, meddlesome hands from the former colonial power, are all over the ABG.

We have Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) vying for Panguna under Australian management. BCL claims it is the rightful mine operator.

For a time, Momis argued BCL enjoyed overwhelming support from landowners (they didn’t), and his government. The President in a series of letters launched scathing attacks on local and international advocates, who argued BCL should be held to account for past injustices. Later it was revealed that the letter metadata showed they were penned on the computer of another Australian adviser to President Momis, Anthony Regan.

Now the relationship with BCL has cooled, Momis recently told Radio New Zealand: ‘Bougainville Copper … got away with trillions and they gave the people of Bougainville, the landowners included, a pittance. They destroyed our environment, destroyed our land, exploited the place’.

Then there is RTG Mining, an Australian company, which claims it, not BCL, is the rightful operator: ‘RTG Mining Inc  is the nominated development partner with the joint venture company, Panguna Minerals Limited, established by the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association and Central Exploration Pty Ltd, in their proposal with respect to the redevelopment of the Copper-Gold Panguna Project located in the Central Region of the island of Bougainville, within the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea’.

RTG Mining is linked to Australian Renzie Duncan, and Bougainvillean, Philip Miriori, both of whom have a questionable track record. It appears this corporate faction do not enjoy the backing of President Momis.

Now to the mix we can add McGlinn’s Caballus Mining and Bougainville Advance Mining, a third contender for the Panguna mine, which operates with the President’s full support.

The roles played in this faction by former PNG Deputy PM, Belden Namah and former Australian Defence Minister, David Johnston, is still to be clarified.

Deafening is the Australian government’s silence as its citizens wreak havoc on Australia’s so called strategic doorstep.

But one thing is for certain, foreign corporate cabals sense blood in the water, with a weak and deeply corrupt ABG, ailing under the leadership of President Momis.

Meanwhile, landowners continue to make their opposition to the resumption of mining in Panguna known, regardless of which Australian conglomerate takes over.

Plenty of ideas circulate Bougainville on how to create a sustainable future, even if it falls on deaf ears within the ABG.

While late last year NGO, Jubilee Australia, released a new report that contains voices from Bougainville and abroad, on sustainable alternatives for funding a potentially independent Bougainville – read the report here.

Of course, sustainable solutions that rely on the savvy of locals it seems are no match for pipedreams being sold by Australian businessmen, who appear to have a monopoly on the President’s ear.

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