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.
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.