Tag Archives: John Momis

Global mining major needed to re-open Bougainville’s Panguna copper mine?

 Kevin McQuillan | Business Advantage | 18 July 2017

Moves to re-open the Panguna copper mine on Bougainville are gathering momentum. Funding the re-opening is a key concern, however, says Bougainville President, John Momis. Could one of the global mining majors get involved?

Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) is currently advertising for a local Bougainville-based manager, and are looking at the payment of K14 million in rent and compensation that was owed to the 812 customary clan groups who own the blocks of land within the mining lease areas.

Autonomous Bougainville Government President John Momis tells Business Advantage PNG, that over the next year, he expects BCL to open an office and ‘start dealing with some of the legacy issues, demonstrating BCL’s commitment, in a just and fair way, to some of the real issues that have been bothering the land owners.’

That includes, he says, the ecological, environmental, and health damage issues caused by former owner, Rio Tinto.

‘They have walked away, so now BCL has to address that.’

Momis says the Joint Steering Committee preparing for the mine’s re-opening consists of representatives from the nine official landowner groups, BCL, the national government, and the ABG, and is to be chaired by an independent chairman.

Funding

A key challenge is the cost of reopening the mine; back in 2012, BCL estimated it would be US$5 billion.

‘BCL has to demonstrate to us they have ability to solicit funds and attract a developer and I’m sure they are thinking about this,’ says Momis, pointing out that under Bougainville’s 2014 Mining Act, BCL has first right of refusal about re-opening the mine.

‘The Panguna mine is a “high-risk, high-return” investment.’

‘We are giving BCL the opportunity to get funds and to meet the conditions as per the mining law. If they fail, then other companies will have to apply and be put through this process.’

High-risk, high-return

Mining industry analysts describe the Panguna mine as a ‘high-risk, high-return’ investment, which only global miners would be interested in.

Greg Evans, KPMG’s Perth-based Global Leader, Mining Mergers and Acquisitions, believes there will be considerable interest.

‘If you look at what the resource is, and what it can deliver to both an owner and investor—and, probably more importantly, the local economy—it would have to be a definitive “yes”.

‘The copper price is heading in the right direction, the supply metrics are working in the favour of copper broadly and I would expect that BCL are being approached reasonably regularly by a number of metals traders.’

Evans points to growing demand for copper, noting that batteries in electric vehicles are likely to use 927,000 tonnes of copper a year by 2030, according to forecasts by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That alone equates with 5 per cent of current production.

Global

Evans believes a global miner, ‘like Glencore or similar’, is likely to become involved.

‘KPMG just completed a survey around transaction activity across a bunch of sectors. In the mining sector, the preference of the majors was particularly for joint ventures at the asset level.

‘Batteries in electric vehicles are likely to use 927,000 tonnes of copper a year by 2030.’

‘To me, that would be the form that a transaction would likely take. BCL would ensure the social licence to operate, and look after stakeholder management, political and administrative management on the ground, with perhaps a partner coming in providing financial and operational support.

‘So, it is likely to be a large industry player used to dealing in remote locations, eliciting strong local community engagement, and creating local employment as an obligation and priority. All those things are going to be required.’

Risks

Satish Chand, Professor of Finance at the University of New South Wales and based at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra, says risk assessment will be crucial.

‘There has been a history of conflict where a very small number within the population has the ability to stop a very large mine. That risk remains.

‘There is a contest over the distribution of proceeds and that has not yet been settled to my understanding. There is little that is known about the magnitude of the cost involved in the clean up.’

Chand notes that the Bougainville Mining Act says 51 per cent of the mine must be locally-owned. The non-binding referendum on Bougainville’s independence from PNG scheduled for 2019 must also be considered a ‘risk’.

Greg Evans agrees the local shareholding requirement makes the financing prospect ‘more challenging’.

‘The biggest successes that the majors have had in countries such as Africa and South America, have been where they’ve engaged local communities, shared the profits, and shared the benefits. The control over how those profits flow and are allocated is equally the challenge—as it is the solution.

‘You’ve always got to come back to the quality of the resource; which will always make it attractive.’

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Dark Times for Bougainville – John Momis makes Donald Trump look competent

Bougainville govt’s forthright support for BCL at Panguna

Tobias | July 1, 2017

If you didn’t laugh, you would cry.

President Momis: ‘BCL has the first right of refusal. If we didn’t give it to them and set a time frame within which to source funding then BCL might take us to court and thus delay the opening of the Panguna Mine.’

Don Wiseman: Hang on mate, you evidently own BCL, you cant sue yourself.

President Momis: ‘Well we may now control BCL but the original agreement, concocted in Australia by the colonial government and Rio Tinto’.

So what the Colonial Government will be resurrected, via a time portal, and will join forces with Rio Tinto to sue.

This is the man who is going to oversee the referendum.

Lord Save Us!

John Momis continues: ‘a dollar invested in mining produces three dollars in other associated industries’.

LOL this is actually the opposite of what happens, in a mining dependent economy. Has the good President heard of the Dutch Disease, hint its nothing to do with the Netherlands.

Then this: ‘If nothing happens then the whole of Bougainville will not benefit but the worst losers will be the landowners themselves’.

Yes horror. If the ABG and a few non landowner associations are unable to push their agenda on the majority actual landowners, the latter will be able to enjoy their land, environment and sovereignty. Who knows their children may even have a future. Clear losing.

Dark times, with this captain at the helm – makes Donald Trump look competent.

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Bougainville govt’s forthright support for BCL at Panguna

President of the autonomous Bougainville government, John Momis. Photo: RNZI

Dateline Pacific | Radio New Zealand | 30 June, 2017

The Bougainville Government says it won’t give way to a landowner group that says it will not allow Bougainville Copper Ltd, or BCL, to return to the troubled Panguna mine.

The autonomous government wants the mine re-opened to boost the economy ahead of the vote on independence from Papua New Guinea set for 2019.

But the chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association, Philip Miriori, is adamant they will not allow BCL to return, though they are keen to see the mine opened, using an Australian company they have aligned with, called RTG.

However Bougainville President John Momis says the government is not about to let a company with no track record mine at Panguna.  

JOHN MOMIS: RTG doesn’t have any money. The RTG representative in fact, a fellow by the name of Renzie Duncan has Philip Miriori and a few of his cobbers on his payroll and their intention is to get the support of the landowners and the ABG and as a speculator go and find a developer. RTG itself as a company does not have the money.

DON WISEMAN: BCL doesn’t have any money either does it?

JM: BCL doesn’t have any money but BCL has the data. BCL has the first right of refusal. If we didn’t give it to them and set a time frame within which to source funding then BCL might take us to court and thus delay the opening of the Panguna Mine. If they fail to secure the necessary funds then we have the liberty to invite anyone else. But we can’t just give it to somebody, a company that has no standing, no track record, such as RTG. 

DW: Well I don’t think that is true. RTG has run mines. The thing with BCL and whether they are going to take Bougainville to court, well, that is not going to happen, is it, since Bougainville is effectively controlling BCL now?

JM: Well we may now control BCL but the original agreement, concocted in Australia by the colonial government and Rio Tinto.

DW: But they are not in the picture any more are they?

JM: They are not in the picture but the agreement itself is still valid.

DW: Is not the critical thing and you have told me this on a number of occasions. The critical thing is that you get the mine operating as soon as possible – the quickest way of doing that would be to accede to the demands of the landowner group that lives or owns the land right at the Panguna mine site?

JM: Philip Miriori’s SML landowners is just one out of nine landowner groups. Eight out of nine support ABG and BCL to open the mine, because ABG has shares in the mine. Although the amount of money is not much but ABG as we have been telling people Rio Tinto is no longer the devil we knew. Now the devil we own as such will be operating under our law. Eight out of the nine landowners support ABG.

DW: Yet you has an attempt to sign this memorandum of agreement the Friday before last and it was unsuccessful. Raymond Masono [Vice President of Bougainville] said last week he was going to give those people two weeks to sort themselves out – his words – but they seem very adamant so do you think you can bridge the gap here?

JM: Well the ABG has told the landowners the onus is on you to sort yourselves out to reach an agreement and we are giving them two weeks. And we know for a fact that most of the landowners are in support – it is just Philip Miriori and his group who are on the payroll of Renzie Duncan. This could be interpreted as bribery as you know.

DW: Well they might say the same in a way. The thing is I guess, they end up being the pivotal landowner group, or that seems to be the way they see it.

JM: If the eight go against the SML landowners [Miriori’s group] nothing will happen. If nothing happens then the whole of Bougainville will not benefit but the worst losers will be the landowners themselves. The ABG as the government has the perspective of making sure that we get the best interests of all the people, all the landowners, as well as all Bougainville. Whereas the SML people are just looking at their own selfish, legal interest and they are causing trouble. But we are not going to allow this to keep happening this way because it is time people put aside their selfish interests and worked for the common good of the people of Bougainville, which the government represents.

DW: Well their comeback to that is going to be that as landowners they control, as per the Mining Law, they control what is beneath the surface.

JM: That’s right but the ABG is also a major stake holder and without ABG’s approval nothing happens.

DW: The ABG has talked about mining in other areas. Have you gone any further with that?

JM: I am not sure what the Department of Mining is doing, but as you know they applied for exploration licences and they given and now I guess it is up to the companies which applied to find the funds which are necessary to carry out the exploration.

DW: Do you know whether there is outside interest in doing that?

JM: Toremana – a Western Australian company is interested there with the landowners in the Tinputz area, not far from Buka. But the other one is Isina, that is Sam Kauona and his people and they have been granted the exploration licence and I presume they’re working to either find partners or find the money themselves to do the exploration.

DW: So in terms of resolving these issues and getting a viable economy, or getting things starting to happen over the next couple of years, how confident are you at this point?

JM: Well I think everybody knows that fiscal self-reliance is one of the most important benchmarks that will be taken into account after the outcome of the referendum – by the national government, by the UN and the international community and I think people know that, so they are working hard now to ensure that we reach a consensus to open the mine. Apart from other, agricultural and fisheries businesses, believe that the Panguna mine is probably the best, quickest way of generating revenue because a dollar invested in mining produces three dollars in other associated industries – that’s agriculture or other businesses.      

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Renzie Duncan and Philip Miriori team up in another illegal Bougainville venture

PNGExposed | June 28, 2017

Sydney lawyer and mining venture capitalist, Renzie Duncan, is on the prowl again for Bougainville’s mineral wealth, with his old friend Philip Miriori,  the scandal-plagued, self-appointed head of the Me’ekamui Tribal Government. 

This time its through Central Me’ekamui Exploration Limited, which is in partnership with Australian mining firm RTG Mining.

Company extracts indicate that Central Me’ekamui Exploration Limited, despite its very local name, is in fact a foreign enterprise.

This assertion is based on the fact it is 50% owned by Australian company, Central Exploration Pty Ltd. 

Central Exploration Pty Ltd’s thriving head office is 266 Burns Bay Road, Lane Cove, New South Wales, Australia. This leafy address on Sydney’s north shore, is also the registered home address for Renzie Duncan.

Under the Investment Promotion Act 1992, a company which is 50% owned by a foreign entity is deemed a foreign enterprise and must apply for certification to conduct business in Papua New Guinea.

Section 41 of the Investment Promotion Act 1992 states it is an offence to carry on business without certification, punishable by a K100,000 fine. 

There is no record with the Investment Promotion Authority that Central Me’ekamui Exploration Limited has applied for certification, despite the fact it has been clearly conducting business with RTG Mining.

However, this is not the first time Duncan, Miriori and the other Central Exploration Director, Michael Etheridge, have conducted business in Bougainville. 

The last time it was through Transpacific Ventures Limited.

In that case Transpacific Ventures informed investors:

‘In the past 12 months, TPV has negotiated and signed an Agreement (the “Cairns Agreement”) with the Sovereign Me’ekamui Tribal Government on an exclusive basis for 20 years, renewable, to advise customary landowners (the Me’ekamui) in developing their natural resources sector, including potential oil and gas, on the island of Bougainville, PNG and surrounding atolls and marine territories, and to participate with the Me’ekamui in such development and other business opportunities’.

Yes, that’s right, Philip Mioriri and his self-styled tribal government proposed to sign away the natural resources, landed and marine, across Bougainville. Clearly, he had no right to, and Transpacific Ventures had no legal business publishing this information to investors.

Of course the claim by President Momis that RTG mining ‘doesn’t have any money’, is rather ironic given that his preferred operator, BCL, cant even afford permanent staff – and has no means whatsoever to raise the sort of capital to develop Panguna.

But the core point all this squabbling between various minority interests distracts from is this – 98% of the people in and around Panguna oppose mining, under any industrial guise. They have suffered the environment and human loss.

The ordinary people – real landowners – don’t have government support, nor do they have access to the internet or media. Their voice is unheard, except when they protest and resist.

The re-entry of Duncan and Mirori, will be cynically used by the government to label all landowner resistance, simply a plot to bring in an alternative developer by the backdoor. If this is argued, it is a lie.

Landowners throughout the mine area remain opposed, like they have since 1963, when the first rumblings of Panguna began. Journalists will not report this. They don’t leave their offices, much less speak with someone who cant reply in english.

On the rare occasions they do leave their office, they knock on the door of Lawrence Daveona, Philip Mioriori and other individuals, who falsely claiming they somehow speak for all landowners, which they don’t. Of course the colonial powers did this back in the 1960s. Some poor old man, was wielded out to say yes, while the mothers cried no.

History has been a cruel teacher, it is unlikely the mothers of the land will allow the bulldozers through this time.

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Panguna landowners give big tick to mining but no to BCL

Radio New Zealand | 22 June 2017

The head of a landowners group controlling the site of the Panguna mine in Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville says it is keen to see a resumption of mining but will always be opposed to the return of Bougainville Copper Ltd.

BCL was the original operator of the mine and has been blamed for sparking the civil war.

Its former multi national owner, Rio Tinto, last year walked away, giving its shares to the PNG and Bougainville governments, rather face demands for compensation over the environmental and social damage blamed on the mine.

Last week this new look BCL was stopped by a protest march from signing a memorandum of agreement with the Panguna landowners – a move seen as the first move to re-open the Panguna mine and boost the region’s economy ahead of an independence vote in two years.

Not the least of BCL’s problems is that they were not dealing with the proper landowners and legal action has put a stay on the signing of the MOA.

The man they should have been talking to, Philip Miriori, the chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association, says he will never back BCL returning.

Mr Miriori, who also heads the Me’ekamui Government of Unity, explained the SML’s thinking to Don Wiseman.

PHILIP MIRIORI: It is the same legal company with enormous liabilities hanging on its shoulder and some much damage was done during their operations. So it is the same company.

DON WISEMAN: The thing here is of course that since Rio Tinto has walked away – it doesn’t have resources does it? In terms of that  environmental and social deficit that people like John Momis have talked about, this current version of BCL is never going to be in much of a position to do much about that is it?

PM: With BCL the ABG is saying it is a new company, but we don’t think it is a new company, it is the same company,, and the same management. People from Rio [Tinto] are still with the BCL arrangement, even now.

DW: Are there any circumstances under which the Me’ekamui Government of Unity and the SML Osikaiyang Landowners would ever accept BCL?

PM: I don’t think we will accept BCL to come back to Panguna. BCL has said it would attract development partners, but we don’t know this development partner, who is he? maybe it is the same Rio Tinto. They are looking to come back and work with BCL.

DW: So this protest last Thursday and Friday, the protest and the road block, did your people organise that?

PM: The people of Panguna especially the landowners and the women, our stand has always been clear – we don’t accept BCL to come back and with the protest march last Friday it is a common sense that the people have here in Panguna, that by not accepting BCL to come back they had to stand for their rights. So they [The ABG] can make any tricks under the sun but with the records that BCL have in the past it is just not going to work. The protest march was right, you know.

DW: last month you presented a petition to the ABG, more than 500 signatures. What has been the outcome of that?

PM: Well the outcome from the ABG was negative. I presented that petition myself to President Momis. The petition was signed by 550 people from Panguna – the SML [Osikaiyang landowners]. So no response from President Momis’s office, so these are the things that have brought the people together on the signing of the MOA.

DW: You are not opposed to mining are you? You clearly are interested in mining and you have linked up with this Australian miner called RTG. Why have you linked with them? Why have you chosen them?

PM: I am always for mining you know but not with BCL. We have this Australian company. We work with them for some time now and we built trust so we are not opposed to mining opening. We are for. We want the mine to open, to generate prosperity for our people and not with BCL. We don’t want BCL to come back you know.

DW: Let’s say RTG were to get an exploration licence, would you be keen for them to get in there and start doing the EL work, as it’s called, immediately and then the prospect of opening the mine as soon as possible.

PM: If we are given an exploration licence we will start immediately and also make clean up operations around Panguna.

DW: There are a lot of other landowning groups close by aren’t there and it would seem that you are at odds with them, or are you?

PM: Now I want to correct this. The other eight, or whatever, landowner associations – I think at this point in time they are irrelevant. They can come in when the mine is up running. They can make no decision on where the pit is, so right now, for me, it is irrelevant for those other organisations to make a decision over the SML [Osikaiyang Landowners]. The only entity, legal entity, is SML which I am chairman of.  

DW: Your message then to the ABG is that there is substantial opposition among the people who are on the land, or who have the land, around that enormous hole in the ground at Panguna, who are opposed to BCL coming in, but you are very keen on mining and you want to form an association with this Australian company, RTG.

PM: A proper awareness is what is needed now. To go right down to the people, you know, and tell them what is the advantage of re-opening the mine now, and the disadvantage of keeping that mine [shut] for ten years as BCL says. But to us I can see that we start the mine up now, so that we start generating the money and prepare for the referendum or whatever you know.         

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Central Bougainville Women’s Group Against Mining

A group of Central Bougainville protested against the proposed Memorandum of Agreement signing on Wednesday June 14.

The women said they raised their concerns as they are the custodians of their land pass through their matrilineal lineage.

They were supported by the youth, men and children who protested against the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) saying they do not want the Bougainville Copper Limited come back to Panguna.

They carried placards and banners with some reading: “Women Own The Land”, “Do Not Dig My Land,” “BCL Not Welcomed in Panguna”, “Don’t create Another Bloodshed,”.

The march ended at the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association office, where they voiced their grievance to the former Chairman, Lawrence Daveona and his executives.

Panguna landowner, Bernadine Gemel Kama said, they have voiced their concerns to Mr Daveona, claiming they will sign the agreement which lacked their consent of women who are culturally the true landowners.

She also said the Panguna issue will cause division among the people of Bougainville because this mine has caused bloodshed of reeking war and destruction, with many lives lost during the civil war.

She said the Panguna Mine reopening, was an issue, in the interest for only a minority of people especially men, labelling it as which is a dangerous move by the Autonomous Bougainville Government, which a second crisis should not happen again.

And the message was clear, no mining, no BCL. And they are against the signing saying it must not proceed this Friday.

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Bougianville Chiefs prevent ABG from signing deal

Chiefs, mothers and daughters at the roadblock

PNG Loop | June 18, 2017

On Friday, women from the ‘Seven Sisters’ areas of Bougainville put up a strong roadblock at the Morgan Junction leading up to the Panguna Mine site.

This was where the proposed signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was to be held between the Autonomous Bougainville Government and so-called Panguna landowners. The deal would see Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) return to reopen the Panguna Mine.

The impenetrable roadblock was led by women chief from the ‘seven sisters’ areas in Central Bougainville.

The mothers, together with their daughters, youths, ex-combatants and Bougainville Hardliners, set up the roadblock, which started on Thursday night throughout Friday; refusing to move for passing vehicles or negotiating team.

Their message was simple: ‘No BCL, No Mining’.

Woman chief from Guava Village, Maggie Mirau Nombo, and Chief from Arawa and Pirurari, Kavatai Baria, said their land is their Mother, who provides their everyday needs and no one is allowed to exploit her.

Chief Maggie, who is a former primary school teacher, said how can those wanting to sign the MOA conduct such an act of injustice?

She said this will never happen again because they have suffered enough from all the injustice that has been brought on by BCL when it was in operation.

She said God has heard the cry of the Bougainville women, and justice will prevail.

“As long as I am the Chief from Panguna and Guava Village and owner of my land, BCL is not welcome. This is the Company that has killed our sons and daughters. ABG has to stop ignoring the cries of the women and take note that BCL is never allowed to come back to Panguna, and this is final and it is not negotiable,” she said. 

Chief Kavatai also reminded everyone that ‘when God closes a door, no one can open it, and if God opens a door, no one can close it’. Panguna Mine was closed by God and if anyone was trying to reopen the Mine when it wasn’t God’s timing, then they better watch out because they are fighting against a big God.

Because of the strong opposition by the women, youths and Bougainville Hardliners, the high powered ABG delegation, led by President John Momis, returned to Buka on Friday afternoon without signing the MOA.

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