Tag Archives: John Momis

We are being softened up for the re-opening of Panguna mine

Panguna mine – now back in play

Leonard Fong Roka | PNG Attitude | 15 September 2017

PANGUNA – There is a lot happening in central Bougainville around the now derelict Panguna mine.

Two local groups, with external financial backing, are engaged in awareness programs – campaigning if you like – for re-opening the mine that operated for about 20 years until hostilities closed it in 1989.

Thence followed the loss of some 10-15,000 Bougainvillean lives and millions and millions of kina worth of damage to assets and property.

Both of these groups on the make are yet to explain to us who suffered directly in the 10 year civil war how this ‘awareness’ or ‘campaigning’ for the re-opening of the mine will affect us and what our role may be.

The English word ‘awareness’ (Concise Oxford 11th Edition) is defined as ‘having knowledge or perception of a situation or fact’ while campaign has two meanings: the military definition which I’ll ignore and the other – ‘an organised course of action to achieve a goal’.

Last Monday I sent a text message to Bougainville Copper Ltd manager Justin Rogers, who was about to board a plane from Buka to Port Moresby. The missive was about mine-related activities in Central Bougainville, especially about the mine re-opening which is being pushed aggressively by the leaders of both the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Panguna New Generation Leaders (PNGL).

Mr Rogers’ reply said:

“The issue at the moment is interests in mineral rights. Our interest is to start a project to see if mining is viable. There is no mine until someone proves it is commercially and technically [viable].”

This communication shed some light that the current campaign to re-open the mine is a home-grown strategy devised by economically and financially uncreative leaders; a leadership that is not oriented to nation-building but blinded by a characteristic Third World dependency syndrome.

That is why the current themes being pushed down the throats of our poor people are, ‘no mining, no referendum’ and ‘no mining, no independence’.

It is clear to me that both the ABG and PNGL are campaigning for the re-opening of the mine.

I enquired of Mr Rogers why themes as ‘no mining, no referendum’ and ‘no mining, no independence’ were being promoted with BCL funding.

His response was simply:

“BCL hopes to come soon to Panguna and start delivering our own messages. Just letting mediation and MOU [memorandum of understanding] processes run their course first.”

So anxiety is being generated in the hearts and minds of the Bougainville people that the Bougainville referendum needs the Panguna mine and, if people vote ‘yes’ to independence that ‘yes’ will come to fruition only with the re-opening of Panguna mine.

This is the clear strategy of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and Panguna New Generation Leaders.

For us who live in and around Panguna, the ‘no mining, no referendum’ theme is unfounded. The referendum scheduled for 2019 will happen with or without mining in Panguna. It has been legislated for in the laws of PNG and Bougainville.

The fear triggered by ‘no mining, no independence’ is politically shortsighted.

If we vote for independence without a mine at Panguna and the result is upheld by PNG, our ‘yes’ will nullify all existing PNG laws that exploit the revenue we should be earning from our cocoa, copra, seaweed, sea cucumbers, alluvial gold and many other revenue sources.

These represent millions of dollars’ worth of income we never receive under the PNG state apparatus and their value measured against our population is more than the mine could generate after BCL and the PNG government get their shares.

Thus the callous activity of promoting the re-opening of the mine is a campaign and not an awareness program to educate the ordinary people of the Panguna, Bana and Kieta who have lost our land, jungle, rivers and more; and are considered by state and corporate interests as nobodies.

Let ABG, PNGL and BCL also tell us what they are doing to respect our Bougainvillean customs and traditional practices and what they will do to honour our lost relatives and property.

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Panguna Landowners: We will have the final say on mining

Fabian Hakalits | EMTV News / Asia Pacific Report | 30 August 2017

Panguna landowners will determine any reopening of the controversial mine on Bougainville, says a local leader.

Philip Miriori, chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Land Owners Association (SMLOLA) in Panguna, Philip Miriori, has told EMTV News that all parties and talks would go through them.

This was because the people in the Special Mining Lease area were greatly affected by the mine’s impacts when it was operating in the 1980s before the 10-year Bougainville civil war.

“We do not want the past to repeat itself but it must be a reminder to us now to get a better deal for the SMLOLA members and the rest of Bougainville,” he said.

Miriori said the past had gone, and history should not be repeated in Bougainville.

He claimed meetings had been conducted with resolutions and agreements passed which the SMLOLA were not a party to.

“They do not speak for me and my people but serve other interests,” he said.

‘Disrespectful’ to landowners
He said this was very disrespectful to the people of the SML area because they had no voice in the decisions that were being discussed by outsiders about their land on which their livelihood depended.

He also highlighted any decision or document signed to reopen the Panguna mine would be in contempt of court.

The court order restrains parties to the memorandum of agreement which was going to be signed in June this year to make Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) the preferred operator to reopen the mine.

This was because the question of the interests of landowners in the mining project would be an agenda of discussion at the court-ordered mediation in Panguna next month.

Miriori also highlighted that he had the mandate to represent his people through the SMLOLA and the National Court recognises him as chairman and not Lawrence Daveona.

Miriori maintained he was still the SMLPLA chairman until December 2018 when an election of a chairman would be held.

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Wars of words over Panguna as Bougainville moves to new era

Leonard Fong Roka | PNG Attitude | 26 August 2017

With Bougainville less than a year away from a referendum on its political future, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and a local Panguna group known as the Meekamui Government of Unity are in a war of words over the re-opening of the Panguna copper and gold mine.

The ABG wants the now reformed Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) to operate the mine which it believes will finance the redevelopment of Bougainville.

But the Meekamui and the Osikaiyang Landowners Association are keen to see the mine opened by an Australian company they have aligned with called RTG.

Bougainville’s president John Momis has said the ABG will not allow a company with no track record to mine at Panguna.

The quarrel between the ABG and the Meekamui is potentially divisive and may affect peace-building efforts in the autonomous province.

BCL, through the Panguna Negotiation Office, is said to be funding a group calling itself Panguna New Generation Leaders which is aggressively pushing for the re-opening of the mine.

The Meekamui and its overseas backers are taking a more moderate stance but are determined to get RTG to develop the mine.

After a 10-year civil war, the signing of the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001 addressed the political problem but did not provide a settlement to cater for the Panguna problem which is still shimmering around us.

Meanwhile the 1980s vintage old landowners associations and the new landowners association are also still verbally brawling and attacking each other.

As this struggle goes on, we, the innocent people of Panguna, are being blamed by other Bougainvilleans of working to re-open Panguna.

On the BCL side we see no change of heart for the interests of the people of Bougainville who have suffered because of them and the PNG state.

Rio Tinto offloaded its shares to PNG and Bougainville so that we could see that it was changing its mind on the future of Panguna. But can we be sure? We need to watch to see if various personalities move to and fro between positions in BCL and Rio Tinto.

Let us hope we are not submerging into the violence of the 1990s even as we try to work through the peace agreement and move to the new dawn that next year’s referendum should represent.

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Bougainville Copper: will it get to play again?

Rivers and streams in the mine’s vicinity remain polluted and unusable as sources of freshwater or fish. Photo by Catherine Wilson.

MAC [Mines and Communities] | Nostromo Research18 July 2017 

Odds seem loaded against recent moves

When the great – no doubt sometimes also good, but frequently woefully ignorant – among mining outfits (and their desk-bound investment advisors) look at a risk-laden, problematic, prospect like Bougainville Copper Ltd’s Panguna mine, any upturn in commodity markets are apt to be heralded as a golden opportunity.

And also give a boost to the fortunes of the existing incumbent company BCL, however dubious its ownership claims may be.

Two such “experts” – Greg Evans of KPMG and Satish Chand, a professor of finance based at Australia’s Defence Academy (sic) – acknowledge some of the risks involved in finding a major player to bankroll restart of the Panguna mine, estimated by BCL itself to cost around US£5 billion.

But they appear to have little understanding of the increased financial burdens that will be incurred, not least in compensating a fully-independent Bougainville for the vast damages caused by former lease owner Rio Tinto, as well as the strong likelihood of local bitter opposition – especially by women – to the mine’s re-opening (see article below).

These risks were clearly set out in a paper published by Nostromo Research and geophysicist Dr. Mark Muller at the end of 2015. It asserted that, inter alia:

  • A new mine is at least five – possibly ten years – away from any profitable production;
  • Judging by the amounts and grades of copper and gold in the existing Panguna mine lease area, any company re-opening the mine will struggle to compete against global competitors, and is likely to fail;
  • In order to attract mine development funds, BCL must acquire new prospecting ground outside the current licence area. It’s doubtful this would yield significant fresh economically-recoverable ore reserves;
  • Even if these were implemented, they would necessitate significant additional operating costs; and would materially increase threats to the integrity and health of landowners’ land and water;
  • It’s highly improbable that any [major] mining company – including Rio Tinto and Chinese ventures – would be seriously interested in re-opening Panguna (See: Would restarting Panguna contribute to Bougainville sustainable development?).

John Momis, head of Bougainville’s Autonomous Government, earlier seemed to accept such evidence, and dispute BCL’s right to resume mining (See: Has Bougainville president done a U-turn on Panguna?).

Alas – the lure of fresh money, however speculative, has proved  a powerful force in influencing the president to place his faith in “the devil we know”, rather than admit to the true nature and shameful history of that particular enterprise.

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

Kevin McQuillan | Business Advantage PNG | 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.’

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.

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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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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