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.