Tag Archives: Lawrence Daveona

Meetings to determine Panguna’s future

Cedric Patjole | PNG Loop | November 11, 2017

Two meetings have been identified as key events that may determine the timeline to rebuild the Panguna Mine in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

According to Business Advantage, Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) chairman, Rob Burns, says the meetings, to be held in November and December, include a mediation as well as a wardens’ hearing.

The first meeting on November 23 and 24 is the third round of mediation talks to settle a dispute over the chairmanship of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA).

SMLOLA is one of the nine landowner associations in the project area.

A dissident landowner, Philip Miriori, is at the centre of the dispute, along with his cousin Lawrence Daveona, who both lay claim to the chairmanship.

The second event on December 11 and 12 is the wardens’ hearings on the five-year renewal of the mining exploration lease, currently held by BCL.

Under the Bougainville Mining Act 2015, the Autonomous Bougainville Government needs to hold wardens’ hearings as part of the process for a five-year renewal of the lease, before recommendations then go to the Minister.

“I’m optimistic it will be renewed. The landowners have agreed because they want a better life and see this as the way forward,” says Burns.

The timeline for building the mine is estimated to cost K12 to K18 billion, and could take up to 10 years.


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Key meetings to determine timeline for rebuilding Bougainville’s Panguna copper mine

The abandoned Panguna copper mine. Credit: Sydney Morning Herald

‘The landowners have agreed because they want a better life and see this as the way forward.’

True or False?

 Kevin McQuillan | Business Advantage | 8 Nov 2017

Two key events before year’s end are likely to decide the timeline for the rebuilding of the Panguna copper mine on Bougainville Island. The Chairman of Bougainville Copper Limited, Rob Burns, tells Business Advantage PNG two board appointments are part of the company’s strategic development.

The appointment of Bougainvillean and mining specialist, Mel Togolo, and OK Tedi Mining’s Managing Director, Peter Graham, to the board of Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) last month reflects the company’s desire for more Bougainville representation, and the need for strategic management expertise, according to BCL Chair, Rob Burns.

‘We’ve been talking to the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and are been keen to get Bougainville representation—so first and foremost that was our number one priority,’ Burns tells Business Advantage PNG.

‘We’d like to make more appointments and get greater representation from the Bougainville side.

‘We also wanted to bolster our project development capabilities.

‘Peter Graham’s knowledge of project development and project management is second to none in PNG.’

Lease extension

Two key events this month and next will determine the timeline for rebuilding the mine, which is estimated to cost US$4–6 billion, and could take up to 10 years.

The first is a third round of mediation talks on 23–24 November aimed at settling a dispute over the chairmanship of one of the nine landowner associations in the project area: the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA).

A dissident landowner, Philip Miriori is at the centre of the dispute, along with his cousin Lawrence Daveona. They both lay claim to the chairmanship.

The second event is wardens’ hearings on 11–12 December about the five-year renewal of the mining exploration lease, which is currently held by BCL. Under the Bougainville Mining Act 2015, the ABG needs to hold wardens’ hearings as part of the process for a five-year renewal of the lease. The wardens’ recommendation then goes to the Minister.

‘I’m optimistic it will be renewed. The landowners have agreed because they want a better life and see this as the way forward.’


Burns expects there will be fresh elections for the executive positions of the SMLOLA after this month’s mediation talks.

Miriori’s group opposes the involvement of BCL in the rebuilding and operation of the Panguna mine.

The group is backed by a small Perth-based company, RTG Mining.

‘Things are progressing but not as quickly as we would like, and not as quickly as the Bougainville people would like, with the court mediation process to settle the landowner dispute still to run its course,’ says Burns.

‘We want to get on with it, but we are respectful of the need to get landowner and community understanding of what the operation will look like and get their input into how it’s designed and what features it will have.

‘BCL has project knowledge and the intellectual property.’

‘If we get all that right to start with it’s going to make it a far more efficient and effective development process. We believe we’ve got good support.

‘We don’t want some individuals and other consortia continuing to thwart us so we’ll entertain anything. But there’s a thing called trust in all this and until they demonstrate they can be trusted you can’t have a relationship—a sustainable one.’

Burns is sceptical about the role of RTG Mining (which has not yet responded to Business Advantage PNG’s requests for an interview).

‘They’ve got their story and they’ve made representation to Philip Miriori and a presentation to the ABG.

‘That’s been rejected by the ABG, so I believe this is part of their business plan—to eke their way into the redevelopment of the Panguna mine.’

Intellectual property

Burns says he believes BCL are ‘the rightful developers and have the community support to carry the development of the project.’

He argues that BCL has project knowledge and owns the intellectual property, which includes the geological database, where the ore is located and where the waste is.

‘If another party comes in, they’d have to commence a massive drilling program to ascertain basic details.’


Once the landowner dispute is settled and the lease is determined, Burns says BCL will work on getting more accurate assessments of capital requirements and operating costs.

BCL has US$50 million in liquid assets to do the social, technical, environmental and regulatory studies needed to prove the viability of the mine. That would lead to a full feasibility study, which might cost US$150 million.

‘There are people approaching us all the time about getting involved and how we might undertake that financing for the feasibility study, and for the major construction and rebuild that would follow.

‘We have a clean sheet of paper and that’s why I’m leaning on people like Peter Graham to assist us with strategic thinking.’

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Phillip Miriori: Why Bougainvilleans are having their say – ‘No to BCL’

Bougainvilleans proudly display “No BCL Ever” T-shirts. Image: Me’ekamui

Phillip Miriori | Asia Pacific Report | 13 October 2017

As many would be aware, we Bougainvilleans have been through a tough history with the disasters that came from the past operations at Panguna, then owned by Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL).

One of the key issues that led to our civil war, when around 20,000 of our friends and family died, was the way we were treated by BCL then – entering our lands without consent, poisoning our gardens and lives, removing our mountains, inviting in the military and ignoring our views, without compensating us fairly.

Since the end of the conflict, BCL has made no effort to resolve the damage they caused to our people, lands and rivers – infact they deny any responsibility and are trying to tell us what to do again, calling us impediments when we do not agree with the rules they try and dictate.

Have they learned nothing or think we have forgotten?

We have fought hard to protect ourselves from the same thing happening again if Panguna re-opens, and the new Bougainville mining law transferred ownership of the minerals to the landowners. As a result, now nothing can happen to our minerals without our consent.

Our Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA) members are now in a position to make BCL, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the world respect our views. One of the key steps in the process of late has been our efforts to protect ourselves from the attempt to force the return of BCL without our consent.

We have had to use the Courts to ensure we are listened too and the result has been a landmark mediation process, right here on our lands at Dapera led by Justice Kandakasi.

Mediation process

The mediation process was initiated by me to try and help resolve the challenge to my leadership of the SMLOLA by Mr Lawrence Daveona, despite the fact he is not following custom in recognising my leadership position, a position I was born into.

He also wants BCL to return despite everything they have done and failed to do, which is strongly opposed by the majority of our members, as demonstrated by the petition against the return of BCL which now stands at around 2000 members saying “No to BCL”.

The mediator has now given us one more opportunity to try and resolve this among our family which I am keen to do. I firmly believe we can all unite to protect our people against the return of BCL and I promise to make every effort to do that with Mr Daveona and the ABG.

I want to work with them to ensure any redevelopment of Panguna is done properly this time and our members are protected and looked after, respected and treated equally and fairly.

The primary objective of the mediation was to try and resolve the challenge to my rightful leadership of the SMLOLA by Mr Daveona, which I firmly believe is unlawful and will take to the courts again if necessary. I am making every effort to accommodate him as unity will have a very valuable benefit for all of us and the future of Bougainville.

One of the other valuable objectives that has come from the mediation and I have committed to work on, is to more closely align our association’s constitution with our Nasioi customs, moving key decisions back to our clan system that has been our way since time immemorial. I strongly support that and encourage everyone to participate as I believe it will assist in making any benefit sharing from a future mine fairer for all.

The mediation over the past few weeks, has also given our women, the owners of our land, the opportunity to stand up and be heard. Some of them are against mining and one of my important tasks will be to work with them further as I believe Independence for Bougainville is very important and mining, if done responsibly and with people who we can trust, who will show us respect and fairness, will enable us to get there quicker.

As part of that process, in my role as the chairman of the SMLOLA and an elder to our clans, I have worked hard to attract a reputable international mining company who has both the social and environmental track record to make sure this time the mine could be developed successfully, fully integrated into our local community.

Revolutionary law

From the time the new transitional mining law was passed in 2014, I worked closely with President Momis and both Mining Ministers, Michael Oni and Robin Wilson. In fact, on the day the law was passed I was invited to meet with President Momis at the ABG Parliament to celebrate the new revolutionary Bougainville Mining Act, which uniquely, gave ownership of the land and minerals, back to the landowners to try and repair some of the mistreatment of our people in the past.

They were then opposed to the return of BCL and supportive of our efforts right through until March this year when suddenly and inexplicably something changed. They would no longer engage with us, would not explain why and started a very public campaign supporting BCL and a challenge of my leadership by Mr Daveona.

I didn’t select RTG Mining Inc. lightly, even going to a mine their management developed in the Philippines with a group of both Panguna landowners and ABG Ministers to see how they do things. In fact, the three ABG Ministers that came to see the RTG operation in Philippines expressed support for RTG.

Over time we came to develop a trust with RTG’s management and believe they will make the redevelopment of Panguna a great success, working closely with our members. They have supported the hard work we have done over the last year to defend ourselves against the illegal return of BCL.

Misled through lies

It is disappointing that some try to mislead through lies. The suggestion that improper payments were made to ABG officials is both ridiculous and untrue. They are currently working against us and strongly pushing BCL and Lawrence, rather than being impartial which is all we ask of them.

Despite the current position of the ABG, we are confident that they will eventually hear our firm views – “No to BCL!” and we remain committed to working with them to find a solution where all will win, including the ABG. We must talk openly and respectfully to find a fair solution. The law and views must be respected and we will continue to fight for that for our members.

The mediation is not a forum to make a final call on who the developer should be and if the mine should be redeveloped, which must be done in conjunction with all our members, but it has been invaluable to be able to showcase the opportunities to highlight the issues and concerns with a possible return of BCL.

In fact, BCL and the ABG have publicly admitted they cannot develop the project themselves and would have to find a partner. Who will that be, why won’t they tell us? How can someone support them when we do not even know who the actual developer will be?

I hope that the discussions at the mediation will assist Mr Daveona to understand why our people would be better off without the return of BCL. And I will continue to work with him to try and reconcile our positions so we can stand united against them and get a far better result for our people, developing a model that is win-win for the people of Bougainville and the ABG.

Phillip Miriori is chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA), Me’ekamui Government of Unity and SMLOLA.

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Women protest against Panguna reopening

Women marching around Arawa Town to say ‘No Mining, No BCL!’

Loop PNG | 15 June, 2017

Mothers in Central Bougainville yesterday protested against the reopening of the Panguna Mine.

The women, supported by youths, men and children, were disputing the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), proposed to take place in Panguna tomorrow (June 16), between the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and Panguna landowners. This will see Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) return to reopen the Mine before June 2019.

Panguna landowner, Mrs Bernadine Gemel Kama, said they have voiced their concerns to the former Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA) chairman and his executives because they are the ones who want to sign the MOA with ABG. However, they have done this without the consent of the womenfolk, who are culturally the true landowners.

“If the ABG leaders are wise, they will not talk about reopening the Panguna Mine because a lot of bloodshed has happened because of the mine,” she stated.

“As a landowner in Panguna, I want everyone to know that it is only a minority of people, especially men, who want to reopen the Panguna with BCL. All of us do not want BCL to ever come back to Panguna and mine. If they want to talk about mining, talk about it after independence, not now,” she said.

Youth representative, Robert Baranangko, said he and other young men supported the women because they were not aware of the MOA.

He said Bougainvilleans should have been informed about the decision that the ABG was doing to reopen the mine.

He said the ABG was treading on dangerous waters to talk about reopening the Panguna Mine with BCL, when everyone knows that the blood of 20,000 plus people are on its hands.

He urged the leaders to hear the voice of the women, who are owners of the land, and as a young man, he does not want to see a second crisis happen again in Bougainville.

The peaceful protest march saw the crowd carry a big banner stating ‘No BCL, No Mining,’ and smaller posters reading ‘Do not dig my land’, ‘Women own the land’, ‘Don’t create another bloodshed’, ‘BCL not welcome in Panguna’, ‘Agriculture is the way forward for Bougainville’ and ‘We own the land’.

The march ended at the office of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association in Arawa, where they voiced their grievance to the former SMLOLA chairman, Lawrence Daveona. 

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Proposed Panguna mine reopening protested

A GROUP of women in Central Bougainville, supported by men and children, staged a march to protest the planned reopening of the Panguna mine.

The signing of an agreement is to be between the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the Panguna landowners. It will pave the way for the Bougainville Copper Limited to reopen the Panguna Mine. The deadline is before June 2019.

The women are members of the Panguna landowners. They marched to the office of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association in Arawa where they met former chairman Lawrence Daveona and his executives.

Panguna landowner representative Bernadine Gemel Kama said they raised their concerns with Daveona and his executives because they were the ones who wanted to sign the agreement with the ABG without consulting the women.

She warned that the Panguna issue would cause division among the people of Bougainville.

“As a landowner in Panguna, I want everyone to know that it is only a minority of people especially men who want to open the Panguna mine,” Kama said.

“All of us do not want BCL to ever come back to Panguna and mine.”

Youth representative Robert Baranangko, who joined the march with the women, said they were not aware of the agreement to be signed.

He said there was obviously a lack of consultation.

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Panguna: ‘MiPela Kilim Yu Dai – Prelude to a Guerilla War’

Panguna pollution

New Zealander details Panguna involvement 28 years on

Dateline Pacific | Radio New Zealand | 11 November 2016

In 1988, before civil war broke out in Bougainville, New Zealander Martin Ward was there, leading a team studying the impacts of the contentious Panguna copper mine.

Panguna had been operating for about 20 years and generating a lot of money for Rio Tinto and the Papua New Guinea Government but doing little for the people of Bougainville, especially those around the mine.

People living there had been complaining for years about the damage caused but had been ignored.

Mr Ward, a trained geologist who describes himself as a poacher turned gamekeeper, had established a company in New Zealand that could look at all the effects of mining.

He says it was because of this work that he was brought in by the PNG Government to make an assessment of Panguna.

Nearly 30 years on Mr Ward has written a booklet detailing his experience. It is called ‘MiPela Kilim Yu Dai – Prelude to a Guerilla War’ which is Tok Pisin meaning ‘We will kill you.’

It comes from a threat made to the group by Francis Ona, who was to go on and lead the separatist faction during the civil war.

He spoke to Don Wiseman about the work his team undertook.


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Bougainville’s Momis dismisses Panguna opposition


MOMIS: Lawrence Daveona doesn’t represent the landowners of the SML [Special Mining Lease]. He speaks for himself

Dateline Pacific | Radio NZ | 26 September 2016

Bougainville’s president says the claims of a dissident landowner leader are irrelevant as the PNG province aims to get majority control of Bougainville Copper Ltd.

BCL had operated the Panguna mine and the chair of the Panguna Osikaiang Landowners Association, Lawrence Daveona, says his group are the rightful owners of the mine site and the company itself.

This comes after Rio Tinto gave away its 53 percent shareholding and walked away, claiming it was under no obligation to do anything about the damage caused by the mine.

Panguna had been the catalyst of the province’s destructive civil war.

Bougainville’s President John Momis wants the majority shareholding although the Papua New Guinea government has given its Rio shares to the landowners.

Mr Momis told Don Wiseman most of the landowner groups from around mine, Mr Daveona excepted,  back his government’s push.

JOHN MOMIS: The landowners, more or less unanimously, except for Lawrence Daveona, who doesn’t seem to agree with anything, and he’s totally outnumbered. There’s only one person – there’re two people, who are against the landowners decision to say that the 17 percent the national government wants to give to the landowners, should go to the ABG, which is the legitimate government, because they believe in the new mining law of Bougainville in respect of the shares and benefits of the landowners are much much better than in the PNG mining law. Yeah the landowners are supporting the ABG and they are saying they are satisfied that the shares should be divested to the ABG.

DON WISEMAN: Yet Lawrence Daveona, he represents a critical group doesn’t he, right around the mine itself, and if you haven’t got these people onboard then isn’t any prospect of that mine opening and resolving this issue, isn’t that, well, it is not going to go anywhere is it?   

JM: Well Lawrence Daveona doesn’t represent the landowners of the SML [Special Mining Lease]. He speaks for himself. The landowners of the SML fully support the other landowners in their stance that the shares should and must be given to the ABG, which, in accordance with its mining law provisions, effects equitable distribution to the people, the landowners affected by the Panguna mine.

DW: Alright. So when do you think all of this is going to be resolved. When do you think the ABG will effectively become a majority owner of BCL?

JM: That will depend on how willing the national government is to dealing with the ABG. And if not, our position is clear, and I have stated this consistently in the past, that should they refuse, we will invoke the provision in our mining law to disqualify them, disqualify the national government from operating in Bougainville. Then we will go for international tender to ask any other developer who may be interested.

DW: After all of this angst over mining you must be thinking that if the critical thing is getting an economy going, that you walk right away from it and focus on other areas, like farming and tourism.

JM: Well we are doing that although not much is being said. Our strategy, we have adopted a multi-dimensional approach now. We are going to look at investment in agriculture, in tourism, and downstream processing, whilst we address the Panguna mine issue. There are other mines of course we could be looking at, but as a government we cannot let the landowners of Panguna, who have been exploited by Rio and the PNG Government, and decided to dump them. Walk away from them. As a government we have a responsibility to protect and promote nothing but the interests of the landowners. We are duty bound, in a way, to still fight for the landowners, while we look at other options of generating revenue for a government which is being starved by the national government of even its own legitimate, constitutionally guaranteed entitlements.

DW: In terms of the legacy issues, for the environmental and social destruction, there is a very real chance that nothing is going to come from Rio, so how confident are you that you are ever going to actually have the resources to be able to do anything about that?

JM: Well we may not persuade them, because I think they [Rio] are so morally bankrupt. They are so power drunk that they don’t want to come and address [what are] legitimate issues as far as the government and the people of Bougainville are concerned. Rio make billions, so did the PNG Government. So both Rio Tinto and the PNG Government have a real obligation to address the legacy issues. But be that as it may we are going to embark on an international campaign against Rio and make it known to the world what Rio did to Bougainville from a mine that they made billions out of.


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