Post Courier | February 11, 2019
THE proposed Amendment of the Bougainville Mining Act (BMA) was rejected outright.
It was rejected by the Panguna Landowners, Ex-Combatants, No Mining Groups, Core Team, the eight Association Chairmen of the Mining Affected Areas including the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowner Association (SMLOLA) members and the general public in Arawa who were present at the first attempt to consult on the new Bills – the ABG Consultation with the Panguna Mine Affected Landowners’ meeting, held at the Arawa Youth Centre yesterday.
SMLOLA chairman Martin Miriori said: “There were no answers that could explain or rationalise the attempt to steal our minerals and deny us all our rights under the BMA.
“The Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) Bougainville Executive Council (BEC) presentation was done by the instigators of the plan, ABG Finance and Treasury Minister, Mr Robin Wilson and the Mining Department, headed by the Mining Minister Mr Raymond Masono.
“Why is that, the Bills have been referred to the Legislative Review Committee as it is supposed to be subjected to independent reviews and consultations but there is nothing independent here.”
“They now seem to be trying to go even further, making it very clear that landowners will not have any interest in the mining company.
“The Government will be entitled to hold all the shares, something like Kumul Holdings or MRDC.
“But our law was very carefully drafted to be different to reflect the particular needs and history of Bougainville and its landowners.” Mr Miriori added.
During the presentation, Mr Wilson acknowledged that the SMLOLA’s proposal to the ABG is good but said the Government needs to create this entity through the amendment of the BMA to cater for money going into Government.
In response, Mr Miriori said this makes no sense, the SMLOLA proposal allows the Government to set up a new company and negotiate the deal terms, providing funding directly for the ABG and immediate funding for the Referendum in advance of finalsing documentation.
“There is absolutely no need to push this offensive legislation as the ABG is already being offered a priority position, better than the landowners.”
Mr Miriori further challenged the BEC to demonstrate why landowners should support their plans when it denies them every right that was fundamental to the Peace Agreement, the Constitution and their very autonomy.
“Being told we will give up all their rights with no say and not even one kina of compensation, just a vague promise in the future of something in “one form or another” as the Bill actually says.
“They are suggesting we should just take whatever we are given.
Given the BEC was not able to provide any answers to these very important questions, a resolution by the SMLOLA and Panguna Mine Affected Landowner Associations was then presented to the ABG by Mr Miriori clearly stating the proposed Bills are unfair, unreasonable, unconscionable and unconstitutional.
“If passed they will be challenged and Panguna is delayed indefinitely. “Nobody wins – in fact we all lose.” Mr Miriori added.