Tag Archives: Mining Act

Proposed Bougainville Mining Act changes go to committee

Radio New Zealand | 15 February 2019

Proposed changes to Bougainville’s Mining Act have been referred to a parliamentary committee for further discussion.

The Autonomous Bougainville Government’s proposed the changes which have met with widespread opposition as the region prepares for a referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea.

The government last month divulged its plans to re-open the long shut Panguna copper mine and operate it with a company majority owned by Bougainville.

It sought to pass amendments to the Mining Act to accommodate an Australian investor who will jointly own Bougainville Advance Mining.

The Bougainville Advance Mining Holdings Trust Authorisation Bill, the Bougainville Advance Mining Holdings Limited Authorisation Bill, and a bill to amend the Bougainville Mining Act 2015, have all gone through first readings.

However, after community concern over the proposed amendments, the bills were referred to the Legislative Review Committee.

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Proposed Bougainville mining laws a ‘reckless land grab’, says Jubilee Australia

Panguna mine in operation, circa 1971 (Photo: Robert Owen Winkler/Wikimedia Commons)

Jubilee Australia | February 12, 2019

 Over the last two weeks, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), led by its president the Reverend Dr John Momis, has announced its intention to amend Bougainville mining laws.

The proposed amendments to the 2015 Bougainville Mining Act, along with accompanying legislation, will give the ABG the power to hand over mining leases to all parts of the island not under existing leases to Bougainville Advanced Mining, a new entity created for this purpose. The ABG would have 60% ownership of Bougainville Advanced Mining, while 40% would be owned by a foreign partner.

Statements made by the President last week suggest that Caballus mining, a Perth-based company headed by Jeff McGlinn, will be the foreign partner involved.  

‘These are radical changes and appear to be nothing more than a reckless land grab,’ said Dr Luke Fletcher, Executive Director of Jubilee Australia. ‘First, this would hand over control of the majority of the island to the President and his foreign partner, Mr McGlinn.

‘Second, the President would have the power to unilaterally distribute leases without any consultation or permission from landowners. As a result, landowners will be cut out of the process. These amendments undermine the principal of Free, Prior and Informed Consent, said Dr Fletcher. ‘Doing so is both anathema to Melanesian culture and vitally important in the Bougainville context.’

‘It is not clear to us that this legislation is even constitutional,’ said Dr Fletcher. ‘It is a startling and dangerous move. Given the disastrous history of the Panguna mine in Bougainville, which has caused irreparable environmental damage to the Jaba river and was the major cause of the Pacific region’s worst ever civil war, forcing through such enormous changes with very little consultation is a reckless and desperate ploy.’

Comments made by the President to Radio New Zealand justified the move based on the need to hold the Bougainville independence referendum: ‘The people of Bougainville are determined to have the referendum and they must find the money to fund the referendum,’ the President said. ‘One way of doing it would be if we started our own company and generated the revenue to enable us to conduct the referendum. We cannot sit on our hands.’

‘As our recent study of the question demonstrates, we are highly dubious that mines like Panguna could ever raise enough revenues to satisfy both foreign investors and the people of Bougainville,’ said Dr Fletcher.

‘It is certainly impossible that the mine will raise any revenues before the independence vote. It will take years for the building/repair of infrastructure, the completion of environmental studies and other importance processes that need to take place before the mine can generate revenue.’

Background—Mining on Bougainville

The Panguna Mine was one of the world’s biggest copper-gold mines until a civil war forced its closure in 1989. The war took up to 20 000 lives and displaced an additional ten thousand people. The Panguna Mine was a leading cause of the war. The communities have not been offered redress for the damage.

Since 2009, there has been a push to re-open the mine, with proponents claiming that Bougainville needs the mine to be economically independent. President Momis has been at the forefront of this fight, under the auspices of former operator Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), claiming that it would be the best and quickest option to generate revenue.

In December 2017, however, the president announced a moratorium of mining at Panguna and revoked BCL’s  mining license, after a meeting of landowner meetings voted against such an extension.

See here for more information about the history of mining in Bougainville.

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CONTROVERSIAL MINING DEAL THREATENS BOUGAINVILLE UNITY AND REFERENDUM

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.

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TRICK OR TREAT? The attempt by Jeffery McGlinn and Caballus Mining to hijack mining prospects in Bougainville

The abandoned Panguna mine

Chris Baria | February 10, 2019 

Today the people of Arawa, landowners, women, ex-combatant core group, and“no mining” Bougainville hardliners milled into the Sharps Memorial Youth Centre, Arawa, to be“educated” by the Bougainville Executive Council (BEC) on the finer points of mining and controversial amendments to the once controversial Bougainville Mining Act 2015 (BMA) that is yet to be industry tested.

One wonders why such an entourage as BEC has found it necessary to carry out “consultations” on such unpopular bills which have drawn stiff opposition throughout wider sections of the community.

Today, the Finance Minister Robin Wilson and the Vice President and Mining Minister, Raymond Masono spoke out against what they called misinformation and misconceptions in social media that were causing so much confusion about the new mining bills, and the bill to effect amendments to the existing BMA 2015. They said that the amendment to the BMA 2015 were necessary to give more benefits to the resource owners than what the current mining act can provide them.

Their attempt to illustrate the benefits of tampering with the BMA, via PowerPoint presentation, did very little to allay our fears as we were already aware of the sections in the BMA 2015 that were subject to draft amendment by lawyers acting on behalf of Jeffery McGlinn and Caballus Mining. Not only is our law subject to tampering by foreign elements but our ‘mama’ law, the constitution, is affected.

We the people who are preparing to vote on a referendum express our desire to be an independent nation feel violated.

Recently, ABG linked up with a little known mining company that was only registered not long ago in the British Virgin Islands. It appears that“Caballus” mining is owned by Jeffery McGlinn from Perth in Western Australia.

This man McGlinn, whom we know very little about apart contradictory tales of his recently registered company’s experience in working with indigenous people and traditional leaders, has sold a scam to ABG and ABG has swallowed it hook line and sinker. In a very simplistic proposal that omitted the complexities of a mining venture and the “dog-eat-dog” world of business enterprise, Jeffery McGlinn has shaken the house and dazzled it’s gullible occupants. His top card is a fantastic shareholding cut between him and his creation, BAM [Bougainville Advance Mining] that puts Noah Musingku and U-Vistract to shame. “BAM” in Tokpisin means head on collision. As a matter of fact it may well be on collision course with our sanity.

Back at the Youth Centre I was yearning for some excitement to lightened up the dull boring discussions when Hon. Robin Wilson’s man stoked up the projector to show us the workings of BAM.

He continued to tell us how the landowner would get more than what the currently Bougainville Mining Act 2015 provided for and how wonderful it is for Bougainville to have it’s own mining company. He spilled the the secrets of how BAM was going to create an economic miracle for Bougainville and give it a mining company and not rely on foreign companies and white people to come take what rightfully belongs to us.

The decision to butcher the Bougainville Mining Act was conceived by Jeffery McGlinn for the Dodos in ABG and it’s Administration under the pretext of “better benefits” for landowners. The Mining Act is not about better benefits. It should be about the protection of the human rights of the indigenous people of Bougainville which are not interchangeable with monetary benefits.

My question is how much of what was presented in PowerPoint can we say is from within us and our vision? On the one Hon. Wilson tells us not to woo white folk and then on the other hand he presents an idea, not of his own creation but what a smooth talking white dude gave him and the words he breath into good member’s mouth. The idea of Bougainville’s own Mining company and it’s ability to serve the government and it’s people seem quite attractive but what is the price tag on it?

How naïve can our leaders to keep collecting prefabricated nonsense? Despite many of them being educated they still cannot differentiate between what is real and what is fantasy, simply because they don’t bother to check on who they are dealing with in the first place.

This brings up another issue, the capacity of the Autonomous Bougainville Government or any other Bougainville government established to replace it after referendum, and the capability of it’s administration to manage and regulate the impact of a large scale mining operation in the region. Since its inception the Autonomous Bougainville Government has establish a string of businesses and partnerships with the Chinese that leaves us wondering as to how these companies are faring as ABG’s money spinners.

The biggest horror story in this issue is the taking away of landowners rights and privileges and put them under a trust company that is to be controlled by ABG under a section of the BMA. The ABG has not right whatsoever to tamper with landowners’ inalienable rights. When governments become corrupt and tyrannical the “trust” between landowners and government embodied in the trust company is endangered. We see this kind of arrangement which is similar to PNG Sustainable Fund in which landowner monies are either locked in or stolen by politicians already but whatever the reason landowners have no access to their funds.

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Rights group trying to stop large scale mining on Bougainville

Inside the pit of abandoned Panguna mine in Bougainville Photo: supplied

Radio New Zealand | February 8, 2019

The chairman of a rights group in Bougainville is trying to stop amendments to the island’s Mining Act which would give a foreign company exclusive rights to large scale local mining.

James Onartoo, who chairs the Bougainville Hardliners Group, said the island’s civil war was caused by foreign control of large scale mining on the island.

Mr Onartoo said his group is opposed to any further large scale mining in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region.

His comments come as the region’s government plans to re-open the long shut Panguna copper mine.

It is seeking to change the Mining Act to accommodate an Australian investor with whom they plan to start a new company called Bougainville Advance Mining.

Their plan is for Bougainvilleans to be the majority owners of the company.

But Mr Onartoo says this is in breach of sections 23 and 24 of Bougainville’s constitution as well as the Mining Act which provide protection from a repeat of what he called “the ownership of minerals on the island by colonisers.”

Mr Onartoo said Bougainville’s 350,000 people don’t need large scale mining which only stands to benefit foreign entities.

He said the focus should be on sustainable alluvial mining which can be more easily regulated by the autonomous region’s government.

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Bougainville mining plan meets with outrage

An abandoned building at Panguna mine site in Bougainville

Radio New Zealand | February 5, 2019

Landowners near the Panguna mine in Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville region have voiced outrage at the local government’s new mining plan.

The autonomous government of Bougainville is planning to re-open the long shut Panguna copper mine and operate it with a company majority owned by Bougainville.

It is expected to pass amendments to the Mining Act to accommodate the Australian investor who will jointly own Bougainville Advance Mining.

The plan comes after squabbling over who should get the licence for the Panguna mine, followed by a government moratorium on any Panguna development because it could undermine the referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea, planned for June of this year.

Describing the deal as the best for landowners, Bougainville President John Momis said existing companies already mining in Bougainville doing were “not affected by this new deal”.

He explained that with PNG’s central government failing to fund Bougainville ahead of the referendum, the government decided to take urgent action to find money.

Caballus Mining, owned by West Australian businessman Jeff McGlinn, has no public profile in the industry.

This is of concern to the Osikaiyang Landowners Association, whose chairman, Philip Miriori, raised questions over the viability of finance for Caballus’ plans.

“Caballus has no assets, and yet is demanding a monopoly on all major large scale mining projects in Bougainville.

“McGlinn is demanding an initial 40% percent interest, which will increase further over time, without any upfront cash and only a shallow promise of future money if he is granted those rights first.

“This is just a con job,” Mr Miriori said, adding that Mr McGlinn’s track record with indigenous people, and stand on customary rights, made him ill-equipped to gain a social license for his Bougainville plans.

Public disapproval

The new plan has thrown a cat amongst the pigeons in Bougainville public discourse in this important year.

A public forum to discuss the issue washeld in Arawa on Sunday highlighted general community outrage over a move to change Bougainville’s laws in order to expedite the new mining development.

The Bougainville Advance Mining Holdings Trust Authorisation Bill, the Bougainville Advance Mining Holdings Limited Authorisation Bill, and a Bill to amend the Bougainville Mining Act 2015, have all gone through first reading.

At the forum, the Chairman of the Bougainville Hardliners Group which is opposed to any form of large scale mining, called on the Bougainville government and general public to fund the referendum from their own pockets by donating twenty kina each meet referendum expenses.

“Lets show Papua New Guinea that we are independent by funding our referendum”, he said.

At the end of the meeting a resolution was passed to lobby to block the bills from being finally passed in by the government.

Former mine operator worried

In a statement, Bougainville Copper Limited said the new developments raised “very legitimate legal, constitutional and ethical questions”.

“Not only by BCL and its shareholders, but also by landowners in Bougainville and others in the community. More widely these bills could also be interpreted as both anti-competitive and anti-investment which is the last thing Bougainville needs.”

BCL ran Panguna until the outbreak of civil war in 1989 in which grievances caused by the mine were central to the 10 year conflict that cost over 20,000 lives

Mr Momis had placed an indefinite moratorium on mining at Panguna after landowners opposed the return of BCL.

The landowners said BCL would not take responsibility for the environmental and social impacts of its previous operation.

However BCL said the Bougainville Mining Act 2015 did not need to be modified.

“Bougainville introduced good laws and regulations in 2015 designed to rebalance Bougainville’s mineral rights after a long period of consultation with all stakeholders. Now those rights are being undermined in haste by these proposed changes. Any genuine investor worth its mettle should be able to work within the existing laws.”

The bills are to be further read by the local parliament on 12 February.

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Bougainville to set up local company to reopen mine

Radio New Zealand | February 4, 2019

Bougainville’s government is planning to re-open the long closed Panguna mine, and operate it with a company that’s majority-owned by Bougainville. 

This comes after much squabbling over who should get the mining licence, followed by a government moratorium on any development at the site because it could undermine the looming independence referendum.

Bougainville’s president, John Momis, says with Papua New Guinea failing to fund Bougainville ahead of June’s referendum, these are emergency times and the government has decided to take action. 

He told Don Wiseman a company called Bougainville Advance Mining is being set up to be owned by the government of Bougainville and an investor, Caballus Mining, owned by West Australian businessman, Jeff McGlinn.

TRANSCRIPT

JOHN MOMIS: Caballus Mining was specifically set up to be the partner. It never existed before, but Jeff was involved in construction and management of big mines in Australia for a long time. 

DON WISEMAN: To do this though you are changing your own Mining Act, to suit this one company.

JM: Not to suit the one company, to suit our company. To suit the needs and the aspirations of the people of Bougainville who own the majority in Bougainville Advance Mining (BAM) and it gives the best deal, the best ever of any other mining deal before, to the people and the government of Bougainville.  

DW: The mining legislation that was passed a couple of years ago was hailed by many, including yourself, so why is it that there’s a need to ‘remove complicated steps that are unnecessary’.

JM: It’s not complicated. It was the best then, but even under the existing mining law which says that the minerals, while they remain in the ground are 100 percent owned by the landowners. Once extracted they are no longer owned by the landowners. The landowners only have 5 percent free equity, five percent. And if they want to increase they can only increase it by another five percent which they must purchase. under the new, the amended law, the people and the ABG will automatically own 60 percent. Don’t you see the big difference? So the people of Bougainville will – this is probably against an investor, it’s certainly the best deal for the landowners.

DW: Sixty percent certainly sounds impressive. Would you though retain because, at some point,, you have got to bring in additional investors and they would want a share wouldn’t they, so is that 60 percent going to stay or be whittled down?

JM: Well if any investors want to come they could buy from the 40 percent that has been allocated, under our mining law to investors, including Jeff McGlinn and his company, and any other investor. 60 percent belongs to the ABG and the people of Bougainville. But that does not, in principle, stop us from selling some of our shares, as long as we have the controlling interest. The Bougainville Advance Mining will go out, BAM, that is the joint venture, will go and solicit funds, will go and raise funds for mining in Bougainville. The amendment proposal does not affect existing companies that are involved in exploration. We have three companies in Bougainville doing that now. They are not affected by this new deal.   

DW: So when you say you will retain a majority, you mean you wouldn’t sell below 50.1 percent?

JM: yes we wouldn’t sell below that.         

DW: Do you think that’s going to be attractive to investors if they come in and they are always going to be [the] minority?

JM: I am sure that if they are interested they will have to abide by our laws, because for too long they have been misleading us. All the companies that have operated – well, Bougainville Copper, operating in Bougainville, got away with trillions and they gave the people of Bougainville, the landowners included, a pittance. They destroyed our environment, destroyed our land, exploited the place.   

DW: OK so BAM, you are already looking at projects?

JM: Well right now we are looking at Panguna.

DW: So you have got to come to a deal with groups of people and other companies, I suppose, that are working in the opposite direction?

JM: That’s right and the spokesmen of one of the other companies have become spokespeople of these companies and not the landowners, because what they are promoting is totally against the best interests of the landowners. 

DW: You did have a moratorium on Panguna for a number of reasons. You didn’t want to spark tensions leading up to the referendum. Is now the best time to be heading into this?

JM: Well as you know we have a huge problem with respect to the referendum. The national government has refused to fund. We have not received any money since the last JSB meeting, and time is running out on us. The people of Bougainville are determined to have the referendum and they must find the money to fund the referendum. One way of doing it would be if we started our own company and generated the revenue to enable us to conduct the referendum. We cannot sit on our hands. These are emergency times and in emergency times you have to take necessary measures to address the issues that confront Bougainville right now. The national government is not going to support the Peace Agreement, which talks about not only reaching a mutually acceptable political outcome of a negotiation between the national government and Bougainville, but one of the other important objectives of the Peace Agreement is to secure a permanent peace and if the national government consistently and systematically fails or refuses to pick up their end of the stick then they are working against securing permanent peace. Our people have suffered for too long under unjust deals that have been imposed on Bougainville. And this time around we are not going to take it.

DW: So it is your plan that BAM, Bougainville Advance Mining, will be up and running within a matter of weeks?

JM: Well we have, we have to. Whether it’s a matter of weeks or – we have to take the first step along the road to wherever must start now. We have to be seen to be proactively taking and responsibly taking measures to enable, to put us in a position where we are totally united, where there’s total human solidarity in Bougainville to put us in the strongest position to negotiate. Because as you know the outcome of the political status of Bougainville will be negotiated between the two governments, after the referendum.   

New mining company the best deal for Bougainvilleans – Momis

Radio New Zealand | February 4, 2019

An amended Mining Act will mean a new mining company in Bougainville can offer the best deal to landowners, the president of the autonomous Papua New Guinea region says.

Bougainville is forming a company to open the controversial Panguna mine.

It will be called Bougainville Advance Mining (BAM) and a be joint venture with a newly established Australian entity, Caballus Mining, headed by West Australian Jeff McGlinn.

The president, John Momis, had placed an indefinite moratorium on mining at Panguna after landowners opposed the return of miner Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL).

The landowners said BCL would not take responsibility for the environmental and social impacts of its previous operation.

BCL ran Panguna until the outbreak of civil war in 1989 in which grievances caused by the mine were central to the 10 year conflict that cost over 20,000 lives.

Mr Momis said the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and landowners would be permanent majority owners of the new company.

“Under the new, the amended law, the people and the ABG will automatically own 60 percent,” he said.

“It’s certainly the best deal for the landowners.”

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