Tag Archives: Mining Act

Proposed Bougainville mining law change referred to Ombudsman

Radio New Zealand | 11 June 2019

A landowning group at the site of Bougainville’s Panguna Mine says it has referred the government’s controversial mining plans to the Papua New Guinea Ombudsman.

The Osikaiyang Landowners group said amendments to the Mining Act, due for consideration in parliament this week, would effectively reverse customary law on the ownership of minerals.

Bougainville’s government has argued that what it is planning, in conjunction with Australian businessman Jeff McGlinn, will ensure landowners are better off.

But the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association said this amounted to an abuse of executive power, the Bougainville Constitution and the PNG Constitution.

Osikaiyang chair Philip Miriori said the group would never allow others to “steal our land, our minerals and both our future and our heritage”.

The amendments are defective and the people pushing them, such as Mining Minister Raymond Masono, are breaching the Leadership Code, which is the basis for the appeal to the Ombudsman, Mr Miriori said.

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Filed under Bougainville, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea appoints reformer to crucial petroleum portfolio

Kerenga Kua is a former attorney general turned prominent opponent of Marape’s predecessor, Peter O’Neill.

Tom Westbrook | Reuters | June 7, 2019

Commodity and energy companies with projects in the resource-rich archipelago have been awaiting the makeup of Marape’s cabinet as a sign of his plans, after parliament voted him in last week on a platform of economic change.Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape installed a reformer as petroleum minister on Friday, handing him a mandate to overhaul the sector and warning investors to “pack up and leave” if they did not like it.

Announcing his ministries in the capital of Port Moresby, Marape said Petroleum Minister Kerenga Kua – brought in from the opposition – shared his vision for raising more revenue from the resources sector.

“We are tired of being rent collectors,” Marape told reporters at Government House where the cabinet was sworn.

He promised changes “friendly to the investor but also friendlier to our country”.

Marape had sparked months of political chaos when he quit as finance minister over the government’s handling of a big gas agreement struck in April with French oil major Total SA.

He then rode a wave of discontent over that deal, and an earlier one with ExxonMobil Corp, into the top office, triggering a new round of scrambling – this time from commodity firms clamoring to meet and lobby him.

Kua is a former attorney general turned prominent opponent of Marape’s predecessor, Peter O’Neill.

He has been quoted in the media as saying resource laws should be changed to give the state a bigger stake in extractive projects.

“(He is) widely respected and a noted critic of dodgy deals,” said Jonathan Pryke, director of the Pacific Islands program at Sydney think-tank the Lowy Institute.

Nevertheless, Marape has insisted reforms would be slow, unlikely to take effect until well beyond elections due in 2022, and not designed to harm investment.

Peter Botten, the head of PNG-focused energy firm Oil Search Ltd said in Sydney on Thursday he did not expect to make any significant new concessions on a gas deal it and ExxonMobil Corp hope to strike with the government.

Marape, referring to concern among foreign investors, offered both reassurance and a warning.

“I make no apologies to anyone,” Marape said. “You don’t like the way I’m speaking? Pack up and leave.”

“Peter Botten knows me. I am investor friendly. But I have also to win for eight million shareholders of this country and that’s what this generation of leadership is all about.”

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Filed under Financial returns, Mine construction, Papua New Guinea

Proposed Wafi-Golpu Mine On Hold

MOU was signed  “when the constitutional process had not been fully exhausted and, therefore, not only premature but also a clear breach of the Mining Act and the Constitution”.

Jimmy Kalebe | The National aka The Loggers Times | May 10, 2019

A COURT has put on hold operations of the K9 billion Wafi-Golpu copper-gold mining project in Morobe pending a review of a deal signed between the Government and developers.

Morobe Governor Ginson Saonu took the matter to court challenging the legality of the signing of the memorandum of understanding last December between the Government and Newcrest Mining Limited and Harmony Gold.

Saonu on behalf of the Morobe government claimed that the signing of the memorandum was done without proper consultation with, and input from, the provincial government and other stakeholders.

The memorandum was signed on Dec 11 following a clearance letter from State Solicitor Daniel Rolpagarea.

National Court acting judge Justice John Numapo ruled that the stay order also applied to any representation by Saonu or the parties who signed the memorandum regarding the project, including any meetings or consultations.

Saonu and the provincial government had asked the court to review the letter constituting the legal clearance issued by Rolpagarea for the execution of the memorandum.

Lawyer Paul Mawa, representing the State, asked the court to refuse the leave for review because the application was premature, misconceived and defective.

He argued that it was not supported by any clear and tangible evidence.

He said the legal clearance purportedly issued by Rolpagarea was not the decision of a public body or authority and therefore could not be reviewed.

But Justice Numapo stated that Rolpagarea was public office holder and what he did fell under a public body or authority which was subjected to review.

Justice Numapo dismissed the claims by Mawa and ruled that the issues raised by the plaintiffs were prima facie as they contained substantive issues of law.

He said the issuing of the letter to clear the memorandum for signing was done when the constitutional process had not been fully exhausted and, therefore, not only premature but also a clear breach of the Mining Act and the Constitution.

He said the second issue related to the terms of the memorandum was that the Morobe government wanted to benefit fully from the project.
Saonu and the Morobe government had wanted half of the 30 per cent State equity to be awarded to the Morobe government. Justice Numapo said this was not accommodated in the memorandum.

He also highlighted the fourth goal of the national goals and directive principles enshrined in the Constitution which called for collective benefits and equal distribution of natural resources and environment for all citizens.

The case will return for a directions hearing on May 24 at the National Court in Lae.

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New Solomon Islands govt prioritises mining reforms

MV Solomon Trader oil spill on Rennell Island, Solomon Islands. Feb. 2019. Photo: The Australian High Commission Solomon Islands

Radio New Zealand | 8 May 2019 

Solomon Islands prime minister Manasseh Sogavare says his new government is prioritising productive sector reforms including new mining legislation.

Mr Sogavare told the Solomon Star the decision was taken in light of the country having recently been caught in a very awkward situation over mining issues.

Earlier this year a cargo ship ran aground on a reef off of Rennell while trying to load bauxite from a mine on the island.

It eventually spilled hundreds of tonnes of heavy fuel oil into the ocean causing one of the worst man made disasters in Solomon Islands in recent times.

The whole saga has revealed inadequacies in Solomon Islands mining law when it comes to holding mining companies accountable for environmental disasters caused by their operations.

In the Rennell case, the mining company Bintan Mining continues to deny liability for the spill and has said it would be suing the ship’s owner.

Manasseh Sogavare said his government is committed to delivering new legislation for the mining sector as part of a larger aim to build a broad-based and environmentally sustainable economy.

Mr Sogavare said he hopes the new law will create a robust and conducive local mining sector that can attract good investors.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Financial returns, Solomon Islands

Akoitai Is Firmly Against Amending Of B’ville Mining Act

Patrick Makis | Post Courier | May 2, 2019

Central Bougainville MP Sam Akoitai is opposed to the amendments to the Bougainville Mining Act being proposed by the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

Mr Akoitai said this when addressing representatives from the nine landowner associations of the Panguna mine-affected communities last week in Arawa.

He said the ABG is trying to amend the Act when the current legislation had not been tried and tested since its enactment in 2015.

“What is wrong with the current act? Many commentators, including Bougainvillean leaders, said the Mining Act was unique after it was enacted,” Mr Akoitai said.

“What happened to this uniqueness that requires the amendments?”

Mr Akoitai said the proposed amendments would create an “uneven playing field” in the mining industry in Bougainville.

“As a former mining minister in the national government, I have never come across an Act tailored specifically to suit one particular developer,” he said.

“You must tell your constituency members not to support these changes on the floor of parliament.”

Mr Akoitai said the 60/40 per cent equity arrangements being proposed under the amendments was impractical.

“People supporting this 60/40 arrangement are fooling themselves,” he said.

“How will Bougainville come up with money to fund its equity when currently it can’t even deliver services due to shortage of funds?

“Let’s be practicable and test out the Bougainville Mining Act in its current form first before we start making amendments.”

Mr Akoitai told the affected communities that he wanted to see unity among the landowners.

This is especially for the special mining lease group, before he would be ready to talk with potential investors over the re-opening of the mine.

“I am calling on the landowner associations to remain intact and the unification of the SML factions. We have to be united so we can secure a better deal when dealing with investors,” he said.

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Indigenous Rights Advocacy Group says ABG President Momis is not telling the truth

Prime Minister O’Neill has written to the ABG President raising concern over proposed changes to the Bougainville Mining law; concerns Momis is trying to downplay using ‘misinformation’

Chairman of a human rights organization, Bougainville Indigenous Rights Advocacy (BIRA), James Onartoo, has raised concerns that the ABG President Momis is deliberately trying to spread misinformation to push his government’s proposal to amend the Bougainville Mining Act.

Mr. Onartoo was responding to a draft letter of response by President Momis to concerns expressed by the Prime Minister in his letter to the President on the proposed amendment. The letter in which the President downplayed the Prime Minister’s concerns was posted recently on social media.

Mr. Onartoo said that the proposed amendment drew wide opposition because it removed protection of customary landowners’ rights and attempted to replace it with vague benefits and entitlements that lacked detail.

“You cannot remove and replace existing protection of the rights of customary landowners with imaginary rewards that may never materialize in the end,” he said.

Mr. Onartoo was also critical of the way ABG was handpicking people to drum up support in the mine affected areas to help push through the amendments. He said the ABG had never obtained “free, prior informed consent” (FPIC) in the mine affected areas and instead it has tried to avoid those who opposed mining, causing further divisions in the mine affected communities.

“Under FPIC the people have the right to say no to mining and the government should respect the wishes of the people and support them. Instead the government has gone abroad to make a deal and it is now trying to involved the landowners after the laws are drafted along with the proposed amendment to cater for monopolization of mining by a single mining company ”, Mr Onartoo said.

The Vice President, Raymond Masono and Finance Minister Robin Wilson left yesterday for Port Moresby to hand deliver the letter from President Momis to the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill.

Meanwhile, ABG Parliamentary Legislative Committee’s inquiry into the amendment bill continues in Central Bougainville and according to it’s Chairman and member for Kokoda constituency, Rodney Osioco, there is a growing opposition from all stakeholders and the general public, to the proposed bill by the ABG to amend the Bougainville Mining Act.

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“ABG IS BEING RUN LIKE A PRIVATE BUSINESS”, HARDLINERS

Chairman of the Bougainville Hardliners, James Onartoo says ABG has neglected its role as a government and is operating like a business

Starizons Media | March 5, 2019

The Chairman of Bougainville Hardliners and former combatant turned businessman, James Onartoo has has raised concerns that ABG has not performed its functions of preparing Bougainville adequately for referendum vote on independence for Bougainville. Speaking at a meeting of representatives from Ex-combatant Core Group, No Mining Group, Central Bougainville SMEs and concern citizens yesterday afternoon in Arawa, Mr. Onartoo said that the unnecessary delays and postponement of referendum is the result of ABG not being prepared. He said that it should have had alternate funding plan in place already to cater for the funding delays but instead ABG has wasted time chasing after mining which apart from dishing out bribery has not started operating yet.

He went on to add that ABG has become more like private business of politicians and bureaucrats who care little for the consequences of their dealings especially with mining companies that are making unrealistic promises to them.

“There is general lack of transparency and wider consultations through out Bougainville and with those who are to bear the full brunt of the effects of mining whether they be environmental, social, economic, cultural or otherwise. Instead ABG is going outside Bougainville to discuss business and taking away handpicked people who they feel will open doors for them. Some key members of the Ex-combatant core group have also been lured away with promise of cargo and cash and are now associated with ABGs business and mining interests.

“This is quite sad because it is through the core group that dialogue was established with every known faction on the island. This ongoing dialogue has shown promise of uniting the whole island. However, lack of funds have slowed down core groups’ work throughout the autonomous region.

“The recent upsurge in violence and killings can shows that peace process has stalled because the ABG has got it’s priorities wrong.

ABG should continue to fund the core group so it can complete it’s good work instead of drawing away its members to chase after money” he said.

Mr. Onartoo also called on Simon Pentanu to explain why the three mining bills were read in Parliament without adequate scrutiny of the house of representatives through discussions and debates. Mr Onartoo also questioned why Jeffery McGlinn, a foreigner and not a member of the house allowed to speak in the chamber as if he were one making mockery and debasing the sanctity of the seat of people’s government.

“It is time worshipping and bowing down to foreigners who come treat us like fools in our own house, must stop as we paid a very high price for that house” he said.

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