Tag Archives: Mining Law

Panguna Landowners Question Mining Law Changes

Post Courier | January 6, 2020

The Panguna landowners have called for consultation ahead of renewed push to amend Bougainville’s Mining Laws. In a recent interview with Reuters, Bougainville vice-president and Mining Minister Raymond Masono said, in reference to his determination to push through with highly controversial amendment of mining legislation at all costs, that “the revolution is ongoing”.

Philip Miriori, the chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (“SMLOLA”) said; “There has been no consultation by the Mining Department with landowners post the rejection of amending legislation by the Bougainville Parliamentary legislative committee – none.”

“This legislation is opposed by each and every Panguna Landowner Association, local government bodies and all sections of the community. It will be a disaster for the mining industry in Bougainville and will ensure Panguna is never reopened.”

“Both the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the national government want Panguna to be reopened, so that it can reduce the dependency of Bougainville on the PNG national budget and enable us to deliver fiscal self-reliance for all Bougainvilleans,”

Lawrence Daveona said, “The Panguna landowners have written to Prime Minister James Marape, drawing his attention to this offensive and destructive attack on all Bougainville landowner’s hard-won legal rights being removed with the stroke of the pen, to allow the illegal transfer of the Panguna mine together with a near monopoly over all future large scale mining on Bougainville, to an unknown shelf company in the British Virgin Islands, based on a plan which can never work. PNG knows better than we do that, we must attract high quality foreign investment to grow and that means bringing in reputable development partners and allowing them to work with us to make Panguna and Bougainville a success.”

“This is the time for us all to pull together on the back of a very successful and peaceful Referendum. The revolution is done – a proposal like this will only create disharmony again and pit customary landowners against the mining department which is not necessary – we are here to work together co-operatively, to find a fair and equitable solution for everyone.”

The SMLOLA was established by the Autonomous Bougainville Government September 7 2011 with its Constitution being drafted by the ABG Mining Department.

The SMLOLA was established uniquely for and on behalf of all the customary landowners who own land contained within the area covered by the special mining lease at Panguna and now the subject of the expired EL 01, including the land used for the Panguna gold and copper mine pit, industrial processing areas, Panguna township and the areas around the mine within the area contained in EL 01.

The stated purposes of the SMLOLA pursuant to its Constitution is set out in detail in clauses 1.2 (a) – (h), and includes amongst other things, the duty to maximise the commercial benefits of their members in the Panguna Mine and promote peace, unity and co-operation amongst landowners in a sustainable manner.

The customary landowners and their families are members of the SMLOLA by right of birth within the 7 named villages, in accordance with the Naisoi custom, and as set out in clause 2.1.1(a) of the SMLOLA constitution.

The SMLOLA has in excess of 3,500 members.

The governing body of the SMLOLA is democratically elected every three years as required by clause 4.3.3 of the constitution, by the members so that its structure and board is truly representative of the owners. The current board was elected on 21 December 2018.

Section 8 of the Bougainville Mining Act states that “all minerals existing on, in or below the surface of customary land in Bougainville are the property of the owners of the customary land.

This is exactly the same as our unwritten customary law on minerals ownership that has been in effect for millennia.

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‘The revolution is ongoing’: Bougainville to revive radical mining proposal

Heavy trucks sit rusting on the edges of Panguna copper mine, closed in 1989 as a result of sabotage. CREDIT: FRIEDRICH STARK / ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

* Bougainville mining proposal to go before parliament in December

* Plan gives a 60% share of mines to Bougainville

* Bougainville is currently voting on independence from PNG

* Proposal was shelved ahead of independence referendum (Adds BCL share price, quotes, context)

Jonathan Barrett | Reuters | 28 November 2019

Bougainville Vice President Raymond Masono said he will revive a plan to overhaul the region’s mining laws after its ongoing independence referendum, which could strip the former operator of the Panguna gold and copper project of its interests.

The proposed changes, which have been criticised by Panguna landowners, would also erase an interest in the project held by the Papua New Guinea government, potentially complicating negotiations between the two governments after the referendum.

Under the proposed mining law amendments, Bougainville would take a 60% share in all projects and retain all mining licences, leaving a 40% share that investors can bid for.

“Panguna is the most likely project that can bankroll Bougainville’s independence from Papua New Guinea,” Masono, who is also Bougainville’s mining minister, told Reuters by telephone from the town of Buka.

“They don’t own the licence and the mine, we own it – they come on our terms. The revolution is ongoing.”

He said companies like former Panguna operator Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL), which counts the PNG government as a major shareholder and claims exploration rights at Panguna, would not get “special treatment”.

“They can only come in through the new framework. If they have money they can invest as will other investors.”

BCL declined to comment. The PNG government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Masono said he would push for the plan to go through Bougainville’s parliament in December, after it was shelved in the lead-up to the referendum amid a backlash from some landowners and government members.

Once the economic engine room of PNG, Bougainville has fallen to the bottom of almost every financial indicator, despite boasting mineral riches, fertile volcanic soil and stunning geography.

The autonomous region is now grappling over how best to re-establish a mining industry while maintaining peace, 20 years after the last shots were fired in a bloody conflict between Bougainville rebel fighters and PNG forces, killing 20,000 people.

As part of the peace agreement, Bougainville is holding a non-binding vote on independence that ends on Dec. 7, with the results to go before the PNG parliament and be subject to negotiation.

BCL is one of at least two companies, alongside a group including explorer RTG Mining Inc , that claims the rights to develop Panguna, with the dispute currently being tested in the PNG courts.

BCL shares had been on a bull run since the start of last week, rising almost five-fold to hit A$0.49 on Nov. 26, underpinned by positive sentiment flowing out of the independence vote.

BCL shares have since retreated to trade just under A$0.30 on Thursday.

Another Australian company, Kalia Ltd, is exploring for gold and copper on land located northwest of Panguna.

The mining law amendments, which have previously been backed by Bougainville President John Momis, were put on hold before the referendum amid concerns that landowner rights would be eroded, with control over assets being handed to the Bougainville government.

“It is totally unacceptable to be trying to steal Panguna from the customary owners,” Panguna landowner, Lawrence Daveona, said in a statement in June.

A Bougainville parliamentary committee was also heavily critical of the proposed changes, and noted that there had been a lack of consultation.

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Rival questions authority of Bougainville’s Osikaiyang landowners

“The original divisions from the beginning of the conflict in Panguna #Bougainville have not gone away. Foreign controlled companies continue to involve themselves and interfere which exacerbates the situation. Money continues to corrupt individuals and complicate any resolution” Stret Pasin

Radio New Zealand | 16 July 2019 

The Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association represents itself as the key body at the site of the Panguna mine, which various interests are looking to develop.

Osikaiyang wants to operate Panguna with an Australian company, RTG.

But the Panguna Development Company, which has links to rival prospective operator, BCL, said Osikaiyang is making misleading public statements when it has no right to do so, under the region’s mining act.

It said such statements can only be given by customary heads, who are authorised to represent the Panguna blocks, and Osikaiyang has never had this consent.

Last week Osikaiyang issued an ultimatum, suggesting the referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea could be derailed if it doesn’t get its way over Panguna.

The Development Company called this threat unfortunate.

Meanwhile, government moves to change the Mining Act to allow a third foreign company to take charge of the mine have been put on hold until after the referendum.

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B’ville Mining Changes For Benefit Of Caballus Mining

Philip Miriori and the SMLOLA are not happy with proposed changes to Bougainville’s Mining Act (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

Post Courier | June 13, 2019

As the Caballus/McGlinn deal comes under intense scrutiny and criticism, the pressure is on Bougainville’s Department of Mineral and Energy Resources.

Philip Miriori, chairman of the Panguna Landowners Association (SMLOLA) said the department head now has to justify the deal, as it has been exposed for what it is.

He said the department head now claims that the proposed mining changes are not designed and targeted to favour anyone.

“This is even though the department head acknowledges in writing that McGlinn’s lawyer was involved in the drafting of the proposed Bills to change the Bougainville Mining Act.

“The Caballus/McGlinn presentation to the ABG specifically demanded all these changes to the BMA as a condition precedent to his purported investment, and which they are now trying so desperately to deliver.

“It is completely absurd to claim the amending legislation is not designed and targeted to favour Caballus… when Caballus even ends up with a 40 per cent free interest, while also admitting Caballus/McGlinn cannot develop Panguna,” he said.

The landowner’s who now enjoy freehold ownership of the minerals and an array of other protection, will lose everything and become subservient to those in question if this new law is passed.” said Mr Miriori.

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MPs call for delay on Bougainville mining amendment

Radio New Zealand | 12 June 2019

A Bougainville parliamentary committee wants controversial legislation on mining to be delayed until after the autonomous Papua New Guinea region’s independence referendum.

The Bougainville government wants to amend the Mining Act, and two other bills, to give it greater control over mining activity.

The autonomous government said these changes would give landowners more control over their resources but there has been widespread opposition across Bougainville.

The plan to set up a company called Bougainville Advance Mining in association with newly set up Australian business, Caballus, sparked an outcry.

The Speaker of the ABG Parliament referred the matter to a Committee on Legislation, which undertook public consultations, before reporting back this week.

The committee says the Mining bill raised a lot of issues around landowners’ rights.

It worried about the creation of monopolies and the impact of the bills on the Constitution and the Peace Agreement.

It said all three measures needed further consultation before being re-drafted and submitted after October’s referendum.

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Bougainville Mining Act Changes Strongly Opposed By LOs

Post Courier | June 7, 2019

The chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA) has refuted claims by ABG vice-president Raymond Masono that he made on Radio NZ yesterday.

SMLOLA chairman Philip Miriori in a statement said: “The truth is… there is overwhelming opposition throughout Bougainville to the purported demanded changes to the Bougainville Mining Act.

“We have all signed a resolution confirming our strong opposition to these offensive changes to the law that seeks to strip us o our rights, without any fair real compensation whatsoever.

“Everyone understands the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) cannot afford to pay us a fair or a just compensation.”

SMLOLA special adviser Lawrence Daveona said this is an attack on all landowners in Bougainville.

“Why do they want to disrespect us and treat us so badly once again.

“It will be torn down by the Courts if rammed through the House of Representatives,” Mr Daveona said.

He said independent legal advice to the SMLOLA also confirms the Mining Act changes breaches no fewer than 10 separate sections of the Bougainville and PNG constitutions including:

  • S53 and s293 of the National Constitution; and
  • S23 (1), s44 (1) (b), s66(4), s178, s181, s180 (2) and s180 (3) of the Bougainville Constitution.

And based on legal advice, Mr Miriori said they believe the people are being misled when they (Mr Masono) say that the Mining Act changes will ensure landowners retain control of the minerals once they are extracted and give landowners greater control.

He challenged Mr Masono to provide the ABG’s independent legal advice. “Our advice tells us that the effect of the changes is to remove customary ownership of minerals and remove landowners veto rights.”

He said landowners do not even get one share, as all shares are held in a Trust and controlled and owned by the ABG. “Even the Pope has said that indigenous people must have the final say about their land.”

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PM puts ‘Take Back PNG’ on hold until 2025!

James Marape is seen at Government House after arriving to be sworn in as the new prime minister in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, May 30, 2019. Papua New Guinea Prime Minister’s Office/Handout via REUTERS

New PM now says no new resource laws until 2025!!!

PNG PM Says Resources Reforms Will Take Years

Tom Westbrook | Reuters | June 5, 2019,

New Papua New Guinea Prime Minister James Marape doubled down on his plans to earn more taxes from the gas-and-gold-rich country’s natural resources sector on Wednesday, but said major reform would not take effect for years.

That will come as a relief for oil giants such as France’s Total SA and ExxonMobil Corp which have done deals and were wondering if Marape would put them up for review.

Marape, a former finance minister, had the firms on notice last week when he was elected and promised he would be “taking back” the economy after the resignation of his predecessor, Peter O’Neill.

In an address broadcast around the rugby-league loving archipelago as thousands tuned in for the State of Origin match, a big derby in Australia screening afterwards, he promised to review resource laws in a “very, very big way,” but not quickly.

“While I’m speaking on natural resources, many of our corporate citizens amidst us will feel a little bit doubtful or will feel a little bit intimidated, will feel a little bit insecure,” he said.

“But you must not feel that way … I’m looking at 2025 in which we will migrate to a new legislative framework.”

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

He 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.

Mark Bristow, chief executive of the world’s second-biggest gold producer, Canada-listed Barrick Gold Corp, traveled to the capital, Port Moresby, to negotiate an extension to a large mining lease expiring in August.

Barrick and China’s Zijin Mining each owns 47.5 percent of the highlands’ Porgera mine, which Barrick said has paid 4.2 billion kina ($1.2 billion) in taxes and royalties since it began operations in 1990.

Oil Search Ltd, a partner in Exxon and Total’s multibillion dollar liquefied natural gas developments, has scheduled a meeting for next week, a spokesman said.

Marape’s remarks imply, as Total has said it expects, that April’s contract will be honored, but the changes he again forecast envisage a tougher approach in future.

“(I’ll be) looking to ensure that the oil and gas sector is beneficial to our country as well as our investors,” Marape said.

“We’ll be looking at the mining sector to ensure that our gains … are growing.”

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Gulf landowners welcome PNG PM’s stand on resource laws

James Marape the member for Tari Pori is the new prime minister of Papua New Guinea.

Radio New Zealand | 5 June 2019

Landowners in Papua New Guinea’s Gulf province have welcomed the new prime minister’s stand on resource laws.

James Marape said his government will review the country’s resource laws which he described as outdated.

Mr Marape and other MPs resigned from the Peter O’Neill-led government in April after it signed with French company Total for the $US13 billion Papua LNG gas project in Gulf.

They cited concerns that landowner interests were being undermined in the agreement, and that the O’Neill government had rushed the deal through without meeting mandatory requirements.

The high-level opposition to the project agreement has resonated with local landowners in Gulf Province.

The Purari Development Association general secretary Roy Daniel Evara said the agreement is flawed because the developer has dictated terms to PNG.

“The agreement itself did not comply to very critical pre-conditions of the Oil and Gas Act, which is the guiding pillar for the industry. An agreement should never dictate to the pillars of the country’s laws. It should only conform and comply with it.”

Roy Daniel Evara said the agreement’s provision for 2 percent equity for them was not enough.

Much of the discourse among MPs around last week’s change in leadership in PNG was about the need to address the uneven benefits from the country’s abundant resource wealth

Landowner communities in Mr Marape’s province, Hela, have been frustrated for several years over the lack of promised benefits from the country’s first LNG project, operated by Exxonmobil, which is also a partner in the Papua LNG Project.

“We do not intend to chase away our investors. They’re here to stay, we encourage them,” Mr Marape said.

“But we will look into maximising gain from what God has given this country, from our natural resources. This leadership is all about placing this country in the right place in taking back our economy.”

Mr Marape has borrowed the Take Back PNG mantra from Oro Governor Gary Juffa.

Mr Juffa argued the country isn’t truly independent because foreigners control its economy, saying PNG’s MPs need to devise laws that enable the country to take true ownership of its economy.

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Mining Subject To B’ville Govt

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

Post Courier | May 7, 2019

All mining, oil, and gas powers and functions belong to the Autonomous Bougainville Government, says ABG vice president and mining minister Raymond Masono.

Mr Masono said this in response to a news article titled “Bougainville admonished by O’Neill over planned mining change” which was posted on social media through Radio New Zealand on Monday, April 29.

The ABG mining minister said the the transfer of these powers from the national government to the ABG was signed in March 2008 at Alotau between the late president, Joseph Kabui, and the then deputy prime minister, Sir Puka Temu.

“This process was in turn completed when the ABG passed its own mining law in April, 2015,” Mr Masono said.

“The ABG mining act is unique in the sense that it recognises landowners as owners of the minerals beneath the ground and not the crown or the state as in Papua New Guinea.

“The proposed amendment further consolidates this ownership rights by giving landowners and the ABG controlling interest in any major mining development project, starting with the Panguna mine through a Bougainvillean mining entity that would own 60 per cent of the shares on behalf of the landowners, ABG and the people of Bougainville.

“The Bougainville entity is not Caballus, it is the Bougainville advance mining company,” he said

Mr Masono said contrary to the Rio Tinto Group-aligned special mining lease Osikaiyang landowners association (SMOLA) that the amendments take away landowner rights, the proposed amendments give landowners more and better benefits in terms of equity and royalties than they are currently entitled to under the existing law.

“But the Panguna mine no longer belongs only to the RTG sponsored SMOLA, rather the mine belongs also to the other eight mine-affected landowners, whose land was used for mining purposes in the 17 years of operations and who support the amendment,” he said.

“It also belongs to all Bougainvilleans because the blood of 20,000 lives was spilled over the mine by Bougainvilleans, who died fighting to protect these resources.”

He said Bougainvilleans have consented that the Panguna mine must reopen, but not with Bougainville Copper Ltd and certainly not with RTG, two firms that are no doubt sponsoring those opposed the amendments. Mr Masono said relevant agencies have conducted and continued to carry out awareness to correct the misinformation, deliberate misinterpretation that are being propagated by those opposed to the proposed amendments.

The ABG is not rushing its work, it will continue to consult with landowners and the people of Bougainville before it passes the amendments.

“In addition to these consultations, the people of Panguna are now engaged in their own traditional social mapping process called ‘tangurang’ to identify the true landowners,” he said.

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MASONO DEFENDS A DRACONIAN EDICT

Bougainville Indigenous Rights Advocate | 3 May, 2019

The article in the Post Courier, “Masono defends Bougainville Mining Amendment” dated 30/04/19, shows that Jeffrey McGlinn has certainly struck some deep chord in the heart of the cream of ABG politicians and bureaucrats a comprising of the President Dr. John Momis, Vice President Masono himself, Finance Minister Robin Wilson and the Mining Department Secretary, Cedric Himata.

In the article, Vice President open’s his “Che Guevaraic” delivery with the profound word “revolution”. What a choice of word to cloak the assault on the human rights of the landowners, to serve the interest of a foreigner who has dazzled the El Presidente’s gullible inner circle with a ridiculous promise of 60 percent share equity in a dubious Bougainville mining company, which obviously is already registered in the British Virgin Islands.

It is disheartening to see Vice President defending amendments that were written outside Bougainville by McGlinn’s lawyers obviously after going through the Bougainville Constitution and the Bougainville Mining Act 2015 (BMA 2015) with a fined tooth comb, hoping to find irregularities on which to base their absurd justification to amend a law that protects customary rights of landowners.

If the ABG is trying to use a flaw in the BMA 2015, conjured up overseas by foreign lawyers, to take control of ownership of the resources then landowners will be losers all over and again. In reality, Jeffrey McGlinn is trying to gain monopoly by duping the ABG with offer of fairy-tale 60 percent share equity which will decrease in value due to it’s incapability to raise funds. The consequence is such that the dilution of the shares in inevitable.

In the article Vice President Masono is quoted as saying:

“It is time now that we take the bull by the horn.

“We’ve been made to believe that only the white man and foreign companies can do mining for us.

I find this somewhat disturbing, because ABG after all has struck a deal with a “green man” Jeffrey McGlinn who mislead ABG about his companies extensive experiences in mining when “Caballus” was only founded recently.\

If the Vice President doesn’t already know, “Caballus” is poetic latin word for horse. That is what Jeffrey McGlinn is. A failed “white as snow” horse breeder.

Lastly, Vice President Masono’s revolution is debauchery and contravenes section 23 (1) which provides “The laws and policies of Bougainville shall be directed towards the recognition of customary rights of the people of Bougainville in relation the land and the sea, and natural, mineral and oil resources of Bougainville and any law relating to the development of such resources shall take that into account.”

Notice that the section says “Customary” Rights of the people. Landownership is customary in Bougainville and the BMA2015 specifies that.

This is ownership is further reinforced by Section 53 of the national Constitution of Papua New Guinea which talks about the protection from unjust deprivation of property. This is the very protection that is under threat from the ABG’s proposed amendment to BMA 2015.

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