Tag Archives: Panguna

B’ville ex-combatants threaten violence against Panguna family

Photo: Leonard (far left) and other family members under threat

Leonard Fong Roka | PNG Attitude | 17 August, 2017

IT was reminiscent of the event in which our father was killed by the Bougainville Revolutionary Army on 18 March 1993 during the peak of the Bougainville conflict.

On that day, armed men located themselves at the assassination scene and lied to someone they met and told him to call our father to the scene of his death.

On this occasion, Panguna New Generation Leaders tricked someone to call us to a place for something good but when we reached it, dozens of men appeared and began intimidating us. A number were under the influence of liquor.

Panguna New Generation Leaders consists of former BRA men who are aggressively campaigning for the re-opening of the Panguna mine with funding from the Panguna Negotiations Office of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).

The threats have been continuing for almost three weeks.

The crisis sprouted from a belief that “where the population is illiterate, the literate cannot move an inch”. The Roka family was acting in a capacity that we should do something for the government instead of waiting for the government to do something for us.

One of my sisters is a member of Melanesian Indigenous Land Defense Alliance (MILDA), formed in 1997 at Madang to advocate for the freedom of the West Papuans and on other critical issues affecting Melanesia.

MILDA had its last conference in Solomon Islands. My sister attended and saw the need for MILDA input to the Bougainville referendum.

MILDA saw that the PNG government had great influence on the Bougainville Peace Agreement, which is still a problem the ABG is dealing with. The PNG government does not respect the peace agreement by complying with its commitments.

The MILDA conference for Bougainville was to be held in the Panguna District from 14-18 August. The aim was for MILDA to listen to the locals express their needs for the coming referendum and to start supporting Bougainville in lobbying for support within the Melanesian states.

MILDA also sees that Bougainville should have a seat in the Melanesian Spearhead Group and alongside other Pacific organisations but has not reached this point yet.

But, according to Panguna New Generation Leaders, the Roka family with MILDA was interfering with the ongoing re-opening of Panguna mine.

Its leaders Henry Pipino, Junior Itamari and community government officer Francis Nasinui said at their first meeting with us that they had won the hearts of all ex-combatants in Bougainville and the Rokas were here to destroy that effort and the future of Bougainville.

They claimed the Rokas do not have respect for their authority despite us showing them the documents of approval from the ABG and other authorities. They said we are showing off with our university degrees and destroying the Panguna people.

Then they ordered the MILDA officials who were here from New Caledonia, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and PNG to depart Panguna.

They said they had prepared excavators to block MILDA and Roka family access to Arawa if they continued their conference in Panguna.

They also said they would smash the Rokas and any local community members and women’s groups supporting us.

They said former Panguna combatants are fighters and do not fear and will not hesitate to destroy anybody that sabotages the Panguna re-opening.

The MILDA conference for Bougainville was not terminated, however, people who wanted to listen to what our fellow islanders had to say about the Bougainville referendum moved it to Arawa where it progressed away from some of the most politically confused people of Bougainville.

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ABG Chief Secretary petitioned to vacate office

Eric Tamaan & Luke Lalu | NBC News via PNG Facts | 16 August 2017

The Chief Secretary of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Joseph Nobetau has been given 48 hours by the North Bougainville Ex-Combatants, to resign and vacate the office.

This notice was given yesterday and was amongst their demands in a 3-page-signed-petition presented through an ABG official because Mr Nobetau was not present.

According to NBC News,  their protest was over the conduct of the ABG Chief Secretary, citing instability caused by biased decisions portraying nepotism and regionalism.

The ABG Chief Auditor, Peter Tsiperau, has also been given 48 hours to produce overdue audit reports on funds spent in the name of development projects, some of which have never got off the ground.

The ex-combatants are demanding that these audit reports be presented to the Ombudsman Commission, on Friday August 18.

ABG President, John Momis is aware of the move taken by the ex-combatants.

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Women have the final say on Panguna

Rorovana women resist Rio Tinto bulldozers, August 1969

A reply to BCL from Bougainville

Although the reports seems to be all positive that BCL claims to be making some headway towards their plan to re-open the Panguna mine, let us not forget that it’s the Panguna women who are real owners and custodians of the land, and therefore they have the power and the final say whether or not the mine can be re-opened or not.

It’s all very well to say that PNG Government, ABG and the landowners or who else are supportive of reopening the mine. But if the women cannot be convinced and allow the mine to be reopened, we are just wasting our time and giving false high hopes to the potential investors.

That’s the basic and fundamental requirement, isn’t it ? We must listen to the women because without their green light, nothing goes ahead unless force has to be used again just like in the early 70s when the Australian colonial administration decided to use the riot squad to beat up the Rorovana women at Loloho Beach when they tried to stop the bulldozers from forcefully taking over their land to build the present day seaport at Loloho.

If we have not learnt anything at all from this very sad past history, than we are simply refusing to admit the truth and ignoring our conscience to do the right thing.

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BCL Holds First Meeting After 27 Years

Sebastian Hakalits | Post Courier | August 3, 2017

For the first time after 27 years, Bougainville Copper Limited held its first directors’ meeting in Buka today (Wednesday, 3 August).

During the meeting the company also briefed members of the nine landowner associations of Panguna who were also present on their community engagement plans.

Chairman Robert Burns described the meeting as being very productive and further said that he welcomed the support given by the Autonomous Bougainville Government President Chief Dr John Momis and his Vice President Mr Raymond Masono.

“This is something of a historic moment for holding the meeting in Buka for the first time after 27 years and I also appreciate the strong level of support given by the landowners as we had the opportunity to talk with them,” Mr Burns said.

Many of the landowners present said they were very happy to be part of the meeting as they were able to get briefs from the executives.

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Panguna Must Not Be Opened

The Panguna Mine Must Not Be Opened As There Were No Proper Consultations With Immediate Affected Land Owners At The Lower Tailings Area, Says Mr William Kareoto.

Sebastian Hakalits | Post Courier | July 27, 2017

The Panguna mine must not be opened as there were no proper consultations with immediate affected land owners at the lower tailings area, says Mr William Kareoto.

“We were the most affected in terms of land mess, population, and environmental than the land owners within the mine pit area or known as the Special Mining Lease area.”

“If BCL is to come back, they must first address the legacy issues as this are the very issues that started the Bougainville crisis and this legacy issues must not be negotiated later when the mine is in operation,” said Mr Kareoto.

He said the K10 billion that the late Francis Ona demanded must be paid in full to the people of Bougainville as compensation in form of infrastructure divided into districts to cover for lives that were lost during the crisis and the lease agreement and land owner benefits must be negotiated and agreed by all parties before negotiations for reopening is to be done.

Mr Kareoto said as a citizen of the affected areas of the lower tailings area, before any reopening negotiations is done, BCL must show us their Waste Disposal Management Plan as they have in the past polluted and bleached our environment with toxic chemicals and waste which is still evident today.

“Without this waste disposal management plan BCL won’t reopen the mine and I warn ABG, BCL and self- interest land owners that what they are doing without proper consultation may lead to another up raising by the people living around and along lower tailings,” said Mr Kareoto.

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BCL determined not to take no for an answer!

Firm set to intensify community engagement

The National aka The Loggers Times | July 18, 2017

Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) is set to intensify its community engagement activities as part of a comprehensive, staged development plan for a new Panguna mining project.

BCL chairman Rob Burns said a genuine commitment to stakeholder engagement underpinned the development plan and the company was putting in place resources and personnel to step up its on-the-ground activities in Bougainville over the coming months.

“We understand that building trust and widespread support among all relevant parties, as well as the people of Bougainville, is essential if the aim of renewing mining at Panguna is to be realised,” Burns said in a statement on the company’s website.

“By working collaboratively with all groups, we have every confidence that outstanding issues can be resolved and the necessary benchmarks can be met for the project to advance.”

BCL noted recent comments by a third-party company, RTG Mining Inc, that it had been nominated by one of nine landowner associations as a development partner in a Panguna project.

Burns said it was important to stress that BCL’s first right to develop the Panguna tenement was clear and unambiguous under the Bougainville Mining Act 2015.

He also noted RTG’s pledge to “fully respect” this right.

“There can be no doubt that we are committed to exercising our right through the implementation of our development plan, which has the full backing of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and broad endorsement among the landowner associations,” he said.

Burns said it was unfortunate that there was some dispute over the leadership of one of the nine landowner associations and Bougainville Copper Limited was hopeful of a lasting resolution of the issue and would continue to work with landowners.

“We know there are people with different views, but equally, we are encouraged by the levels of support we have received to date and will work hard to further build our relationships,” Burns said.

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Global mining major needed to re-open Bougainville’s Panguna copper mine?

 Kevin McQuillan | Business Advantage | 18 July 2017

Moves to re-open the Panguna copper mine on Bougainville are gathering momentum. Funding the re-opening is a key concern, however, says Bougainville President, John Momis. Could one of the global mining majors get involved?

Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) is currently advertising for a local Bougainville-based manager, and are looking at the payment of K14 million in rent and compensation that was owed to the 812 customary clan groups who own the blocks of land within the mining lease areas.

Autonomous Bougainville Government President John Momis tells Business Advantage PNG, that over the next year, he expects BCL to open an office and ‘start dealing with some of the legacy issues, demonstrating BCL’s commitment, in a just and fair way, to some of the real issues that have been bothering the land owners.’

That includes, he says, the ecological, environmental, and health damage issues caused by former owner, Rio Tinto.

‘They have walked away, so now BCL has to address that.’

Momis says the Joint Steering Committee preparing for the mine’s re-opening consists of representatives from the nine official landowner groups, BCL, the national government, and the ABG, and is to be chaired by an independent chairman.

Funding

A key challenge is the cost of reopening the mine; back in 2012, BCL estimated it would be US$5 billion.

‘BCL has to demonstrate to us they have ability to solicit funds and attract a developer and I’m sure they are thinking about this,’ says Momis, pointing out that under Bougainville’s 2014 Mining Act, BCL has first right of refusal about re-opening the mine.

‘The Panguna mine is a “high-risk, high-return” investment.’

‘We are giving BCL the opportunity to get funds and to meet the conditions as per the mining law. If they fail, then other companies will have to apply and be put through this process.’

High-risk, high-return

Mining industry analysts describe the Panguna mine as a ‘high-risk, high-return’ investment, which only global miners would be interested in.

Greg Evans, KPMG’s Perth-based Global Leader, Mining Mergers and Acquisitions, believes there will be considerable interest.

‘If you look at what the resource is, and what it can deliver to both an owner and investor—and, probably more importantly, the local economy—it would have to be a definitive “yes”.

‘The copper price is heading in the right direction, the supply metrics are working in the favour of copper broadly and I would expect that BCL are being approached reasonably regularly by a number of metals traders.’

Evans points to growing demand for copper, noting that batteries in electric vehicles are likely to use 927,000 tonnes of copper a year by 2030, according to forecasts by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. That alone equates with 5 per cent of current production.

Global

Evans believes a global miner, ‘like Glencore or similar’, is likely to become involved.

‘KPMG just completed a survey around transaction activity across a bunch of sectors. In the mining sector, the preference of the majors was particularly for joint ventures at the asset level.

‘Batteries in electric vehicles are likely to use 927,000 tonnes of copper a year by 2030.’

‘To me, that would be the form that a transaction would likely take. BCL would ensure the social licence to operate, and look after stakeholder management, political and administrative management on the ground, with perhaps a partner coming in providing financial and operational support.

‘So, it is likely to be a large industry player used to dealing in remote locations, eliciting strong local community engagement, and creating local employment as an obligation and priority. All those things are going to be required.’

Risks

Satish Chand, Professor of Finance at the University of New South Wales and based at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra, says risk assessment will be crucial.

‘There has been a history of conflict where a very small number within the population has the ability to stop a very large mine. That risk remains.

‘There is a contest over the distribution of proceeds and that has not yet been settled to my understanding. There is little that is known about the magnitude of the cost involved in the clean up.’

Chand notes that the Bougainville Mining Act says 51 per cent of the mine must be locally-owned. The non-binding referendum on Bougainville’s independence from PNG scheduled for 2019 must also be considered a ‘risk’.

Greg Evans agrees the local shareholding requirement makes the financing prospect ‘more challenging’.

‘The biggest successes that the majors have had in countries such as Africa and South America, have been where they’ve engaged local communities, shared the profits, and shared the benefits. The control over how those profits flow and are allocated is equally the challenge—as it is the solution.

‘You’ve always got to come back to the quality of the resource; which will always make it attractive.’

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