Tag Archives: Panguna

Panguna landowners give big tick to mining but no to BCL

Radio New Zealand | 22 June 2017

The head of a landowners group controlling the site of the Panguna mine in Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville says it is keen to see a resumption of mining but will always be opposed to the return of Bougainville Copper Ltd.

BCL was the original operator of the mine and has been blamed for sparking the civil war.

Its former multi national owner, Rio Tinto, last year walked away, giving its shares to the PNG and Bougainville governments, rather face demands for compensation over the environmental and social damage blamed on the mine.

Last week this new look BCL was stopped by a protest march from signing a memorandum of agreement with the Panguna landowners – a move seen as the first move to re-open the Panguna mine and boost the region’s economy ahead of an independence vote in two years.

Not the least of BCL’s problems is that they were not dealing with the proper landowners and legal action has put a stay on the signing of the MOA.

The man they should have been talking to, Philip Miriori, the chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association, says he will never back BCL returning.

Mr Miriori, who also heads the Me’ekamui Government of Unity, explained the SML’s thinking to Don Wiseman.

PHILIP MIRIORI: It is the same legal company with enormous liabilities hanging on its shoulder and some much damage was done during their operations. So it is the same company.

DON WISEMAN: The thing here is of course that since Rio Tinto has walked away – it doesn’t have resources does it? In terms of that  environmental and social deficit that people like John Momis have talked about, this current version of BCL is never going to be in much of a position to do much about that is it?

PM: With BCL the ABG is saying it is a new company, but we don’t think it is a new company, it is the same company,, and the same management. People from Rio [Tinto] are still with the BCL arrangement, even now.

DW: Are there any circumstances under which the Me’ekamui Government of Unity and the SML Osikaiyang Landowners would ever accept BCL?

PM: I don’t think we will accept BCL to come back to Panguna. BCL has said it would attract development partners, but we don’t know this development partner, who is he? maybe it is the same Rio Tinto. They are looking to come back and work with BCL.

DW: So this protest last Thursday and Friday, the protest and the road block, did your people organise that?

PM: The people of Panguna especially the landowners and the women, our stand has always been clear – we don’t accept BCL to come back and with the protest march last Friday it is a common sense that the people have here in Panguna, that by not accepting BCL to come back they had to stand for their rights. So they [The ABG] can make any tricks under the sun but with the records that BCL have in the past it is just not going to work. The protest march was right, you know.

DW: last month you presented a petition to the ABG, more than 500 signatures. What has been the outcome of that?

PM: Well the outcome from the ABG was negative. I presented that petition myself to President Momis. The petition was signed by 550 people from Panguna – the SML [Osikaiyang landowners]. So no response from President Momis’s office, so these are the things that have brought the people together on the signing of the MOA.

DW: You are not opposed to mining are you? You clearly are interested in mining and you have linked up with this Australian miner called RTG. Why have you linked with them? Why have you chosen them?

PM: I am always for mining you know but not with BCL. We have this Australian company. We work with them for some time now and we built trust so we are not opposed to mining opening. We are for. We want the mine to open, to generate prosperity for our people and not with BCL. We don’t want BCL to come back you know.

DW: Let’s say RTG were to get an exploration licence, would you be keen for them to get in there and start doing the EL work, as it’s called, immediately and then the prospect of opening the mine as soon as possible.

PM: If we are given an exploration licence we will start immediately and also make clean up operations around Panguna.

DW: There are a lot of other landowning groups close by aren’t there and it would seem that you are at odds with them, or are you?

PM: Now I want to correct this. The other eight, or whatever, landowner associations – I think at this point in time they are irrelevant. They can come in when the mine is up running. They can make no decision on where the pit is, so right now, for me, it is irrelevant for those other organisations to make a decision over the SML [Osikaiyang Landowners]. The only entity, legal entity, is SML which I am chairman of.  

DW: Your message then to the ABG is that there is substantial opposition among the people who are on the land, or who have the land, around that enormous hole in the ground at Panguna, who are opposed to BCL coming in, but you are very keen on mining and you want to form an association with this Australian company, RTG.

PM: A proper awareness is what is needed now. To go right down to the people, you know, and tell them what is the advantage of re-opening the mine now, and the disadvantage of keeping that mine [shut] for ten years as BCL says. But to us I can see that we start the mine up now, so that we start generating the money and prepare for the referendum or whatever you know.         

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Panguna mine protesters “not landowners”

Sebastian Hakalits | Post Courier | 22 June, 2017 

The Vice President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government Raymond Masono has expressed disgust at the action of those calling themselves hardliners that recently prevented the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA).

The signing scheduled for June 16 2017 was to be done between the ABG and the Panguna Mine Affected Landowners (PMAL) and other stakeholders to the Panguna Mine.

Mr Masono said the signing would have started the process of removing impediments to reopening the Panguna Mine but the ABG team was prevented from travelling to Panguna for the signing by the group opposed to the reopening of the mine and Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL’s) return to redevelop the mine.

He said Bougainville is probably one of a few places in this country where individuals or groups disagreeing with a particular government policy can stop a legitimate government from carrying out its mandated duties for the common good of its citizens.

Mr Masono said this does not auger well for good governance, the rule of law and respect for lawful authority, that are important benchmarks in the ratification outcome of the referendum by the national government and the international community who are watching our every actions.

“What kind of signal are we sending to the United Nations and the rest of the international community with regards to Bougainville’s unity prior to the conduct of the referendum, as well as ratification by PNG and the support of the UN and the international community of the outcome,” Mr Masono asked.

The Vice President said it must also be understood that those opposed to the reopening of Panguna and the return of BCL are not landowners.

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Bougainville protestors given two weeks for re-think

Radio New Zealand | 20 June, 2017

The government in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region of Bougainville says it has given people opposed to a possible re-opening of the Panguna copper mine two weeks to re-think their opposition.

This comes after what Vice President Raymond Masono said was a few dozen people who last Friday blocked access roads for a government delegation wanting to sign a memorandum of agreement with Panguna landowners at Panguna in Central Bougainville.

The government says re-opening the mine, which was at the heart of the Bougainville civil war, is critical to the province developing some economic viability ahead of an independence vote in June 2019.

Mr Masono said the night before, government officials spent hours explaining to the protesters the importance of re-opening Panguna.

But he said Friday’s cancellation of the MOA signing was just a temporary setback.

“When they are ready, they will come to the ABG, (Autonomous Bougainville Government), and then we will organise for the signing ceremony for the MOA,” Mr Masono said.

“We consider this non-signing of the MOA as a temporary setback.”

The protesters, mostly women, said they are opposed to any discussion on a Panguna re-opening before the independence vote.

They also say they are adamantly opposed to Bougainville Copper Ltd, which used to run Panguna, having anything to do with a new operation.

BCL used to be majority owned by Rio Tinto but last year the multi national walked away from the mine and the associated demands for compensation and rehabilitation, giving its shares to the Bougainville and PNG Governments.

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Central Bougainville Women’s Group Against Mining

A group of Central Bougainville protested against the proposed Memorandum of Agreement signing on Wednesday June 14.

The women said they raised their concerns as they are the custodians of their land pass through their matrilineal lineage.

They were supported by the youth, men and children who protested against the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) saying they do not want the Bougainville Copper Limited come back to Panguna.

They carried placards and banners with some reading: “Women Own The Land”, “Do Not Dig My Land,” “BCL Not Welcomed in Panguna”, “Don’t create Another Bloodshed,”.

The march ended at the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association office, where they voiced their grievance to the former Chairman, Lawrence Daveona and his executives.

Panguna landowner, Bernadine Gemel Kama said, they have voiced their concerns to Mr Daveona, claiming they will sign the agreement which lacked their consent of women who are culturally the true landowners.

She also said the Panguna issue will cause division among the people of Bougainville because this mine has caused bloodshed of reeking war and destruction, with many lives lost during the civil war.

She said the Panguna Mine reopening, was an issue, in the interest for only a minority of people especially men, labelling it as which is a dangerous move by the Autonomous Bougainville Government, which a second crisis should not happen again.

And the message was clear, no mining, no BCL. And they are against the signing saying it must not proceed this Friday.

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Bougianville Chiefs prevent ABG from signing deal

Chiefs, mothers and daughters at the roadblock

PNG Loop | June 18, 2017

On Friday, women from the ‘Seven Sisters’ areas of Bougainville put up a strong roadblock at the Morgan Junction leading up to the Panguna Mine site.

This was where the proposed signing of the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was to be held between the Autonomous Bougainville Government and so-called Panguna landowners. The deal would see Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) return to reopen the Panguna Mine.

The impenetrable roadblock was led by women chief from the ‘seven sisters’ areas in Central Bougainville.

The mothers, together with their daughters, youths, ex-combatants and Bougainville Hardliners, set up the roadblock, which started on Thursday night throughout Friday; refusing to move for passing vehicles or negotiating team.

Their message was simple: ‘No BCL, No Mining’.

Woman chief from Guava Village, Maggie Mirau Nombo, and Chief from Arawa and Pirurari, Kavatai Baria, said their land is their Mother, who provides their everyday needs and no one is allowed to exploit her.

Chief Maggie, who is a former primary school teacher, said how can those wanting to sign the MOA conduct such an act of injustice?

She said this will never happen again because they have suffered enough from all the injustice that has been brought on by BCL when it was in operation.

She said God has heard the cry of the Bougainville women, and justice will prevail.

“As long as I am the Chief from Panguna and Guava Village and owner of my land, BCL is not welcome. This is the Company that has killed our sons and daughters. ABG has to stop ignoring the cries of the women and take note that BCL is never allowed to come back to Panguna, and this is final and it is not negotiable,” she said. 

Chief Kavatai also reminded everyone that ‘when God closes a door, no one can open it, and if God opens a door, no one can close it’. Panguna Mine was closed by God and if anyone was trying to reopen the Mine when it wasn’t God’s timing, then they better watch out because they are fighting against a big God.

Because of the strong opposition by the women, youths and Bougainville Hardliners, the high powered ABG delegation, led by President John Momis, returned to Buka on Friday afternoon without signing the MOA.

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BOUGAINVILLE: Landowner women protesters block mine pact, win court order

Panguna women landowner protesters — mothers from the mining affected areas and the women from Central Bougainville — have demanded the Autonomous Bougainville Government to properly address the Panguna Mine issue. Video: EMTV News

Asia Pacific Report/Pacific Media Watch | June 18, 2017

Panguna women protesters have blockaded the copper mine to prevent the signing of a memorandum of understanding by the Bougainville government with the company and also won a court injunction.

Justice Kandakasi ordered in the Waigani National Court on Friday that the MOA cannot be signed until further notice.

Philip Miriori, chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Inc., welcomed the restraining order.

He said it was good to see that protection from “unjust deprivation of property” under Section 53 of the Constitution of PNG – and preserved in the Constitution of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (Section 180) as adopted by the Bougainville Constituent Assembly at Buin on 12 November 2004 – was being enforced.

The Bougainville Freedom Movement also congratulated the women of Bougainville and their supporters for stopping the Bougainville government on Friday from signing a new agreement for Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) to reopen the Panguna mine.

The National Court order supporting the Panguna women landowners seeking to block Bougainville Copper Limited. Image: PMC

“The handpicked BCL landowners who were supposed to sign the agreement for the company were brought to a halt, thanks to the road block protest held on Friday,” said BFM’s Vikki John.

The Panguna mine was abandoned by in 1989 after frustration by landowners erupted into a decade-long armed uprising and a push for Bougainville independence from Papua New Guinea.

‘Seven sisters’ roadblock
Loop PNG reports
: “The impenetrable roadblock was led by women chief from the ‘seven sisters’ areas in Central Bougainville.

The mothers, together with their daughters, youths, ex-combatants and Bougainville hardliners, set up the roadblock, which started on Thursday night and lasted throughout Friday. They refused to move for passing vehicles or negotiating team.

“Their message was simple: ‘No BCL, No Mining’.

A woman chief from Guava Village, Maggie Mirau Nombo, and a chief from Arawa and Pirurari, Kavatai Baria, said their land was their ‘Mother’, who provided their everyday needs and no one was allowed to exploit her.

“Chief Maggie, who is a former primary school teacher, said how could those wanting to sign the MOA conduct such an act of injustice?

“She said this would never happen again because they had suffered enough from all the injustice that had been brought on by BCL when it was in operation.

“She said God had heard the cry of the Bougainville women, and justice would prevail:

“As long as I am the Chief from Panguna and Guava Village and owner of my land, BCL is not welcome. This is the company that has killed our sons and daughters. ABG has to stop ignoring the cries of the women and take note that BCL is never allowed to come back to Panguna, and this is final and it is not negotiable,” she said.

“Chief Kavatai also reminded everyone that ‘when God closes a door, no one can open it, and if God opens a door, no one can close it’.

“Panguna Mine was closed by God and if anyone was trying to reopen the mine when it wasn’t God’s timing, then they had better watch out because they were fighting against a big God.

“Because of the strong opposition by the women, youths and Bougainville hardliners, the high-powered ABG delegation, led by President John Momis, returned to Buka on Friday afternoon without signing the MOA.”

The Papua New Guinea 2017 general election is June 24 until July 8.

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Bougainville Copper Limited’s Panguna mine hits roadblock from protesters

Opponents blocked the road and demanded the Government and BCL abandon their plans. (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

CONTENT WARNING: Contains some very sloppy journalism with opinion presented as fact

Eric Tlozek | ABC | 17 June 2017

The push to reopen a controversial copper mine on the island of Bougainville has suffered a setback, with opposition groups stopping the region’s government from going to the mine site and signing a new agreement with landowners.

The Panguna mine was abandoned by Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) in 1989 after disaffection from landowners grew into an armed uprising and a push for independence from Papua New Guinea.

The President and Cabinet of the Autonomous Bougainville Government had planned to go to the Panguna mine site to sign an agreement that would allow BCL to work towards reopening the mine.

But so-called “hardline” groups and other opponents, led by angry women [who, on Bougainville, control the land, not men], blocked the road and demanded the Government and the company abandon their plans.

BCL blamed for crisis and ‘destruction’

Many [many? how many? is this a fact, supposition or guesswork?] of the women were not from the specific mine area but say they were affected by the horror of the Bougainville Crisis — the armed uprising in which 20,000 people died.

Many of the protesters are opposed to BCL because they blame it for the Bougainville Crisis. (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

“I don’t want mining to be opened, no BCL, no mining. Because land is owned by the women, not the men,” said Regina Erengmari, one of the women in the blockade.

Many of the protesters are specifically opposed to BCL returning, because they blame it for the crisis.

But others, like Bernardine Kama, are opposed to any company reopening the mine.

“I grew up within the damages and the destructions of the mine and I know much destruction has been done,” she said.

But there are many [many suggests a majority but where is the evidence?] people from the area who want negotiations about reopening the mine to begin.

Panguna’s nine landowner associations were expecting to sign a memorandum of agreement with the Autonomous Bougainville Government to say the mine would reopen and that BCL would operate it.

Theresa Jaintong, who chairs one of the landowner associations, said signing the agreement is important.

“It’s important to me because I have issues to address with BCL and also the government, all other landowners and also representing my own people, and we were looking forward to sign and then open the door to other outstanding issues,” she said.

Protesters blocked the Government going to the site and signing a new agreement with owners. (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

Government needs mine’s revenue for independence [unsubstantiated opinion presented as fact]

Bougainville’s government is in a hurry to reopen the mine, because it needs the revenue if it wants to be viable as an independent country from Papua New Guinea[again, unsubstantiated opinion presented as fact]

President John Momis said the mine is critical to any proposal for independence.

“Will independence be possible without Panguna mine? I don’t think it is possible,” he said.

The Government is now waiting two weeks while the groups negotiate and is planning a public information campaign.

In two years’ time, there will be a referendum on Bougainville to determine if the region should secede from Papua New Guinea.

Some opponents have threatened violence if the proposal to reopen the mine proceeds.

But President Momis says the Government will continue to work towards reopening Panguna, because it believes it’s the best way to provide for the people most affected by its closure.

“This government is committed to make sure that people who have been most detrimentally affected, and the landowners have been in Panguna, we have to look after them,” he said.

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