Tag Archives: Philip Miriori

Group scotches Bougainville Copper claims of support

Radio New Zealand | 12 June 2018

Bougainville Copper (BCL) is making misleading claims about the support it has for re-starting mining at Panguna, a landowner group says.

The company ran the massive Panguna mine before it was shut down by the civil war on Bougainville more than 20 years ago.

The Osikaiang Landowners Association at the mine site has taken its concerns to the Australian Stock Exchange and the Australian Securities and Investment Commission.

Its chairman, Philip Miriori, said BCL claimed to have strong backing from Bougainville landowners, but he said a survey of them undertaken by Osikaiang, which has links with a rival mining company, proves otherwise.

“With that 400 number, the number I am telling you, we don’t want BCL coming back. That is straight forward you know. We don’t want BCL to come back. That number speaks for itself, 400, – they’re the ones with me saying ‘No BCL’. BCL never to come back.”

BCL had asserted that the 367 authorised customary heads of the 510 blocks of land within the special mining lease area of Panguna do not recognise Mr Miriori as the Osikaiang chair, and back BCL’s exploration licence.

But Mr Miriori said the Osikaiang survey covered this same group of landowners.

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‘Bougainville won’t fall for more false claims from BCL’

Photo: Catherine Wilson/IPS

Philip Miriori (Chairman) and Lawrence Daveona (Ex Chairman) SMLOLA | 4 June 2018

HOW CAN BOUGAINVILLE COPPER LIMITED BELIEVE WE AND OUR AUTONOMOUS BOUGAINVILLE GOVERNMENT WILL FALL FOR MORE OF THEIR FALSE CLAIMS OF RESPECT FOR BOUGAINVILLE AND ITS PEOPLE?

Bougainville Copper Limited (“BCL”) continues to insult and disrespect Bougainville: the Panguna Customary Landowners by the recent statements made by BCL’s Chairman, Mr Mel Togolo and the ABG by their treatment at their Annual General Meeting blocking their vote.

Why did BCL not work with the ABG in advance to ensure they could have their say at the meeting if they are genuinely trying to mend fences with Bougainville and lose their mantle of being a PNG controlled company?” asked Mr Philip Miriori, the Chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (“SMLOLA”).

Mr Miriori said “we know the new BCL Chairman has his trainer wheels on, but this is unbelievable! How many world class mines has he developed? Wasn’t he the guy who sat on the Rio controlled BCL Board in the bad old days – for 6 or 7 years? Isn’t he the PNG country manager for the environmentally controversial deep sea mining start up, Nautilus Minerals? Why would we want any of that?”

Then there is the false attempt to blame third parties for the opposition by the Panguna Customary Landowners: this reflects the continuing failure on the part of BCL to even acknowledge the historic environmental havoc wreaked on the Panguna Land by BCL and the role of BCL in the devastating conflict in Bougainville. “Do they think we have forgotten or forgiven – no never” says Mr Miriori.

Mr Miriori, says “The failure of BCL’s Chairman, Mr Togolo, to acknowledge the historic wrongs committed against the people of Bougainville is totally unacceptable. The wilful blindness of BCL, its failure to admit its role in causing the environmental devastation to our land and its failure to rehabilitate or provide compensation for the damage, condemns BCL from ever obtaining SMLOLA’s approval or support. Trying to blame third parties for this is both naïve and arrogant – it is a flimsy and dishonest attempt to divert attention from their failure to win any aspect of social licence to return to Bougainville. That is and will always be the problem.”

Mr Miriori said “it is simple, BCL has one of the worst environmental and social impact records in the world and has not been welcome to return to Panguna in 30 years – yet they claim strong Landowner support. Just more lies!”

Prominent SMLOLA member Mr Lawrence Daveona supported Mr Miriori’s comments saying “BCL’s operations at the Panguna Mine were the cause of the devastating conflict on Bougainville. That is why they have been unwelcome in Bougainville for the last 30 years. It was the height of arrogance to think they could win community support without any reconciliation. They have ignored us and tried to go around “the impediments” – the owners of the minerals and have tried to simply pull political strings. The recent BCL attempt to curry favour and scramble to regain tenure to their old mine has been a disaster, just like their treatment of our lands and people – after 30 years of neglect and arrogance, how surprising!”

Mr Daveona said “our President Momis summed it up perfectly when he said BCL did not deserve the renewal because their attitudes to Landowners had not changed from the past.”

Mr Miriori spelt out what he said “were obvious facts:

  • BCL has achieved no reconciliation with the Customary Landowners for 30 years;
  • BCL has not attempted discussions with the current Court sanctioned SMLOLA Chairman and Executive even once; 
  • BCL has failed to acknowledge its role in Bougainville’s tragic history;
  • BCL has offered no compensation for the environmental and social impact of BCL’s massive profit taking operations at the Panguna Mine;
  • BCL has offered no assistance to rebuild Bougainville post resolution of the conflict; 
  • BCL has undertaken no remedial action to address the massive environmental damage from its past operations; and
  • BCL has made no attempt to identify the needs of the Customary Landowners and engage with the community.;

Mr Miriori said “it was outrageous that BCL untruthfully claimed it held unanimous Landowner consent when there was an existing petition with more than 2,000 SMLOLA members rejecting BCL’s return to Panguna. BCL has insulted the Customary Landowners by referring to them as ‘impediments to be removed’ and more recently, ‘disruptive influences’. This shows a contempt for the rights of Customary Landowners and the people.

Mr Miriori said “how could they have been surprised – they have never had majority Landowner support. Have they forgotten their 30 year history of devastation they never seem to mention now?”

Mr Daveona supported the ABG’s decision saying “BCL had an EL for two years from 2014 to 2016 and even had a further 15 months after the expiry of EL 1 and still they could not win Landowner support. The refusal of that application has been very positive for the Landowners and allowed us to bring an end to the social disharmony their false claims caused and to build an even stronger opposition to their return. The Landowners are now fully united against BCL. BCL should leave and respect the wishes of Landowners.”

President Dr John Momis of the ABG stated on 8 January 2018, in a public interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, that the BCL Application had been denied by the ABG because of the Panguna legacy Issues and consequently the inability of BCL to gain a social licence. He observed BCL’s attitude towards Customary Landowners had not changed and therefore that BCL did not deserve an extension. It was noted that at the Warden’s Hearing in December 2017 almost all those who spoke referred to these significant and continuing legacy issues and the need for BCL to pay compensation.

President Momis was entirely correct in his observation and the recent statements by BCL’s Chairman show a contempt not only for the Customary Landowners but also for the ABG itself.

Mr Miriori agreed saying “BCL was the tenement holder during the time which systemic damage to the environment and river systems occurred. The Panguna mine was at the centre of the conflict.” It is reported 20,000 Bougainvillean people died in this conflict. This is the incontrovertible factual truth of BCL’s legacy.

These events are of global significance and to this day are fundamental to the vast majority of the Panguna Customary Landowners and Bougainvilleans opposing BCL’s return.

BCL made a formal decision to not acknowledge responsibility, to not say ‘sorry’ and to not pay any fair compensation for these events and the massive damage. These deliberate commercial decisions (to save BCL money and to not acknowledge its past wrongdoings) are fatal to BCL’s attempt to return to Panguna.”

As the highly respected community leader, Mr Sam Kauona said at the Warden’s Hearing, BCL can never be allowed to return to Panguna. The petition opposing BCL’s return has more than 2,000 supporters. The majority of those attending and speaking at the independent Warden’s Hearing in December 2017 opposed BCL’s return.

The continued failure to have regard to the opinion of the Customary Landowners, Mr Miriori says, “shows an arrogance and on-going disrespect.” He powerfully criticises BCL’s attempt to divert the blame from its own conduct “This arrogance and ongoing disrespect of the Landowners’ clear wishes perpetuates the tragic legacy of BCL/Rio, and with every day that passes, further compounds and entrenches the opposition of the overwhelming majority of Panguna Landowners to BCL. Let us now look forward not backward to a new deal for Bougainville. BCL is finished. Its attempt to cause even further delays to the successful redevelopment and reopening of the mine blocks and delays employment opportunities, the funding of critically needed community programs and obtaining of financial benefits for all Bougainvilleans.”

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Landowners disappointed with BCL

PNG Loop | April 29, 2018

The Special Mine Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association Inc has expressed disappointment with Bougainville Copper Ltd’s conduct.

In a statement, SMLOLA chairman, Philip Miriori, and his advisor Lawrence Daveona say BCL has shown that they have not changed or learnt any lessons “from the tragic history they put us through”.

“The Warden’s Hearing could not have been a stronger message from our community – BCL is not welcome at Panguna ever, yet they try and say they have majority landowner support.

“Respect the call of the people and the Government and leave.

“The decision of the ABG to deny their purported renewal application has been incredibly positive for our landowners, allowing the real facts to come to light and getting rid of the menace that was trying to divide our people. We are now united behind a fresh new development of Panguna with our preferred developer, RTG Mining Inc. and want nothing to do with BCL again.”

The following comments are in response to the 2017 Annual Report of BCL which was released to the Australian Stock Exchange recently.

Miriori says for a company that:

  • Has been given almost 30 years to fix up their failings of the past with no progress;
  • Accepted a further 2 year exploration licence under the very Bougainville Mining Act they now conveniently say is illegal;
  • Sought a renewal of the exploration licence under the very Bougainville Mining Act they now conveniently say is illegal;
  • Were given a further 18 months after the expiry of their 2 year exploration licence to secure landowner support and still failed throughout that 3 and half year period to overcome or even acknowledge the legacy issues and win landowner support;
  • Attended a Warden’s Hearing under the very Bougainville Mining Act they now conveniently say is illegal and failed;

They now try and cry wolf saying they have been treated unfairly and actually have strong landowner support despite the obvious facts. How naïve do they think the landowners and the ABG are?

Daveona says:

“I know BCL well, I sadly supported them for 34 years till 2017 but I have now seen the truth.

“My fellow SMLOLA members are now all united against the return of BCL at any time. We will not be taken advantage of again. Even if they tried to finally step up and listen to us and compensate us for the past, it is too late, we cannot trust them. Too many broken promises.”

Miriori adds:

“The Annual Report accuses the ABG of expropriating BCL’s Panguna mine assets in breach of the Bougainville Copper Agreement Act 1967; the same Bougainville Mining Act that they were happy to take advantage of and use to prolong their involvement in Panguna.

“They also say the ABG has no legal powers in respect to mining on Bougainville and that the ABG has now illegally expropriated its mine. Could there be any greater show of disrespect for our ABG and Bougainville at large?”

The landowners have made their choice on the redevelopment of Panguna and are committed to working with the ABG to implement a successful new mine that will benefit all Bougainvilleans.

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RTG Mining raises US$34M to re-develop Panguna mine

PHOTO: Philip Miriori’s Me’ekamui group has entered into a joint venture with RTG mining. (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

RTG Mining

The Board of RTG Mining Inc. is pleased to announce that the Company has received commitments to raise approximately US$34 million in a private placement to Australian and international institutional and sophisticated investors.

Hartleys Limited, together with Trump Securities LLC, acted as Joint Lead Managers to the Private Placement.

The Private Placement was oversubscribed, reflecting the strong institutional interest in RTG’s proposal with a landowner lead consortium to secure an exploration licence at the high tonnage copper-gold Panguna Project in Bougainville PNG and the development of the high grade copper/gold/magnetite Mabilo Project in the Philippines.

The Private Placement will result in the issue of approximately 311 million Chess Depository Instruments (“Securities”) to be listed on the ASX at an issue price of A$0.14 per Security, representing a 12.5% discount to RTG’s last closing price on the ASX of A$0.16.

Net proceeds of the Private Placement will be used:

  • to advance the interests of RTG in the proposal to secure a role as the development partner with the landowner consortium led by the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (“SMLOLA”), at the old Panguna Mine in Bougainville;
  • to progress the arbitration process to con rm the 100% interest of Mt. Labo Exploration and Development Corporation in the Mabilo Project in the Philippines and consider additional drilling at the site;
  • to pursue new potential business development opportunities; and
  • for working capital and general corporate purposes.

Commenting on the success of the Private Placement, RTG’s President & CEO Justine Magee said:

“We are extremely pleased with the strong support that RTG has received for the Private Placement from a number of new high quality international institutions, as well as from our existing shareholder base.

Following completion of the Placement, RTG will be in a strong financial position with cash and liquid assets of circa US$33.5 million net of fees to brokers, leaving RTG well-funded to progress various business development opportunities and continue to seek to build a social licence to sustainably redevelop the Panguna Project in Bougainville.”

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Landowners and companies in new battle for Panguna mine, which triggered Bougainville Crisis

PHOTO: Panguna landowners are arguing about which company should restart mining. (ABC News: Bethanie Harriman)

 Eric Tlozek | ABC News | 10 February 2018

The race to reopen one of the world’s biggest copper mines, Panguna, is dividing landowners and the wider community in Bougainville.

Key points:

  • Local leader Philip Miriori says activity at the Panguna mine would bring “prosperity” and “better infrastructure” to the community
  • Bougainville’s President says the Government is keen to restart the mine to boost its case for independence
  • Not all landowners around the mine are happy with the stalemate, or with RTG’s push to leapfrog former operator BCL

Panguna was abandoned in 1989, after landowner dissatisfaction with the mine led to the Bougainville Crisis, an armed uprising against the Papua New Guinea Government in which 20,000 people died.

Now mining companies are trying to come back, right as Bougainville prepares to vote on whether it should become an independent nation.

Philip Miriori is a local leader who wants mining to resume.

“The Panguna mine must reopen,” he said.

“That is going to bring prosperity. We need to see our kids go to school. We need better hospitals, better infrastructure.”

Mr Miriori leads a group called the Me’ekamui and has been battling through the courts and mediation to become chairman of the landowner association of the mine pit, the SMLOLA (Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association).

“I think unity for the resource owners is important, before anything else,” he said.

“Without the unity, I don’t think we can achieve anything.”

Mr Miriori’s Me’ekamui group has entered into a joint venture with Perth company RTG Mining, which is making a bold bid to reopen Panguna.

PHOTO: Philip Miriori’s Me’ekamui group has entered into a joint venture with RTG mining. (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

“What I was interested in with RTG is a social licence [to mine],” Mr Miriori said.

“I don’t want to get anything for myself, I want to see my people benefit.”

But Mr Miriori and other supporters are being paid by RTG, an arrangement the Bougainville Government has criticised.

Mr Miriori said the payments were legitimate salaries, not inducements for people’s support.

“That is always a normal part of anything, nothing is free,” he said.

“The world has changed. People are educated. So there’s no bribery there.”

RTG’s bid and Philip Miriori’s push for leadership of the landowner association has disrupted a sustained effort by the mine’s former operator, Bougainville Copper Limited, or BCL, to return to Panguna.

BCL is part-owned by the Bougainville Government and had an exploration licence and first right of refusal over the site.

But the Bougainville Government has now rejected BCL’s application to extend that licence, and put an indefinite moratorium on any mining at Panguna.

PHOTO: The Panguna mine is one of the world’s biggest copper mines. (AAP Image: Ilya Gridneff)

Bougainville’s President, John Momis, said the issue of mining had become too sensitive.

“A lot of people are against mining, any mining at all, and mostly against BCL, because of its past,” he said.

Landowners at loggerheads as referendum looms

Mr Momis said the Government does not want conflict at the mine to distract from a scheduled referendum next year on whether Bougainville should secede from Papua New Guinea.

He said the Government may have been overly keen to restart the mine, because it wanted the revenue to boost its case for independence.

“Panguna is a very, very difficult issue for all the things that happened in the past,” Mr Momis said.

“So maybe we were pushing things too hard because of our desire to meet our fiscal self-reliance target.”

Not all the landowners around the mine are happy with the stalemate, or with RTG’s push to leapfrog BCL.

Jeffrey Clason’s mother is one of the mine landowners, and he said many people want BCL to resume mining.

“I think the majority of the landowners are still with BCL and I think as the Mining Act says, they’re the last people to say yes or no, it’s their land,” he said.

“So, for the landowners, BCL is still welcome.”

PHOTO: Bougainvillean Bernadine Kama says she does not want mining to restart at Panguna at all. (ABC News: Eric Tlozek)

Some Bougainvilleans, like Bernadine Kama — who comes from a village near the mine, don’t want mining to restart at Panguna at all.

“We’ve already seen the damage and destruction done to our land,” she said.

The Bougainville Government said it will come up with a new strategy for Panguna, and will continue consultation with landowners about whether it should be mined, and who should mine it.

But in the meantime, Bougainville Copper Limited is pursuing court action against the Government, which is not only a major shareholder, but also the mining regulator.

So the battle for Panguna is getting more complicated, right as the region prepares for a contentious referendum on its political future.

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No Road to Damascus Conversion for President Momis

President Momis is still pressing ahead with Panguna reopening despite turning his back on BCL

As predicted, the Momis government has not had a Road to Damascus conversion, where they promise to honour the wishes and customs of landowning communities. All banks should be scrutinising very closely the accounts of senior ABG officials, and their relatives, for large unexplained deposits which may help explain BCL’s abrupt eviction – it might also be the quickest route to finding out who the ‘new’ proposed operator is for Panguna, who has the consent of ‘all’ the landowning community. Of course, whoever it is, they will be a low flying organisation, with offshore bank accounts and companies. 

So here is how its going to work. BCL is now kicked out. The politicians have shown they listen to the voice of the people (yeah right). A new operator will be announced. There will be a ‘groundswell’ of local support for this operators (lies, of course). The usual local faces will be put forwards as the voice of the people – Mirorio, Daveona, etc. They aren’t. No other voices will be allowed to be heard. There will need to be a big financial backer. Because of the conflict, and the fact the ABG has suddenly cut and run from BCL, after promising them the world since 2010, it will only come from high-risk investors. Probably China. Whatever agreement is reached, percentages will be paid to politicians, and subcontracts promised to their family and friends. If the Chinese are the funders, expect a large influx of Chinese labour, and tax breaks galore.

But there will be resistance. Big time. The struggle continues.

Meet To Re-Open Panguna Mine Successfully

Sebastian Hakalits | Post Courier | January 28, 2018

A recent meeting between the chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA) Philip Miriori and the President of ABG Dr John Momis in Buka in January was described as a success.
It was jointly agreed that the technical team of the SMLOLA would re-engage with the ABG Mining Department to develop a plan.
Mr Miriori said following the recent rejection of Bougainville Copper Limited’s plans to redevelop Panguna by the Bougainville Executive Council, and president Momis’s press release of December 22, 2017 that he wants to work more closely with the landowners to find an acceptable redevelopment proposal for Panguna that will be widely supported by Bougainvilleans and unite the landowners. “We were very appreciative of President Momis’s offer to meet to start this process,” Miriori said.
Mining Minister and vice president of Bougainville, Raymond Masono was also present at the meeting along with Finance Minister Robin Wilson and ABG Police Minister William Masiu.
Mr Miriori said they had a successful meeting with President Momis and ‘‘the other ministers and I confirm it is my intention as the chairman of the SMLOLA to engage meaningfully with the ABG and National Government in finding a way forward for the future prosperity of all Bougainvilleans.’’
‘‘Mr Momis was very respectful of my position and was appreciative of the reconciliation we have been able to achieve on the leadership issues.
He said we all understand that the redevelopment of Panguna, if done with the support of the community, could enable Bougainville to thrive and enhance the Independence Referendum plans, which the ABG committed to in the recent joint supervisory body meeting in Port Moresby.
Mr Miriori said this week he and his brother Lawrence Daveona, the former Chairman will commence their awareness campaign throughout the Panguna area to update their members on their meeting with President and will report back to Momis before the end of the month with their findings.
He said meanwhile, their technical team will be meeting with the ABG Department of Minerals and Energy this week.
“We believe this could be the turning point for our Bougainville and look forward to working with the ABG as one team to progress the redevelopment plans at Panguna,” said Miriori.

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ABG concerned reopening Panguna ‘might ignite another war’

President of the autonomous Bougainville government, John Momis. Photo: RNZI

Mining Panguna requires ‘social license’

Radio New Zealand | January 5, 2018

The president of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) says mining companies must win the trust of landowners if they want to operate the Panguna mine.

Last month, President John Momis placed an indefinite moratorium on mining at Panguna after landowners opposed the return of miner Bougainville Copper Limited, or 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 to avoid further conflict, Panguna could only be opened with the landowners’ consent.

“Because of our concern that it might ignite another war, we decided, on the recommendation of the Bougainville Mining Council, to impose an indefinite moratorium on mining on Panguna,” he said.

“The mine can recommence, but we have to ensure that whichever company gets the license must be acceptable to the people. In other words it must win the social license.”

The vast Panguna copper and gold mine once generated nearly half of Papua New Guinea’s annual export revenue.

In 2016, mining giant Rio Tinto transferred its controlling stake in BCL to both the PNG government and the ABG, winning support from Mr Momis for BCL to return to Panguna.

But opposition to BCL from the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association was reiterated this week by its chair Philip Miriori, who said it was time for Bougainville to attract a mining partner that would respect the people and make sure they all benefit.

Australian mining company RTG claimed to have the landowners’ backing last month when its chairman Michael Carrick told RNZ Pacific his company was a better option than BCL.

Mr Momis said it was not clear if an Australian company could provide landowners the same benefits as one partly owned by the ABG.

“That may be so but that is not the view of the people of Bougainville. We have a referendum coming up which is important for the ultimate determination of our future and we can’t allow BCL’s involvement in Panguna that may lead to bloodshed,” he said.

“We can’t open the mine in the face of such huge opposition from the people. According to our law, the landowners own the resource, not the government. Until companies win the social license from the landowners they are barking up the wrong tree.”

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