Post Courier | February 25, 2019
The customary landowners from all mine affected areas in and around Panguna – not just the pit area – are 100% united in opposing the controversial draft Bills to change the Bougainville Mining Act (BMA).
The draft Bills would see their rights been stripped, leaving them to try and negotiate with their own Government many years down the track, after they have given up all their rights and ownership of minerals.
Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association Inc chairman Philip Miriori said: “All we are vaguely promised is some form of compensation once mining activity commences.
“Who would do that, give up everything with no deal to look after our people.
“Can you imagine, at that point it will be like us negotiating with Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) again. They will have all the power and we will have none.” He added that this is why they are all united against these changes to the BMA and the architect of this fraudulent attempt to steal from us.
A formal Petition has been signed by all nine landowner associations representing all the land that was impacted in the original Rio Tinto – BCL – Panguna Mine, which operated from 1972-1989.
The mine halted production when Rio Tinto and its subsidiary BCL lost the support of the Panguna landowners and the community.
“We all know what that led to. The Autonomous Bougainville Government is contemplating transferring the control of the Panguna Mine to an unknown Australian entrepreneur who claims he will raise $6 billion for Panguna, when he has never built or run a mine ever before,” Mr Miriori said.
The petition draws the attention of the ABG to no fewer than nine what landowners alleged to be materially false claims of the proposal.
Mr Miriori said the most fatal being the claim of a “permanent 60%” interest for the ABG. “It is ludicrous and simply impossible…he wants us to believe investors will put in 100% of the capital.
They say US$6 billion for 40% of the profits, this is impossible, he added.
SMLOLA special adviser Lawrence Daveona said Rio Tinto had to walk away from Panguna because they lost the support of the community.
“This petition confirms every single member of the Panguna Landowner Association opposes the proposal,” Mr Daveona said.
The signed resolution calls for the immediate withdrawal of the Bill to change the BMA and to try and stop further damage being done to their reputation internationally, Mr Daveona added.