Tag Archives: Philip Miriori

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.         

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Financial returns, Human rights, Mine construction, Papua New Guinea

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Bougainville landowners detail opposition to BCL

Radio New Zealand | 1 May 2017

A group of Bougainville land owners have presented a petition to the president of the autonomous Papua New Guinea region detailing their opposition to Bougainville Copper Ltd’s application for a mining exploration licence.

The Osikiang Landowner Association, which owns the land at the site of the long shut mine, says it wants to make its opposition clear.

It said this was in response to statements from the government suggesting BCL had unanimous backing to return.

The Bougainville Government is now the largest shareholder in BCL after the multi-national Rio Tinto walked away from its involvement and gave away its shareholding to the PNG and Bougainville governments.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has said the PNG shares from Rio would go to Bougainville landowners.

But the chairman of Osikiang Philip Miriori said they would never accept BCL resuming mining at Panguna because of the damage the company had caused.

The group was not opposed to mining though and has established links with Australian-based mining conglomerate, RTG Mining, to form Central Me’ekamui Exploration Ltd.

Together they developed a proposal for what they say would be a 50 percent Bougainville-owned venture, emphasizing rehabilitation from the outset and aiming to be in full production by 2026.

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Panguna petition proves BCL not welcome and the BCL claim of ‘unanimous Landowner consent’ is false

One PNG | 28 April 2017

Panguna landowners today presented a petition to the Bougainville Government office of President John Momis, rejecting BCL’s application for an exploration licence.

The petition is a direct response to reports that President Momis is considering supporting the BCL application because he understood it was supported by local landholders.

Philip Miriori and a number of other representatives of SMLOLA met with President Momis in March this year following the misleading statements made suggesting BCL had unanimous consent.

Although it was acknowledged at that meeting that President Momis had been misinformed, unfortunately there has been continued support for BCL and the landowners felt it important to demonstrate the overwhelming and heart felt view of the owners of the minerals – BCL will never be accepted on their lands.

The Chairman of the SMLOLA, Philip Miriori, said the petition proved President Momis had been misled about the supposed local support for the BCL application.

“We are the landholders who own the land and the minerals beneath the ground at the Panguna minesite,” Chairman Miriori said.

“We will never accept BCL, as these signatures show,” he said.

“We will be explaining the alternative proposal we have developed and presented to the ABG – a proposal that will get the mine back up and running professionally, and far earlier than BCL plans, which represents real benefits for Bougainville and its independent future economic prosperity.”

The petition presented today includes over 500 signatures – an over whelming majority of the landholders within the Panguna minesite boundary.

SMLOLA Chairman Miriori said the petition called on the ABG to reject the BCL renewal application.

“President Momis should do what he said he would do and listen to and respect the views of  local people, the people the law has now given ownership of the minerals to,” he said.

“He should be looking at the alternative we have developed, instead of listening to more empty promises from BCL.”

SMLOLA Chairman Miriori said all of the petition signatories were landholders within the Panguna mining licence area. Many would be attending the community briefing about the SMLOLA alternative proposal in Arawa soon.

“For the first step, the grant of an exploration licence, those within that boundary are the only landholders who are relevant and affected by activities. Landholders in surrounding areas will also have a say when the mine takes the next step from exploration to a mining licence if the reopening of the mine  needs to expand into those surrounding lands.

“BCL’s exploration licence renewal application should be rejected for many reasons but as many feel, the company has failed to address the environmental damage caused when the mine was operating up to 1989.  All that was left for us was that environmental damage, division in the community and the loss of our land and many lives.  

“We believe BCL left terrible damage which it has never tried to repair, it then had 2 years to try and progress the mine, it did nothing and ignored us.  Now it expects the Government to give it another licence to return to Panguna. President Momis says BCL do not have a development partner and first need to find a development partner to be able to progress but can’t tell us who that is – more empty promises about what it might do in the future.  How can we believe them after so many years of nothing. This is not acceptable to us.  We will never allow it to happen,” Chairman Miriori said.

“There is a better way forward.  We have a proposal which can deliver a real prospect for Panguna and future prosperity for Bougainville .

“Instead of trusting BCL’s false claim that it has unanimous landowner consent, the Government should be giving respect to the true local landholders and working with us,” he stressed.

Leave a comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Panguna landowners say ‘no’ to BCL’s proposed return to mining on Bougainville

Bougainville Revolutionary Army fighters look down on the Panguna mine in 1996

One PNG | 24 April 2017

Panguna landowners have reacted angrily to a report that the PNG Government supports formerly Rio Tinto-linked company BCL in its bid to convince authorities it should be given exploration rights at the controversial Panguna minesite – the scene of major civil unrest in Bougainville in the 1990s.

The President of the Special Mining Lease Landowners Association, Philip Miriori, said his group was 100% opposed and that many other Bougainvillians shared this view.

Claims of unanimous landowner support for BCL were wrong and insulting, Mr Miriori said, adding it was time PNG Prime Minister O’Neill and Bougainville President Momis heard some true facts.  

He also went on to say:

“In fact, during the first phase the issue of an exploration licence, we are the only Landowner Association that has a say as it will be our minerals and land that will be disturbed and subject to exploration. It is only later, when the mine is redeveloped that the other Landowners will need to consider their position.”

“Our group owns the land and the mineral rights for the minesite.  Nothing can occur on the site without our permission,” Mr Miriori said.

“We are being deliberately passed over despite Bougainville Government assurances that no action would be taken on the minesite without proper respect to people’s views.

“Many Bougainvillians were angered at the statements about PNG Government support for BCL. I expect we will hear much more this week,” he said.

Mr Miriori was referring to a planned gathering of ex-combatants from the Bougainville conflict, which erupted on the back of BCL and Rio Tinto’s operation of the old Panguna, leaving only environmental carnage and deep-seated disputes over improper payments and lack of accountability with the death of many of our friends and family.

“All this will do is further motivate our people to stand up against BCL, stronger and more vocally,” Mr Miriori said.

“Most people in Bougainville know of Francis Ona’s words: ‘BCL should never be allowed to return to Bougainville’.”

The SML group made their position very clear to Bougainville’s President Momis at a meeting in late February and another earlier in December last year.

“We said we will never accept BCL.  It is the same company that caused turmoil in Bougainville which lasted more than 10years. It is run by ex-Rio people. And it continues to break its promises, try to bully us and misrepresent us, as it tries to drive a wedge between our people and ignore our rights as the owners of the minerals.”

“It is time people woke up to this.  In 28 years, BCL has done nothing for Bougainville or PNG except make empty promises or ignore us. Why would we even consider giving BCL anything – they have given us nothing and they owe millions in unpaid rent and hundreds of millions in compensation for ruining the environment.

“There is a better way forward which will finally get rid of BCL and bring some real hope back for Panguna and future Bougainville independence and prosperity.”

2 Comments

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

MGU keen to sell more than Panguna

Bougainville Special Correspondent

Self-proclaimed Me’ekamui Tribal Government of Unity (MGU) and Transpacific Ventures (TPV) entered an agreement in 2013 selling not just Panguna, but the entire island’s mineral rights to the company. Transpacific Ventures, with its Executive Director Renzie Duncan, designed a confidential Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the tribal government which virtually holds no authority on Bougainville, let alone Panguna.

Phillip Miriori

Phillip Miriori

The deal was drafted in the hope of utilizing the now Bougainville Transitional Mining Act. Which despite stiff opposition, was passed in ABG’s House of Representatives on 26th of March 2015.

The MGU’s self-declared president Philip Miriori; who has ambitiously pawned the entire island’s mineral rights for economic investment to the illegal government, emits a long trail of smoke that is getting thicker as the PNG Prime Minister is becoming more involved.

Caption from a copy of the MOU signed in 2013

Caption from a copy of the MOU signed in 2013

Now it would be assumed that ABG is aware of this agreement whether by formal means or hearsay, nevertheless both governments have an on and off relationship. But if there can be any speculation to this, MGU might be ABG’s ticket to Panguna. And having the so called tribal government being ‘the voice’ of the people of Panguna, will be a pretext to initially kick starting reopening of Panguna.

MGU is one of the many spent shell casings from the once well organised guerilla government that chased out a giant mining corporation, and out-maneuvered an Australian supplied and trained military. Under Late Francis Ona, Me’ekamui was the deterrent from foreign and corporate vultures. This is not the case today.

President Philip Miriori, who has come out as a sleazy operator; has been in the business of forking out from ‘investors’ like as Tall J, United Resources Management, Bill Wang and TPV. His motives may be for personal gain or so to speak, because he has not been able to initiate anything apart from bringing in the district government into Panguna. Presumably his hidden work may be coming undone with the recent spate of activities by the PM O’Neill.

The MOU has virtually signed away Bougainville's mineral rights

The MOU has virtually signed away Bougainville’s mineral rights

The speculation is Philip Miriori is working closely with TPV as the mining company and the PNG government as a potential funder for the reopening. Hence, the PNG PM is looking at purchasing the 53.83% shares from Rio Tinto, not only that, but has appointed himself as the Minister for Bougainville Affairs.

If this is the case, it is logical to predict repercussion of instability on the island. There are well armed factions that still exist and very much tainted by the issue of mining.

The people of Panguna, since pre-crisis have been misrepresented by their own leaders, relenting too much against the people’s cries on the degradation and destruction of their environment. It is important to note that Bougainville is predominantly matrilineal, and landowner representation at that time were representative-wise contrary. It was not until late leaders, Francis Ona and Perpetua Serero took over the Panguna Landowners Association.

Lest should it be forgotten that men took to arms under Francis Ona as a measure of deterrence and defense. Perpetua Serero’s inspiration had as much influence as well. Women had had enough and demanded their men to take action. And customarily, men are responsible for defending the land of their mothers and daughters. This has been the practice of the people for thousands of years.

What happened afterwards is a history that exposed BCL’s arrogance and embarrassed a government.

Importantly, what can be defined from the region’s past to todays are the same issues of misrepresentation, greed and arrogance. These were key issues that led to the crisis. It is a no brainer to point out these issues with the current leadership.

8 Comments

Filed under Corruption, Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

The Momis Government, the O’Neill Government and their Man in Panguna

Bougainville Correspondent 

Tension is mounting on Bougainville. People know behind the scenes dishonest politicians are playing with the peoples resources. Recently it was announced that the PNG government is considering purchasing Rio Tinto’s stake in Bougainville Copper Limited. Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) President Momis  has spent the last six years boldly claiming a return to mining would be supremely profitable, so much so that the ABG’s revenues problems would be solved. Landowner opposition he claimed, was nothing more than a loud, ignorant minority.

It appears he may be too good a salesman. Now it is alleged, PNG wishes to buy Rio Tinto’s stake – why not given the optimistic predictions offered by the ABG and their foreign advisers.

Now on Hardtalk Bougainville, it is alleged another player is involved, Mr Philip Miriori.

Miriori is regarded in central Bougainville as an untrustworthy individual out to make a buck. Miriori has set up his own government, and has been making all sorts of deals with back door operators. The Miriori government calls itself the Sovereign Me’ekamui Tribal Government of Bougainville. Despite the grand title, it has no legitimacy in Panguna, and even less legitimacy elsewhere in the island. No one knows what Miriori is up to in his old office block in Panguna, many don’t want to know.

However, according to Hardtalk Miriori is now in bed with the Momis government and has been meeting regularly with the Prime Minister. It is also reported that Miriori and his government are now ‘acting on behalf of ABG to make decision as Landowners of Panguna’. 

Miriori has no right or power to be acting in such a way, this is widely known. If this report is accurate it would appear a desperate Momis government, who overstated support for its reopening plans, is now clutching to whichever individual can promise them Panguna.

This happened back in the colonial days, a big head local councillor claiming they spoke for the people, would consent to mining activities, and then the Rio Tinto people would be chased out by the real landowners.

One of Miriori’s back door partners, an Australian company, Transpacific Ventures, offers a rare look into the dubious schemes Mr Miriori is involved in. Transpacific Ventures are themselves fly by night mining speculators, who have used certain connections in the old Catholic boys club, to worm their way into Bougainville (not to be confused with POGE!).

The less holy 2013 investor memorandum states ‘the Me’ekamui are now attempting to form the first legitimate government on Bougainville in conjunction with the PNG National Government and the ABG … Following cooperation with the Me’ekamui, there is now a draft Mining Law Bill [the 2015 Bougainville Mining Act – M.W.] proposing a new mining regime for Bougainville that is anticipated to come before Parliament following a series of meetings between stakeholders in July/August 2013’.

Transpacific Ventures also claim, ‘On 31 August 2012 TPV signed the Cairns Agreement with the Sovereign Tribal Me’ekamui Government and the Me’ekamui Management and Oversight Committee (“the Committee”) for the right to manage, in partnership with the Me’ekamui, exploration and extraction of minerals and petroleum for 20 years, renewable, over the entire Bougainville Island and waters except for the 10,000 ha Panguna Moratorium Area, the site of the dormant Panguna mine and surrounding … Under the Cairns Agreement TPV has the first right of refusal in relation to the following minerals including, but not limited to, Oil and Gas, Gold, Silver, Copper, Lead, Zinc, Magnetite, Tellurium, Gemstones and Limestone’.

All of this would be funny, except for the fact Miriori’s government is in bed with the ABG and PNG governments. Greed for resources and money is alive and well. But this castle is made of sand, quicksand.

1 Comment

Filed under Environmental impact, Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea