Tag Archives: Philip Miriori

Association in standoff with BCL

The National aka The Loggers Times | 14 July, 2017

THE Special Mine Lease Osikaiyang Landowners’ Association of the Panguna mine in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville continues to refuse to engage with the Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL).

Association chairman Philip Miriori said they disagreed with the public statements made by the company recently.

“Interestingly, they also suggested they have every confidence that the outstanding issues can be resolved, and yet, they have never met with the owners of the minerals, the Special Mine Lease Osikaiyang Landowners’ Association, to negotiate and engage in a discussion with regard to their desire to benefit from, and more particularly, develop our minerals,” Miriori said.

“Further, BCL in its public statements places significant reliance on the reference to the other landowner groups. This is misleading because we are the only landowner association that owns the minerals.

“Accordingly, we are the only landowner association that can consent to access for the grant of an exploration licence. Without our consent, nothing will happen.

“We firmly believe all Bougainvilleans must benefit from the Panguna mine this time around. But at this stage, given we own the minerals, our consent is the only critical hurdle. And to date, they continue to ignore our wishes and treat us disrespectfully.”

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Bougainville SML proposes mediated talks on Panguna

Radio New Zealand | 5 July 2017

A Bougainville landowner group wants to reach a compromise with the autonomous government over re-opening the Panguna mine.

The government in the Papua New Guinea region wants to bring back Bougainville Copper Ltd to run the mine, but the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association, which owns the site, has teamed up with another miner, RTG.

SEE ALSO: Renzie Duncan and Philip Miriori team up in another illegal Bougainville venture

The mine re-opening is viewed as critical to Bougainville achieving some fiscal self reliance ahead of a vote on independence in June 2019 [COMMENT : this is nonsense – it would be at least a decade before any money would flow to the government, even if the billions needed could be found to rebuild the mine]

An abandoned building at Panguna mine site in Bougainville Photo: supplied

The chair of the SMLOLA, Philip Miriori, said they were proposing talks with the ABG to sort the matter out.

He said they would like to bring in a mediator.

“We have this timeframe, a very important timeframe for a referendum, 2019 – we need mediation because he will make sure we find a fair solution for SML [Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association], for ABG and for the rest of Bougainville. So you know there will be a win – win situation,” said Phillip Miriori.

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Bougainville govt’s forthright support for BCL at Panguna

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

Dateline Pacific | Radio New Zealand | 30 June, 2017

The Bougainville Government says it won’t give way to a landowner group that says it will not allow Bougainville Copper Ltd, or BCL, to return to the troubled Panguna mine.

The autonomous government wants the mine re-opened to boost the economy ahead of the vote on independence from Papua New Guinea set for 2019.

But the chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association, Philip Miriori, is adamant they will not allow BCL to return, though they are keen to see the mine opened, using an Australian company they have aligned with, called RTG.

However Bougainville President John Momis says the government is not about to let a company with no track record mine at Panguna.  

JOHN MOMIS: RTG doesn’t have any money. The RTG representative in fact, a fellow by the name of Renzie Duncan has Philip Miriori and a few of his cobbers on his payroll and their intention is to get the support of the landowners and the ABG and as a speculator go and find a developer. RTG itself as a company does not have the money.

DON WISEMAN: BCL doesn’t have any money either does it?

JM: BCL doesn’t have any money but BCL has the data. BCL has the first right of refusal. If we didn’t give it to them and set a time frame within which to source funding then BCL might take us to court and thus delay the opening of the Panguna Mine. If they fail to secure the necessary funds then we have the liberty to invite anyone else. But we can’t just give it to somebody, a company that has no standing, no track record, such as RTG. 

DW: Well I don’t think that is true. RTG has run mines. The thing with BCL and whether they are going to take Bougainville to court, well, that is not going to happen, is it, since Bougainville is effectively controlling BCL now?

JM: Well we may now control BCL but the original agreement, concocted in Australia by the colonial government and Rio Tinto.

DW: But they are not in the picture any more are they?

JM: They are not in the picture but the agreement itself is still valid.

DW: Is not the critical thing and you have told me this on a number of occasions. The critical thing is that you get the mine operating as soon as possible – the quickest way of doing that would be to accede to the demands of the landowner group that lives or owns the land right at the Panguna mine site?

JM: Philip Miriori’s SML landowners is just one out of nine landowner groups. Eight out of nine support ABG and BCL to open the mine, because ABG has shares in the mine. Although the amount of money is not much but ABG as we have been telling people Rio Tinto is no longer the devil we knew. Now the devil we own as such will be operating under our law. Eight out of the nine landowners support ABG.

DW: Yet you has an attempt to sign this memorandum of agreement the Friday before last and it was unsuccessful. Raymond Masono [Vice President of Bougainville] said last week he was going to give those people two weeks to sort themselves out – his words – but they seem very adamant so do you think you can bridge the gap here?

JM: Well the ABG has told the landowners the onus is on you to sort yourselves out to reach an agreement and we are giving them two weeks. And we know for a fact that most of the landowners are in support – it is just Philip Miriori and his group who are on the payroll of Renzie Duncan. This could be interpreted as bribery as you know.

DW: Well they might say the same in a way. The thing is I guess, they end up being the pivotal landowner group, or that seems to be the way they see it.

JM: If the eight go against the SML landowners [Miriori’s group] nothing will happen. If nothing happens then the whole of Bougainville will not benefit but the worst losers will be the landowners themselves. The ABG as the government has the perspective of making sure that we get the best interests of all the people, all the landowners, as well as all Bougainville. Whereas the SML people are just looking at their own selfish, legal interest and they are causing trouble. But we are not going to allow this to keep happening this way because it is time people put aside their selfish interests and worked for the common good of the people of Bougainville, which the government represents.

DW: Well their comeback to that is going to be that as landowners they control, as per the Mining Law, they control what is beneath the surface.

JM: That’s right but the ABG is also a major stake holder and without ABG’s approval nothing happens.

DW: The ABG has talked about mining in other areas. Have you gone any further with that?

JM: I am not sure what the Department of Mining is doing, but as you know they applied for exploration licences and they given and now I guess it is up to the companies which applied to find the funds which are necessary to carry out the exploration.

DW: Do you know whether there is outside interest in doing that?

JM: Toremana – a Western Australian company is interested there with the landowners in the Tinputz area, not far from Buka. But the other one is Isina, that is Sam Kauona and his people and they have been granted the exploration licence and I presume they’re working to either find partners or find the money themselves to do the exploration.

DW: So in terms of resolving these issues and getting a viable economy, or getting things starting to happen over the next couple of years, how confident are you at this point?

JM: Well I think everybody knows that fiscal self-reliance is one of the most important benchmarks that will be taken into account after the outcome of the referendum – by the national government, by the UN and the international community and I think people know that, so they are working hard now to ensure that we reach a consensus to open the mine. Apart from other, agricultural and fisheries businesses, believe that the Panguna mine is probably the best, quickest way of generating revenue because a dollar invested in mining produces three dollars in other associated industries – that’s agriculture or other businesses.      

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Renzie Duncan and Philip Miriori team up in another illegal Bougainville venture

PNGExposed | June 28, 2017

Sydney lawyer and mining venture capitalist, Renzie Duncan, is on the prowl again for Bougainville’s mineral wealth, with his old friend Philip Miriori,  the scandal-plagued, self-appointed head of the Me’ekamui Tribal Government. 

This time its through Central Me’ekamui Exploration Limited, which is in partnership with Australian mining firm RTG Mining.

Company extracts indicate that Central Me’ekamui Exploration Limited, despite its very local name, is in fact a foreign enterprise.

This assertion is based on the fact it is 50% owned by Australian company, Central Exploration Pty Ltd. 

Central Exploration Pty Ltd’s thriving head office is 266 Burns Bay Road, Lane Cove, New South Wales, Australia. This leafy address on Sydney’s north shore, is also the registered home address for Renzie Duncan.

Under the Investment Promotion Act 1992, a company which is 50% owned by a foreign entity is deemed a foreign enterprise and must apply for certification to conduct business in Papua New Guinea.

Section 41 of the Investment Promotion Act 1992 states it is an offence to carry on business without certification, punishable by a K100,000 fine. 

There is no record with the Investment Promotion Authority that Central Me’ekamui Exploration Limited has applied for certification, despite the fact it has been clearly conducting business with RTG Mining.

However, this is not the first time Duncan, Miriori and the other Central Exploration Director, Michael Etheridge, have conducted business in Bougainville. 

The last time it was through Transpacific Ventures Limited.

In that case Transpacific Ventures informed investors:

‘In the past 12 months, TPV has negotiated and signed an Agreement (the “Cairns Agreement”) with the Sovereign Me’ekamui Tribal Government on an exclusive basis for 20 years, renewable, to advise customary landowners (the Me’ekamui) in developing their natural resources sector, including potential oil and gas, on the island of Bougainville, PNG and surrounding atolls and marine territories, and to participate with the Me’ekamui in such development and other business opportunities’.

Yes, that’s right, Philip Mioriri and his self-styled tribal government proposed to sign away the natural resources, landed and marine, across Bougainville. Clearly, he had no right to, and Transpacific Ventures had no legal business publishing this information to investors.

Of course the claim by President Momis that RTG mining ‘doesn’t have any money’, is rather ironic given that his preferred operator, BCL, cant even afford permanent staff – and has no means whatsoever to raise the sort of capital to develop Panguna.

But the core point all this squabbling between various minority interests distracts from is this – 98% of the people in and around Panguna oppose mining, under any industrial guise. They have suffered the environment and human loss.

The ordinary people – real landowners – don’t have government support, nor do they have access to the internet or media. Their voice is unheard, except when they protest and resist.

The re-entry of Duncan and Mirori, will be cynically used by the government to label all landowner resistance, simply a plot to bring in an alternative developer by the backdoor. If this is argued, it is a lie.

Landowners throughout the mine area remain opposed, like they have since 1963, when the first rumblings of Panguna began. Journalists will not report this. They don’t leave their offices, much less speak with someone who cant reply in english.

On the rare occasions they do leave their office, they knock on the door of Lawrence Daveona, Philip Mioriori and other individuals, who falsely claiming they somehow speak for all landowners, which they don’t. Of course the colonial powers did this back in the 1960s. Some poor old man, was wielded out to say yes, while the mothers cried no.

History has been a cruel teacher, it is unlikely the mothers of the land will allow the bulldozers through this time.

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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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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 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.

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