The abandoned Panguna mine
Chris Baria | February 10, 2019
Today the people of Arawa, landowners, women, ex-combatant core group, and“no mining” Bougainville hardliners milled into the Sharps Memorial Youth Centre, Arawa, to be“educated” by the Bougainville Executive Council (BEC) on the finer points of mining and controversial amendments to the once controversial Bougainville Mining Act 2015 (BMA) that is yet to be industry tested.
One wonders why such an entourage as BEC has found it necessary to carry out “consultations” on such unpopular bills which have drawn stiff opposition throughout wider sections of the community.
Today, the Finance Minister Robin Wilson and the Vice President and Mining Minister, Raymond Masono spoke out against what they called misinformation and misconceptions in social media that were causing so much confusion about the new mining bills, and the bill to effect amendments to the existing BMA 2015. They said that the amendment to the BMA 2015 were necessary to give more benefits to the resource owners than what the current mining act can provide them.
Their attempt to illustrate the benefits of tampering with the BMA, via PowerPoint presentation, did very little to allay our fears as we were already aware of the sections in the BMA 2015 that were subject to draft amendment by lawyers acting on behalf of Jeffery McGlinn and Caballus Mining. Not only is our law subject to tampering by foreign elements but our ‘mama’ law, the constitution, is affected.
We the people who are preparing to vote on a referendum express our desire to be an independent nation feel violated.
Recently, ABG linked up with a little known mining company that was only registered not long ago in the British Virgin Islands. It appears that“Caballus” mining is owned by Jeffery McGlinn from Perth in Western Australia.
This man McGlinn, whom we know very little about apart contradictory tales of his recently registered company’s experience in working with indigenous people and traditional leaders, has sold a scam to ABG and ABG has swallowed it hook line and sinker. In a very simplistic proposal that omitted the complexities of a mining venture and the “dog-eat-dog” world of business enterprise, Jeffery McGlinn has shaken the house and dazzled it’s gullible occupants. His top card is a fantastic shareholding cut between him and his creation, BAM [Bougainville Advance Mining] that puts Noah Musingku and U-Vistract to shame. “BAM” in Tokpisin means head on collision. As a matter of fact it may well be on collision course with our sanity.
Back at the Youth Centre I was yearning for some excitement to lightened up the dull boring discussions when Hon. Robin Wilson’s man stoked up the projector to show us the workings of BAM.
He continued to tell us how the landowner would get more than what the currently Bougainville Mining Act 2015 provided for and how wonderful it is for Bougainville to have it’s own mining company. He spilled the the secrets of how BAM was going to create an economic miracle for Bougainville and give it a mining company and not rely on foreign companies and white people to come take what rightfully belongs to us.
The decision to butcher the Bougainville Mining Act was conceived by Jeffery McGlinn for the Dodos in ABG and it’s Administration under the pretext of “better benefits” for landowners. The Mining Act is not about better benefits. It should be about the protection of the human rights of the indigenous people of Bougainville which are not interchangeable with monetary benefits.
My question is how much of what was presented in PowerPoint can we say is from within us and our vision? On the one Hon. Wilson tells us not to woo white folk and then on the other hand he presents an idea, not of his own creation but what a smooth talking white dude gave him and the words he breath into good member’s mouth. The idea of Bougainville’s own Mining company and it’s ability to serve the government and it’s people seem quite attractive but what is the price tag on it?
How naïve can our leaders to keep collecting prefabricated nonsense? Despite many of them being educated they still cannot differentiate between what is real and what is fantasy, simply because they don’t bother to check on who they are dealing with in the first place.
This brings up another issue, the capacity of the Autonomous Bougainville Government or any other Bougainville government established to replace it after referendum, and the capability of it’s administration to manage and regulate the impact of a large scale mining operation in the region. Since its inception the Autonomous Bougainville Government has establish a string of businesses and partnerships with the Chinese that leaves us wondering as to how these companies are faring as ABG’s money spinners.
The biggest horror story in this issue is the taking away of landowners rights and privileges and put them under a trust company that is to be controlled by ABG under a section of the BMA. The ABG has not right whatsoever to tamper with landowners’ inalienable rights. When governments become corrupt and tyrannical the “trust” between landowners and government embodied in the trust company is endangered. We see this kind of arrangement which is similar to PNG Sustainable Fund in which landowner monies are either locked in or stolen by politicians already but whatever the reason landowners have no access to their funds.