Tag Archives: RTG Mining

Why redevelop Panguna’s mine now? It can be banked

Paul Flanagan | PNG Attitude | 12 January 2018

Are we sure, as Axel Sturm asserts in PNG Attitude, that “one thing is for sure: Without revenues from the Panguna mine under the leadership of BCL that is owned by the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the independence of  the island will remain a sweet dream.”

Separate to the BCL versus RTG issue there is a more fundamental assumption. Why is a mine essential for independence?

Bougainville’s agricultural prospects are reasonably strong. It has some of the best agriculture land in Papua New Guinea.

Its cocoa and copra plantations were extremely productive prior to ‘the troubles’. Tourist potential would appear significant if law and order issues are contained. Its waters would link into fishing revenues under the Nauru Agreement.

Bougainville’s estimated population of around 300,000 is larger than many other Pacific island nations – about half Solomon Islands, slightly larger than Vanuatu, New Caledonia and French Polynesia, and significantly larger than Samoa.

These countries get by with a form of independence without a mine.

Experience also is that mining can lead to ‘resource curse’ issues that may manifest greatly in Bougainville as Panguna could represent a major share of measured GDP.

I’m not saying there shouldn’t be a mine, just asking why it is “essential”?

This is an assumption that needs to be examined closely. Using the figures quoted by Mr Sturm, even if 320 of 367 customary heads are in favour of a particular course of development, that still leaves 47 with issues. And the issues may not come only from the customary heads.

The Panguna mine riches are not going to disappear. Is it better that they are left in the ground for another generation until there is an absolutely unambiguous consensus that they should be developed?

This would simply be banking the resource at this stage.

And it may allow the people of Bougainville to consider more inclusive forms of development and governance as it considers the June 2019 referendum on its political future.

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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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Bougainville landowners say no return for miner BCL

Bougainville’s Panguna Copper mine

Radio New Zealand | 4 January 2018

The Bougainville landowners association that controls the former copper mine at Panguna says it is pleased the mining company Bougainville Copper Limited, or BCL, will never be welcomed back.

The company operated the mine until the outbreak of civil war in 1989.

BCL, which is part owned by the Autonomous Bougainville Government, had been vying with the Australian company RTG to reopen the mine until last month when the government placed an indefinite moratorium on mining at Panguna.

In a statement, the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association said BCL failed to win community support as it would not take responsibility for the environmental and social impacts of its previous operation, or offer any compensation.

The association’s chair Philp Miriori said it was time for Bougainville to attract a mining partner that would respect the people and make sure they all benefit.

He said there was broad support within the Panguna community to re-establish the mine as it was understood that Bougainville urgently required economic development and could not rely on the Papua New Guinea government for handouts.

“President (John) Momis has said he will now meet with the Panguna Landowners and develop an alternative plan for Panguna and we welcome the opportunity to work with the ABG,” said Mr Miriori.

“We have invested a great deal of time in this agenda over the last couple of years and believe now the road is clear to deliver a solution where all can win and we do not need to look backwards but can focus on the future.”

Last month, RTG claimed to have the association’s backing.

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Momis announces moratorium on Panguna mining and exploration

Panguna copper mine on Bougainville … the catalyst for decade-long civil war. Image: Aloysius Laukai/Bougainville Forum

Aloysius Laukai | Asia Pacific Report | 23 December 2017

The President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Chief Dr John Momis, has announced an indefinite moratorium on exploration and mining in Panguna.

He said the Bougainville Executive Council had its meeting on Wednesday made a “thoughtful and considered” decision to impose an indefinite reservation moratorium from any exploration or mining over Panguna in the best interest of the landowners and the people of Bougainville.

The council debating the issue following advice from the Bougainville Mining Advisory Council.

“It is with much regret that the basic requirement for obtaining the landowners consent under the Bougainville Mining Act 2015 could not be met,” Momis said.

The voice of the Panguna landowners was clearly heard during the mining warden hearing that decided in a narrow split between those supporting the mine reopening by Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) and the opponents.

Dr Momis also said that to develop the mine by any other developer would be “untenable” under current circumstances.

“We will not allow this project once again to reignite the wounds of the Bougainville crisis and distract our focus for restoring peace and our preparation for our referendum in 2019,” he said.

Continued consultations

While imposing this Panguna moratorium, Dr Momis said his government would continue to consult with Panguna landowners and the people of Bougainville over an “appropriate arrangement” or best alternative models of development of the mine if the people still had an appetite to develop the mine in the future.

The Bougainville Civil War was fought in 1988-1998 between Papua New Guinean military forces and secessionist guerrillas of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA).

The conflict led to an estimated 15,000-20,000 deaths on Bougainville before a peace agreement was brokered by New Zealand in 1998. This led to the establishment of the Bougainville Autonomous Region Government.

Bougainvilleans are due to vote in a referendum on possible independence in June 2019.

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Has Momis admitted defeat over plan to bring back BCL?

The Panguna mine was a catalyst for the civil war on Bougainville in the 1990s. It has sat abandoned since 1989. Photo: supplied

Conscious of old wounds, Bougainville halts mine development

Radio New Zealand | 23 December 2017

Bougainville is to put on hold any new development at the controversial Panguna copper mine.

The mine was the catalyst for the civil war in the Papua New Guinea region and has been shut down for nearly 28 years.

The autonomous Bougainville government has been keen to re-open it in order to boost the region’s economy as it prepares for an independence referendum in 2019.

But local journalist Aloysius Laukai has reported President John Momis saying his government has imposed an indefinite moratorium on exploration and mining at Panguna.

Mr Momis said this was in the best interests of the landowners and people of Bougainville and was made on the advice of the Bougainville Mining Advisory Council.

He said his government ”will not allow this project once again to reignite the wounds of the Bougainville crisis and distract our focus for restoring peace and our preparation for our referendum in 2019”.

It comes amid a battle by the former operator Bougainville Copper Ltd, or BCL, and Australian company, RTG, to win the right to proceed.

Mr Momis said BCL, in which his government has a major interest, cannot secure the consent of the landowners while it is untenable for any other developer under the “current circumstances.”

RTG had claimed to have the backing of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiang Landownwers Association, which controls the land at the site of the mine, but the ABG has been strongly critical of the company’s involvement.

Meanwhile Mr Momis said his government would ”continue to consult with Panguna landowners and the people of Bougainville over an appropriate arrangement or best alternative models of development of the mine if the people still had an appetite” to develop Panguna in the future.

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Court Orders Panguna Mine Mediation To Continue

Post Courier | December 19, 2017

Mediation over the leadership of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA) in Panguna, Bougainville is continuing following directions from National Court Judge Andrew Kandakasi.
The matter returned to court on December 8, and adjourned to Tuesday this week where Justice Kandakasi ordered the mediation process continue.
His orders are in relation to the current leadership tussle between Philip Miriori and Lawrence Daveona claiming chairmanship of SMLOLA.
Legal action was then sought to determine whether or not the reconciliation between Mr Miriori and Mr Daveona had been resolved to the satisfaction of the broader SMLOLA membership.
According to Bougainville Copper Limited’s company secretary Mark Hitchcock following three earlier mediation sessions, a fourth has now been scheduled for January 29, 2018 before the matter returns to court on February 6, 2018.
Mr Hitchcock said it was misleading for rival exploration companies to claim the matter had been resolved when the process was still in progress.

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BCL slaps down claims as RTG tries to edge its way into Panguna

The Panguna copper & gold mine

Keith Jackson | PNG Attitude | 14 December 2017

Bougainville Copper Ltd has lashed out at what it calls an “unscrupulous campaign” by rival RTG Mining which it says undermines its position as the Bougainville government’s preferred company to re-open the Panguna copper and gold resource.

In a statement, BCL said RTG, which it characterised as “a junior speculative company”, had sought to create the false impression that BCL had no support among key landowners and that it had claimed a dispute between two leading landowners had been resolved in a way that would undermine BCL interests.

In fact, the National Court under Justice Kandakaski has endorsed a continuing mediation process and ordered that the matter return to the court on 6 February to determine whether reconciliation has resolved the dispute to the satisfaction of the broader group of Panguna landowners.

“These developments are not only deeply embarrassing for RTG but expose the highly misleading nature of its ongoing campaign of destabilisation against BCL,” the company’s statement said.

BCL said it believes “it retains strong support among the 367 customary heads who are authorised to act on behalf of the customary owners.”

BCL also said RTG had wrongly claimed that BCL had “not been to Panguna in over 28 years (given landowners had refused to even allow them access).”

“Again, an egregious attempt to undermine BCL’s standing both locally and internationally,” the statement said.

“The truth is BCL has a full-time team in Bougainville with 11 staff working constantly on the tenement, this includes a Panguna-based senior project officer.

“BCL re-commenced its formal engagement in Bougainville back in 2012 after the Autonomous Bougainville Government and landowner associations invited a new process and in 2014 made its first visits to Central Bougainville.

“Since that time BCL has actively engaged with communities in the Panguna and broader historical BCL mine lease areas and has also undertaken six customary processes and has been well-received overall.”

The BCL statement said it should be noted that “despite RTG’s attempts to undermine BCL’s position, RTG has no apparent support from the Autonomous Bougainville Government or apparent necessary support among the customary heads authorised to act on behalf of the landowners.”

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