Tag Archives: SMLOLA

Meetings to determine Panguna’s future

Cedric Patjole | PNG Loop | November 11, 2017

Two meetings have been identified as key events that may determine the timeline to rebuild the Panguna Mine in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

According to Business Advantage, Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) chairman, Rob Burns, says the meetings, to be held in November and December, include a mediation as well as a wardens’ hearing.

The first meeting on November 23 and 24 is the third round of mediation talks to settle a dispute over the chairmanship of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA).

SMLOLA is one of the nine landowner associations in the project area.

A dissident landowner, Philip Miriori, is at the centre of the dispute, along with his cousin Lawrence Daveona, who both lay claim to the chairmanship.

The second event on December 11 and 12 is the wardens’ hearings on the five-year renewal of the mining exploration lease, currently held by BCL.

Under the Bougainville Mining Act 2015, the Autonomous Bougainville Government needs to hold wardens’ hearings as part of the process for a five-year renewal of the lease, before recommendations then go to the Minister.

“I’m optimistic it will be renewed. The landowners have agreed because they want a better life and see this as the way forward,” says Burns.

The timeline for building the mine is estimated to cost K12 to K18 billion, and could take up to 10 years.

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The People of Bougainville have been Profoundly Misled – Official Records Show Rio Tinto Still Controls BCL

Press Release from Special Mine Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association Inc. (“SMLOLA”)
19 October 2017

  • According to IPA records; Rio Tinto still controls BCL.
  • ABG has no shares in BCL.
  • No Prior Written Consent by ABG.
  • BCL’s registered office is still Rio Tinto’s HQ in Melbourne.

The Chairman of the SMLOLA, Phillip Miriori said today that,

“Rio Tinto advised the Australian Stock Exchange on 30 June 2016, that it had transferred its 53.8% of BCL shares to a trust company for distribution to the governments of PNG and ABG, resulting in each holding 36.4% of BCL – yet they are still listed as the shareholders – what are the real facts here, is Rio actually gone or not? Once again, we are not being given all the facts yet we are being asked to consent tosupport the return of BCL. What does that actually mean, who will our partner actually be if the ABG gets their way?”

“The purported Rio Tinto transfer of 53.8% of BCL shares to the trust company did not have the legally required “prior written consent” from the ABG. In fact, as far as we have been told, the ABG was not informed in advance of the transfer. Certainly, the landowners that now own the minerals were never consulted. Most importantly, have they actually been transferred – is Rio gone or is there just a temporary step to cover up the involvement of Rio later?”

“All Bougainvilleans need to know the truth – is this just a sham? If, as the IPA records show, Rio Tinto still controls BCL with its 53.8% shareholding, we have been profoundly misled”.

“Again, we are being treated as pawns in this game: the old guard from Rio and BCL are still playing against us all and the people of Papua New Guinea. The colonialists’ time is over. They must compensate us for the wrongs of the past and leave gracefully.”

“On top of that, there is not one Bougainvillean on the Board of BCL – it is all PNG. How can this be? There are just too many unanswered questions as to who we are dealing with.”

“We were told that the Rio Chairman of BCL, Peter Taylor, would resign after “he provides services during this transition period”. Why is Taylor still listed as a consultant on BCL’s Presentation for the development of Panguna? Seems that the only answer is Rio Tinto is attempting to run the show while pretending to have left Bougainville and its responsibilities. Rest assured, I will do my best to hold them to account for the irreparable damage done by them and for which they now try to shirk all responsibility”.

“And to top it off, the Australian registered office of BCL remains Rio Tinto’s HQ in Melbourne”.

“I demand the truth finally – how can you try and force BCL on the landowners when there are so many serious questions on who BCL is, who the development partner would be? ”

“How could the ABG expect us to give the mine back to BCL. If the shares in BCL do at some point get transferred to the ABG, PNG or the landowners, how do we then sue them as we will be suing ourselves. If we let this farce continue, we will clearly be giving up our rights to compensation for the past atrocities. I will do my best to never let this happen.”

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Phillip Miriori: Why Bougainvilleans are having their say – ‘No to BCL’

Bougainvilleans proudly display “No BCL Ever” T-shirts. Image: Me’ekamui

Phillip Miriori | Asia Pacific Report | 13 October 2017

As many would be aware, we Bougainvilleans have been through a tough history with the disasters that came from the past operations at Panguna, then owned by Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL).

One of the key issues that led to our civil war, when around 20,000 of our friends and family died, was the way we were treated by BCL then – entering our lands without consent, poisoning our gardens and lives, removing our mountains, inviting in the military and ignoring our views, without compensating us fairly.

Since the end of the conflict, BCL has made no effort to resolve the damage they caused to our people, lands and rivers – infact they deny any responsibility and are trying to tell us what to do again, calling us impediments when we do not agree with the rules they try and dictate.

Have they learned nothing or think we have forgotten?

We have fought hard to protect ourselves from the same thing happening again if Panguna re-opens, and the new Bougainville mining law transferred ownership of the minerals to the landowners. As a result, now nothing can happen to our minerals without our consent.

Our Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA) members are now in a position to make BCL, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the world respect our views. One of the key steps in the process of late has been our efforts to protect ourselves from the attempt to force the return of BCL without our consent.

We have had to use the Courts to ensure we are listened too and the result has been a landmark mediation process, right here on our lands at Dapera led by Justice Kandakasi.

Mediation process

The mediation process was initiated by me to try and help resolve the challenge to my leadership of the SMLOLA by Mr Lawrence Daveona, despite the fact he is not following custom in recognising my leadership position, a position I was born into.

He also wants BCL to return despite everything they have done and failed to do, which is strongly opposed by the majority of our members, as demonstrated by the petition against the return of BCL which now stands at around 2000 members saying “No to BCL”.

The mediator has now given us one more opportunity to try and resolve this among our family which I am keen to do. I firmly believe we can all unite to protect our people against the return of BCL and I promise to make every effort to do that with Mr Daveona and the ABG.

I want to work with them to ensure any redevelopment of Panguna is done properly this time and our members are protected and looked after, respected and treated equally and fairly.

The primary objective of the mediation was to try and resolve the challenge to my rightful leadership of the SMLOLA by Mr Daveona, which I firmly believe is unlawful and will take to the courts again if necessary. I am making every effort to accommodate him as unity will have a very valuable benefit for all of us and the future of Bougainville.

One of the other valuable objectives that has come from the mediation and I have committed to work on, is to more closely align our association’s constitution with our Nasioi customs, moving key decisions back to our clan system that has been our way since time immemorial. I strongly support that and encourage everyone to participate as I believe it will assist in making any benefit sharing from a future mine fairer for all.

The mediation over the past few weeks, has also given our women, the owners of our land, the opportunity to stand up and be heard. Some of them are against mining and one of my important tasks will be to work with them further as I believe Independence for Bougainville is very important and mining, if done responsibly and with people who we can trust, who will show us respect and fairness, will enable us to get there quicker.

As part of that process, in my role as the chairman of the SMLOLA and an elder to our clans, I have worked hard to attract a reputable international mining company who has both the social and environmental track record to make sure this time the mine could be developed successfully, fully integrated into our local community.

Revolutionary law

From the time the new transitional mining law was passed in 2014, I worked closely with President Momis and both Mining Ministers, Michael Oni and Robin Wilson. In fact, on the day the law was passed I was invited to meet with President Momis at the ABG Parliament to celebrate the new revolutionary Bougainville Mining Act, which uniquely, gave ownership of the land and minerals, back to the landowners to try and repair some of the mistreatment of our people in the past.

They were then opposed to the return of BCL and supportive of our efforts right through until March this year when suddenly and inexplicably something changed. They would no longer engage with us, would not explain why and started a very public campaign supporting BCL and a challenge of my leadership by Mr Daveona.

I didn’t select RTG Mining Inc. lightly, even going to a mine their management developed in the Philippines with a group of both Panguna landowners and ABG Ministers to see how they do things. In fact, the three ABG Ministers that came to see the RTG operation in Philippines expressed support for RTG.

Over time we came to develop a trust with RTG’s management and believe they will make the redevelopment of Panguna a great success, working closely with our members. They have supported the hard work we have done over the last year to defend ourselves against the illegal return of BCL.

Misled through lies

It is disappointing that some try to mislead through lies. The suggestion that improper payments were made to ABG officials is both ridiculous and untrue. They are currently working against us and strongly pushing BCL and Lawrence, rather than being impartial which is all we ask of them.

Despite the current position of the ABG, we are confident that they will eventually hear our firm views – “No to BCL!” and we remain committed to working with them to find a solution where all will win, including the ABG. We must talk openly and respectfully to find a fair solution. The law and views must be respected and we will continue to fight for that for our members.

The mediation is not a forum to make a final call on who the developer should be and if the mine should be redeveloped, which must be done in conjunction with all our members, but it has been invaluable to be able to showcase the opportunities to highlight the issues and concerns with a possible return of BCL.

In fact, BCL and the ABG have publicly admitted they cannot develop the project themselves and would have to find a partner. Who will that be, why won’t they tell us? How can someone support them when we do not even know who the actual developer will be?

I hope that the discussions at the mediation will assist Mr Daveona to understand why our people would be better off without the return of BCL. And I will continue to work with him to try and reconcile our positions so we can stand united against them and get a far better result for our people, developing a model that is win-win for the people of Bougainville and the ABG.

Phillip Miriori is chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA), Me’ekamui Government of Unity and SMLOLA.

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RTG in fresh bid to get Panguna running

RTG Mining has put its hand up to be involved in the redevelopment of the massive Panguna copper-gold mine in Bougainville.

Kristie Batten | PNG Industry News | 28 June, 2017 

RTG confirmed that it had joined a consortium comprising the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA) and Central Exploration.

The company has paid US$750,000 for a minority stake in Central. 

The SMLOLA owns the minerals within the old Panguna mine and control the land.

The autonomous Bougainville government (ABG) owns a controlling stake in ASX-listed Bougainville Copper (BCL) after being gifted shares by former major shareholder Rio Tinto last year.

The ABG supports BCL’s plans to redevelop the abandoned mine.

According to Radio New Zealand, a protest by local landowners last week prevented the ABG from signing a memorandum of understanding with other landowners last week.

The SMLOLA is not prepared to grant access to the land to BCL.

RTG has agreed to partner SMLOLA in its proposed Panguna redevelopment if the proposal is successful.

SMLOLA is seeking to redevelop the mine in stages, starting with an initial 15 million tonne per annum plant.

RTG said there were strong parallels between the proposed redevelopment and the redevelopment of the Masbate gold mine in the Philippines, which was completed by the RTG management team.

RTG’s primary focus to date has been the Mabilo copper-gold project in the Philippines.

The company said its three largest shareholders are backing the proposed Panguna development.

Panguna has been suspended since 1989 due to the outbreak of civil war in Bougainville.

BCL has not had access to the mine since, and the company and Rio have faced allegations and lawsuits regarding their involvement in the conflict, as well as environmental damage.

BCL plans to spend more than $A100 million on feasibility studies and potentially introduce a new strategic partner.

A 2016 order of magnitude study considered a 60 million tonne per annum operation, with a possible expansion to 90Mtpa.

Under that scenario, capital costs would be $US6 billion for a 24-year mine starting in 2027. 

The expansion would cost a further $1 billion.

At the end of 2015, Panguna had resources of 1.8 billion tonnes at 0.3% copper and 0.34 grams per tonne gold for 5.3 million tonnes of copper and 19.3 million ounces of gold.

On the announcement, RTG shares jumped by 21% to A17c, capitalising the company at $28.5 million. At BCL’s last price of 33c, it had a market capitalisation of just over $130 million.

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RTG Joins Landowner Backed Consortium Proposal for Copper-Gold Panguna Project in Bougainville

RTG Mining | Stockhouse | 26 June, 2017

RTG Joins Landowner Backed Consortium Proposal in Respect of the Copper-Gold Panguna Project in Bougainville – Announcement to the Australian Securities Exchange and Toronto Stock Exchange

RTG Mining Inc. confirms recent press statements that it has been nominated as the development partner with the joint venture company of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (“SMLOLA”) and Central Exploration Pty Ltd (“Central”) in their proposal with respect to the redevelopment of the 1.5B tonne Copper-Gold Panguna Project located in the Central Region of the island of Bougainville, within the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea (“PNG”). RTG has subscribed US$0.75M into Central for a minority position in Central.  The proposal being led by the SMLOLA is a landowner initiative and will be subject to the success or otherwise of the SMLOLA in securing a role in the redevelopment of the mine.

This proposal is also, ultimately conditional upon the support of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (“ABG”) and others. RTG appreciates the trust and support the SMLOLA has shown the Company, recognising the community engagement track record and the development experience of the RTG management team, having successfully developed seven new mines in five different countries. RTG makes no representation that the SMLOLA led consortium proposal will be successful.  Both the show cause notice issued by the ABG to Bougainville Copper Limited (“BCL”) in connection with the previous exploration permit, which expired in September 2016 and the application for extension of the term of the licence are still under review by the ABG.  The ABG has expressed its support for BCL

The members of the SMLOLA are the owners of the customary land which is the subject of the old BCL operated Panguna open pit mine area.  In implementing the Bougainville Peace Agreement, a change in the mining law in 2014 resulted in the PNG ownership of mineral rights being expunged and the customary landowners becoming owners of the minerals within their land.  Accordingly, the SMLOLA own the minerals of the old Panguna Mine and are in control of access to their land, namely the Panguna pit.  The SMLOLA has stated that it will not grant access to their lands to BCL, a position they have held and expressed for an extended period of time. The Autonomous Region of Bougainville has gone through transformative changes over the last couple of years and has recognised the reopening of the Panguna Mine is an important economic initiative for all Bougainvilleans, which is supported strongly by the SMLOLA.

RTG will fully respect any rights of BCL and has agreed to act as the development partner should the SMLOLA be successful in their proposal.  RTG believes that the SMLOLA led consortium could provide a constructive and valuable contribution to resolving outstanding issues between all parties, with their proposal including the development of Panguna on a staged basis, starting at an initial targeted 15Mtpa plant size before then optimising the processing plant, subject to completion of a Feasiblity Study.  This will enhance the prospects of a successful referendum on Independence for Bougainville and much earlier access to financial rewards for all Bougainvilleans. There are strong parallels between this proposal and the redevelopment of the Masbate Gold Mine in the Phillipines, which was successfully developed by the RTG Management team.  The proposal also includes a Bougainville Redevelopment Fund to assist the landowners and ABG in implementing much needed social and infrastructure programs to enhance the livelihoods of all those in and around Panguna.

RTG’s three largest long term shareholders, whose publicly reported parent company net worth is in the order of US$30 billion, have expressed support for entering into the Panguna redevelopment proposal should it be successful.

ABOUT RTG MINING INC

RTG Mining Inc. is a mining and exploration company listed on the main board of the Toronto Stock Exchange and Australian Securities Exchange.  RTG is focused on developing the high grade copper/gold/magnetite Mabilo Project and advancing exploration on the highly prospective Bunawan Project, both in the Philippines, while also identifying major new projects which will allow the Company to move quickly and safely to production.

RTG has an experienced management team (previously responsible for the development of the Masbate Gold Mine in the Philippines through CGA Mining Limited), and has B2Gold as one of its major shareholders in the Company. B2Gold is a member of both the S&P/TSX Global Gold and Global Mining Indices.

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