Bougainville Government purchases 500,000 kina shares in BEIG a Chinese Joint Venture

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“I want to encourage the people of Bougainville so that we can all be involved in this task of creating a common thrust to empower the people of Bougainville and liberate ourselves from the syndrome of dependency,”

Momis Urges Unity see Press Release 2 Below

Bougainvilleans are a highly favoured people, due to the Bougainville Crises it is only in Bougainville that we have the unique opportunity to develop a new socio-economic political order and determine our own political future,”

ABG President Grand Chief Dr. John Momis

Pic Caption: ABG President Grand Chief Dr. John Momis receives the share certificate from BIEG Ltd Chairman Jason Fong while the ABG Minister for Economic Development, Fidelis Semoso looks on.

The autonomous arrangement on Bougainville cannot function effectively without an economic revenue stream to sustain it.

The ABG Minister for Economic Development, Fidelis Semoso made the statement during the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s purchase of five hundred thousand shares (K1 per share) in the Bougainville Import and Export General Corporation Limited (BIEG) worth K500, 000.00 last Friday.

“Despite the current economic turmoil in the country the Autonomous Bougainville Government continues to strive to create tangible economic development on Bougainville,” Mr Semoso said.

“The purchase of the shares signifies the ABG’s commitment to give meaning to economic recovery on Bougainville,” Semoso said.

Semoso said that the purchase of the shares did not mean that the government was ignoring local businesses.

“The ABG is committed helping indigenous businesses as shown through our initiative to let locals borrow from the National Development Bank start up or support capital for their businesses,” Semoso said.

Semoso said the K2 million given to NDB to allow locals to loan to support their businesses would be increased next year to allow more stimuli in Bougainville’s economy.

The BIEG is a joint venture between the ABG and a Chinese corporation that is involved in numerous projects in the agriculture and manufacturing sector on Bougainville to create a self-sustaining economic drive in the region.

ABG President Chief Dr John Momis also congratulated Minister Semoso and the Department of Economic Development for the initiative in creating more economic opportunities for Bougainvilleans.

“I want to encourage the people of Bougainville so that we can all be involved in this task of creating a common thrust to empower the people of Bougainville and liberate ourselves from the syndrome of dependency,” the President said.

The President also made mention of the current financial dilemma in Bougainville but he said the people showed exuberance in creating their own business ventures with minimal help from the government and that showed a dynamic movement of people.

Over one million shares in BIEG Limited have already been purchased by Bougainvilleans prior to the ABG’s purchase and this number has been steadily growing.

On behalf of the people of Bougainville the ABG shares will be held by the government’s business arm the Bougainville Public Investment Corporation Limited.

Momis Urges Unity

The Autonomous Bougainville Government President, Chief Dr John Momis has made a call for unity to all Bougainvilleans as the region prepares to decide its political future through a referendum.

“Bougainvilleans must unite to implement the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the Referendum peacefully and let it be a process of integrity,” Momis said.

“Bougainvilleans are a highly favoured people, due to the Bougainville Crises it is only in Bougainville that we have the unique opportunity to develop a new socio-economic political order and determine our own political future,” he said.

Momis said that Bougainvilleans must understand that they must be prepared to except the consequences of their decisions come the referendum in a couple of years’ time so it was imperative that the people make informed decisions to determine their future.

“If we mess it up now then we are bound to fail and not realize our aspirations but if we follow through with the Bougainville Peace Agreement and respect the rule of law, promote good governance and except the responsibility of our actions then we will be able to liberate ourselves,” Momis said.

Momis also urged Bougainvilleans to do a self-analysis and embrace their core values that comprised of Christian and cultural principles that would refine Bougainville society and give a strong foundation to the people as they move toward the future.

“Our world view is one that not only ends here but extends to the future and onto the next life and is one that looks toward creating a just society that empowers the people and respects their dignity,” Momis said.

The Referendum to determine Bougainville’s political future has been slated for June 15 2019, though only a working date it is highly practical proposal consensually agreed upon by the ABG and the National Government in the Joint Supervisory Board early this year.

Meanwhile both the ABG and the National Government are at loggerheads over the GoPNG’s continued delay in releasing grants owed to the ABG.

The continued financial chokehold the GoPNG has over Bougainville and recent fiasco surrounding the Bougainville Copper Limited shares has sown the seeds of discontent erupted strong nationalist feelings amongst Bougainvilleans.

Even the multi-million kina road sealing projects on Bougainville have come to a halt with the GoPNG showing no imitativeS to move ahead with the projects which have been tendered and contractors already on site.

 

 

Bougainville Education News : Improving literacy in Bougainville, one step at a time

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Literacy is very important in the community; teaching people to read and write is vital, because a lot of kids here during the crisis did not go to school and are only just now learning to read and write.”

Aravira’s Head Teacher Herman Parito

WATCH VIDEO

“There are strong indications that the benefits of mobile reading like kindles are long-lasting and far-reaching, with the potential to improve literacy, increase education opportunities and change people’s lives for the better.

A revolution in reading is upon us…”

Ex President James Tanis Founder of another local Arawa based project

Bookgainville E Kindles Project see Below

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Students  from Aravira Primary School in central Bougainville, Papua New Guinea on their walk to school – which for some, takes up to four hours

From Tom Perry World Bank report

After a two-hour drive from the nearest main road, our 4WD can travel no further; me and my travelling companions will have to trek the rest of our journey to Aravira Primary School in Bougainville on foot. As we set off, a group of students from the school emerge from the bush in front of us. They smile, extend their hands in welcome and immediately offer to take my backpack.

I politely refuse, yet within minutes I regret my decision to turn down help. As we move through the long grass along the mountain ridge, the heat which a few minutes ago was manageable is now unbearable. I’m pouring in sweat. My backpack feels 10 kilograms heavier, and the ground beneath me feels as if I’m stepping onto ice. Ten minutes into our journey, I lose my feet, slip into a crevice, and land face-first in the nearest bush.

As I’m helped back onto my feet by the kids, I ask them how much further we have to go to get to the school. They giggle, then simply start walking again. I discover soon enough that the answer to my question is ‘two and half gruelling hours.’ This is a seriously hard trek, clearly not for the faint of heart.

An hour later, I struggle up the next ridge, hiking boots still soaked from yet another river crossing, and it really hits me; this is their daily walk to school.

Aravira Primary School is located deep in the Bougainville mountains. It’s a remote, picturesque spot, and is home to 120 students from Aravira and Remsi, the two communities located within ‘walking distance’ of the school. Yet given the school is at least four hours’ journey from the nearest town, Chairman Henry Topowa tells me after I arrive that ‘walking distance’ is a relative concept up here.

“Access by road is very difficult. Both communities are quite far from the school, so the students have to walk a fair distance and cross rivers to come each day to school,” Henry explains. “When it rains, we have to send the children home because of the weather, because it’s very risky in certain areas.”

Henry says that for those coming to the school from beyond the two nearest communities, it’s an even bigger challenge.

“A lot of people here, especially the teachers, travel back and forth on foot. It takes between four to five hours by foot. If we travel into town as early as 6am, we usually arrive back in the village around 9pm or even 10 pm.”

Due to this remoteness, my travelling companions and I are the first non-Bougainvillean visitors to the school in over a year. Yet this is not an unusual story across much of the country. An estimated 60% of Papua New Guineans live in rural areas, which in Bougainville means they’re likely living in dense, mountainous jungle or in small villages dotted along the coastline. In these areas, services such as schools and medical clinics are few and far between, a fact further compounded by the island’s ten-year conflict that saw tens of thousands of families living in hiding in the bush for much of the 1990s.

This remoteness and decades of limited opportunity has driven the students and teachers at Aravira – and many schools just like it – to push for better education, including through the World Bank-supported READ PNG project. In addition to training more than 24,000 teachers, the project has seen the establishment of 21,000 classroom libraries filled with around 1.1 million books to schools across PNG.

More than 21,000 classroom libraries similar to this one have been established across Papua New Guinea through the World Bank-supported READ PNG project in an effort to improve literacy in PNG.

More than 21,000 classroom libraries similar to this one have been established across Papua New Guinea through the World Bank-supported READ PNG project in an effort to improve literacy in PNG.

And having made the brutal trek in to Aravira Primary School, I ask School Chairman Henry Topowa about the challenge of delivering hundreds of books to a place so remote. He beams with pride when he recounts the story.

“The road was muddy and slippery. We crossed a river along the way which was flooding. We had to balance ourselves carrying the books over an unsteady wooden bridge at the river,” Henry tells me.

“It was raining and we were scared that the books would get wet, so we cut banana leaves and placed them over the box of books and onto our shoulders. Others placed them in bilums [a woven bag, common across PNG] and carried them on their backs. It was very hard.”

Henry is steadfast in his belief in the power of education on the lives of the students at his school.

“Literacy is very important in the community; teaching people to read and write is vital, because a lot of kids here during the crisis did not go to school and are only just now learning to read and write.”

Aravira’s Head Teacher Herman Parito says that even before the books arrived, the community deeply understood the value of reading, and therefore are all willing to do their part to support it.

“The community here are always willing to help. When I said we needed labor to build classroom libraries, they did it. We brought in the plywood needed to build the mini libraries, and the parents responded.”

He adds that since the READ PNG books came in mid-2015, he’s already seen their impact.

Aravira Primary School Chairman, Henry Topowa says the school was determined to bring READ PNG books to the school, no matter how challenging the journey to bring them in.

Aravira Primary School Chairman, Henry Topowa says the school was determined to bring READ PNG books to the school, no matter how challenging the journey to bring them in.

“We’ve been using the books for two terms now and I’ve seen a big improvement in students reading according to their test results.”

After our chat, Henry and Herman then invite me to a class to see the new books for myself. As I’m introduced to the class, the confusion I expect of seeing a stranger in class is largely absent. I get a few grins and a couple of giggles, but beyond that, most of the students are focused squarely on their books.

Considering the hard work it took to get those books here and into these students’ hands, it’s no surprise that they’re so committed to soaking up every word in those pages.

Improving Literacy in Remote Bougainville  

 For More Info about Bookgainville this local project contact James Tanis , Simon Pentanu , or Contact Theresa Jaintong at the Arawa Womens Centre

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Bougainville Tourism News : Communities See Tourism Gold in Derelict Bougainville Mine

panguna

Panguna is one of the historical sites in Bougainville. People go up to Panguna to see for themselves the damage done and want to know more about why the Bougainville Crisis erupted,”

Zhon Bosco Miriona, managing director of Bougainville Experience Tours, a local tourism company based in the nearby town of Arawa, which caters to about 50-100 international tourists per year, agrees.

Our future is very, very dangerous if we reopen the Panguna mine. Because thousands of people died, we are not going to reopen the mine. We must find a new way to build the economy,

We envisage tourists visiting the enigmatic valley in the heart of the Crown Prince Ranges to stay in eco-lodges and learn of its extraordinary history

Philip Takaung, vice president of the Panguna-based Mekamui Tribal Government

Originally published here

Picture Landowner Lynette Ona, along with local leaders and villagers in the Panguna mine area, look to tourism as a sustainable economic alternative to large-scale mining in post-conflict Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

PANGUNA, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, Sep 7 2016 (IPS) – The Panguna copper mine, located in the mountains of Central Bougainville, an autonomous region in the southwest Pacific Island state of Papua New Guinea, has been derelict for 27 years since an armed campaign by local landowners forced its shutdown and triggered a decade-long civil war in the late 1980s.

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The former Rio Tinto majority-owned extractive venture hit world headlines when the Nasioi became the world’s first indigenous people to compel a major multinational to abandon one of its most valuable investments during a bid to defend their land against environmental destruction.

“That is what we were fighting for: environment, land and culture.” — Lynette Ona

Today, local leaders and entrepreneurs, including former combatants, see the site playing a key role in sustainable development, but not as a functioning mine.

“Our future is very, very dangerous if we reopen the Panguna mine. Because thousands of people died, we are not going to reopen the mine. We must find a new way to build the economy,” Philip Takaung, vice president of the Panguna-based Mekamui Tribal Government, told IPS.

He and many local villagers envisage tourists visiting the enigmatic valley in the heart of the Crown Prince Ranges to stay in eco-lodges and learn of its extraordinary history.

“It is not just the mine site; families could build places to serve traditional local food for visitors. We have to build a special place where visitors can experience our local food and culture,” villager Christine Nobako added. Others spoke of the appeal of the surrounding rainforest-covered peaks to trekkers and bird watchers.

An estimated 20,000 people in Bougainville, or 10 percent of the population, lost their lives during the conflict, known as the ‘Crisis.’ Opposition by local communities to the mine, apparent from the exploration phase in the 1960s, intensified after operations began in 1972 by Australian subsidiary, Bougainville Copper Ltd, when they claimed mine tailings were destroying agricultural land and polluting nearby rivers used as sources of freshwater and fish. Hostilities quickly spread in 1989 after the company refused to meet landowners’ demands for compensation and a civil war raged until a ceasefire in 1998.

In the shell of a former mine building, IPS spoke with Takaung and Lynette Ona, local landowner and niece of Francis Ona, the late Bougainville Revolutionary Army leader. A short distance away, the vast six-kilometre-long mine pit is a silent reminder of state-corporate ambition gone wrong.

According to Ona, the remarkable story of how a group of villagers thwarted the power and zeal of a global mining company is a significant chapter in the history of the environmental movement “because that is what we were fighting for; environment, land and culture.” And, as such, she says, makes Panguna a place of considerable world interest.

Front cover-Sam

Bougainville Experience Tours

Zhon Bosco Miriona, managing director of Bougainville Experience Tours, a local tourism company based in the nearby town of Arawa, which caters to about 50-100 international tourists per year, agrees.

“Panguna is one of the historical sites in Bougainville. People go up to Panguna to see for themselves the damage done and want to know more about why the Bougainville Crisis erupted,” he said.

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In a recent survey of Panguna communities by Australian non-government organisation, Jubilee Australia, tourism was identified as the second most popular economic alternative to mining after horticulture and animal farming. Although realising the industry’s full potential requires challenges for local entrepreneurs, such as access to finance and skills development, being addressed.

Objection here to the return of mining is related not only to the deep scars of the violent conflict, but also the role it is believed to have had in increasing inequality. For example, of a population of about 150,000 in the 1980s, only 1,300 were employed in the mine’s workforce, while the vast majority of its profits, which peaked at 1.7 billion kina (US$527 million), were claimed by Rio Tinto and the Papua New Guinea government.

Today, post-war reconstruction and human development progress in Bougainville is very slow, while the population has doubled to around 300,000. One third of children are not in school, less than 1 percent of the population have access to electricity and the maternal mortality rate could be as high as 690 per 100,000 live births, estimates the United Nations Development Program.

People want an economy which supports equitable prosperity and long term peace and local experts see unlimited possibilities for tourism on these tropical islands which lie just south of the equator and boast outstanding natural beauty

“In terms of doing eco-tourism, Bougainville has the rawness. There are the forests, the lakes, the sea, the rivers and wetlands,” Lawrence Belleh, Director of Bougainville’s Tourism Office in the capital, Buka, told IPS.

Bougainville was also the site of battles during World War II and many relics from the presence of Australian, New Zealand, American and Japanese forces can be seen along the Numa Numa Trail, a challenging 60-kilometre trek from Bougainville Island’s east to west coasts.

“There are a lot of things that are not told about Bougainville, the historical events which happened during World War II and also the stories which the ex-combatants [during the Crisis] have, which they can tell…..we have a story to tell, we can share with you if you are coming over,” Belleh enthused.

Improving local infrastructure, such as transport and accommodation, and dispelling misperceptions of post-conflict Bougainville are priorities for the tourism office in a bid to increase visitor confidence.

“Many people would perceive Bougainville as an unsafe place to come and visit, but that was some years back. In fact, Bougainville is one of the safest places [for tourists] in Papua New Guinea. The people are very friendly, they will greet you, take you to their homes and show you around,” Belleh said.

 AA

 

Bougainville Communications/ New Technologies PART 2 : Creating awareness on the referendum and development

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People can now listen to information on radio by tuning in to Shortwave 1 frequency; 3.325 kilohertz on NBC Bougainville and the shortwave radio signal covers all parts of Bougainville and can be heard as far as East of Hawaii, Germany, Australia and the Pacific,”

“To stimulate public interest and create awareness on the referendum and development in Bougainville we have since June conducted 10 live talk back shows hosted by ABG’s Mobile Community Radio – Radio Ples Lain and relayed over NBC Bougainville and New Dawn,”

ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis

Pic Caption: ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis (seated), with UNDP reps, chiefs and local leaders at the official launching of the upgraded NBC Bougainville studios last week.

The Autonomous Bougainville Government is making headway in developing the media in the region to allow people more access to information.

This move has seen the upgrade of the NBC Bougainville facilities where the ABG committed K5 million to improve the coverage and broadcasting of the radio station.

In opening the facility ABG President Grand Chief Dr John Momis said this included the procurement of new studio broadcast equipment, renovation to the Hutjena studio, procurement of a brand new fully digital 10 kilowatt shortwave transmitter.

We intend to embark on a region wide awareness campaign working closely with Constituency members, Communality Government, Village Assemblies, Women, Youth and Churches.

Momis added that the Bureau of Public Affairs, Media and Communication has so far produced and air 160 radio programmes since February to August 2016.

These radio programmes have been well appreciated by the people as they gain insight and understanding on what the government is doing at Department and Ministry level.

Another important development is the ABG’s very own Bougainville Bulletin which has progressed well with well over 150,000 copies distributed all over Bougainville since 2015.

President Momis also revealed that the ABG has started developing resource material to support awareness on the Bougainville Peace Agreement and especially Referendum.

The UNDP as per the ABG’s request has supported the government with the procurement of equipment.

The equipment will be utilised to conduct awareness at the community level and includes a new information center based in Buka Town with literary material and a mobile audio visual vehicle convinently named Piksa Ples Lain.

 

Bougainville Communications News : New technologies to improve Bougainville Government governance and transparency

ABG

The Bougainville Peace Agreement is the real basis for us all being here today. It provides us with an exclusive right to self-determination. We can choose and shape our future, a right unique in PNG, and rare internationally. We should celebrate this right.”

President Chief Dr. John Momis Launching the AROB Website

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The new system will strengthen accountability and transparency of Bougainville’s Parliament and its representatives, This equipment will help our electorates have more access to what their representatives are saying here on their behalf and will enable them to ask questions. It will help make the parliament more accountable.”

Overall, the support we have received from UN is helping us improve governance and the Parliamentary Service in particular.” 

Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea, Simon Pentanu

Picture: Hansard system handover ceremony with Lawrence Bassie, UNDP Programme Coordinator, Speaker of the Bougainville House of Representative Simon Pentanu and Acting Chief Secretary Paul Kebori.

FROM the new Bougainville Government Website http://www.abg.gov.pg/

The Bougainville Peace Agreement is a joint creation of the Government of Papua New guinea and Bougainville leaders, signed on 30 August 2001 in Arawa. It was heralded then as world class peace document. The Agreement provides a road map for all parties, based on three pillars: Autonomy, Weapons Disposal and a Referendum on Bougainville’s political status.

UNDERSTANDING THE BOUGAINVILLE PEACE AGREEMENT:

The Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) is the outcome of more than 20 agreements signed by Bougainville leaders and the National Government leaders on August 30 2001 to find lasting peace and a political settlement for the people of Bougainville. The BPA calls for Bougainville to have its own constitution and further calls for a Bougainville constitution that recognizes the sovereignty of PNG and the PNG Constitution.

Among the many agreed aspects contained in the BPA, they can be categorised under the three main pillars described as:

  • The agreed Autonomy arrangement for Bougainville;
  • The agreed weapons disposal plan adopted by the Peace Process Consultative Committee following consultation with the ex-combatants; and
  • The agreement to a constitutionally guaranteed referendum on Bougainville’s political future to be held amongst Bougainvilleans in 10-15 years after the establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government. When conditions are right with a separate independence as an option and the outcome subject to the final decision-making authority of the National Parliament.

LEARN MORE:

Read more about the three pillars (AutonomyWeapons Disposal & Referendum) and access the key documents associated with the BPA.

New Hansard recording system

New Hansard recording system has been installed at the Bougainville Parliament enabling it to record and transcribe its sessions and proceedings.

The Hansard system is a digital system used to produce transcripts of the Parliament’s debates and sessions, a global practice that ensures accountability and transparency of the Parliaments around the world. It was brought to Bougainville as part of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) support to the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

The Hansard system was installed by For The Record, an Australian based company. It is fitted with the most up to date software and is the same one used around the world including in Australia and UK Parliaments.

The system allows for primary and backup recording in both main parliamentary chamber and committee room. All recordings are then automatically replicated to a central archive server of the intranet, from where  all audio playback and log notes can be accessed and reviewed.

Lawrence Bassie, Programme Coordinator of the Peace Building Fund Programme in Bougainville, who handed over the equipment to the Speaker said that this is part of UNDP’s overall support to help build good governance and capacity of the Autonomous Bougainville Government: “The UN is here to support you in line with the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s initiatives and their aspirations for the people of Bougainville.”

Acting Chief Secretary, head of the Bougainville Public Service, Paul Kebori, noted that the Parliament is critical for democracy and the Hansard equipment will ensure “Up-to-date records of Parliamentary proceedings which will also be accessed in the future by the public.”

UNDP’s support is made possible through the UN Peace Building Fund and is aimed at helping the Government of Papua New Guinea and Autonomous Bougainville Government consolidate peace, enhance community cohesion, good governance and build capacity of various government departments.

 

Bougainville Tourism News : Takanupe we must conserve for future generations

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 “These aren’t just beautiful islands with white beaches surrounded by pristine waters and bountiful reefs. They serve a multitude of existential purposes for man and for the larger purpose and meaning of nature with which we are inexplicably linked and bound.

It must behove us and is incumbent upon us to do our part to care, respect and conserve these fragile islands and marine eco-systems for our generations to come just as our ancestors have done for our generation. This is a covenant that is sacrosanct and timeless that we must be beholden to in a symbiotic world that we share with living nature.”

Simon Pentanu Uruna Bay Retreat – Pok Pok Island Bougainville

An island of the gods, resplendent in its natural beauty at sea, mimicking a miniature land and forest that Moreha (Bougainville ) is, beatified by its beauty, rich in its colours and alluring with everything it displays, from its crab-like shape with its claws harbouring it’s azure deep sky blue kakunibarra (lagoon) and the beach and trees seeming like a longish body of the crustacean seen from above.

There are more than a dozen small uninhabited islands that dot this stretch of east coast along Central Bougainville, like from Vito past Takanupe and its sister island Kurukiki nearby, and past the Zeunes where the planes make their approach to land at one of most picturesque beachside airports at Aropa.

Most of these small islands have their own kakunibarra of some size, shape, depth or other. But Takanupe’s kakunibarra  is the most conspicuous because it is larger in surface area than the land area of the island itself. It is curiously beautiful and alive from the satellite’s view from above.

These kakunibarra teem with all kinds of fishes of the sea. They are respected by fishermen along with their tales that serve the purpose of conservation when you find out what the moral of these stories is.

Myths and folklore about places and about real life stories are passed down to serve a purpose. Many were passed down to protect and conserve the islands, its reefs and its natural but fragile environment.

It used to be you could only get to this and other islands by canoe, get  enough for your needs as a subsistence fisherman and paddle back home.

If you wanted more fish for a feast or ceremony or some other important occasion you stayed overnight or longer and returned home with a canoe-full of smoked fish mixed with some fresh fish caught as you returned home. There isn’t this abundance of fish stock any more, because of the easy and more frequent forays by fishermen and others using motorized boats to get to these islands and their kakunibarra.

It must behove us and is incumbent upon us to do our part to care, respect and conserve these fragile islands and marine eco-systems for our generations to come just as our ancestors have done for our generation.

Bougainville Mining News: Rio Tinto exit from Bougainville and Panguna landowners

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Until Rio Tinto announced its decision to exit Bougainville, extensive consultations over the past 6 years helped develop broad consensus amongst Panguna lease landowner communities, the wider Bougainville community, and the ABG on working towards re-opening the Panguna mine, with majority Rio Tinto owned BCL as the mine operator.

Significant new issues now arise because of the way that Rio Tinto has decided to exit Bougainville. This note deals with some key issues arising from:

  • Rio Tinto dividing its 53.8% equity between ABG (36.4%) and PNG (17.4%),
  • the Prime Minister announcing that the 17.4% PNG received from Rio should be transferred to ‘landowners and the people of Bougainville’, but retained by PNG until agreement on how it should be distributed;
  • Rio Tinto deciding it is not responsible in any way for Panguna legacy issues

Value of the Shares in BCL The only way the shares will ever have significant value is if three condition are met:

1) A new and technically qualified developer must agree to participate;

2) That developer must be able to provide the approximately K20 billion needed to re-open the mine;

3) The mine needs to be re-built and operate profitably. Because of the need for the K20 billion investment, the percentages of all existing shareholder will be diluted to very little if the mine re-opens.

In that case, the real value for landowners will not come from those existing shares, but instead from the guarantees in the Bougainville Mining Act for mine lease landowners to share in mine benefits through: free equity; royalties; and preference in employment and business opportunities.

What is Happening with the 17.4% Now Held by PNG? 

Many major uncertainties exist here. In particular:

The NEC decision of 4th August only approved ‘in principle’ transfer ‘to the landowners and the People of Bougainville including the Panguna Mine landowners’. In Parliament on 18 August the Prime Minister is reported (in Post Courier, August 19) to have said that it is ‘up to the landowners, the people and the government to decide on the percentage allocations’. The PNG Government will continue to be ‘custodian’ until ‘landowners, the people and ABG resolve their differences’.

Determining a monetary value for the BCL shares is difficult. It can be measured in various ways. When PNG was considering buying the 53.8% from Rio, it was discussing a price of $100 million. Informal information suggests this was a reasonable valuation. However, Rio’s exit, its divesting of its shares in BCL, the growing uncertainty about ownership of the 17.4%, and the overall reduced certainty about the future of Panguna all makes the BCL shares less valuable.

The main value that exists in BCL involves:

1) money and securities (about K135 million, some of it already committed); 2) Panguna drilling and exploration data ‘translated’ by BCL into a modern mine planning program; 3) the exploration licence over the former Panguna SML area granted under the ABG Mining Act.

 

What is meant by ‘the landowners’ and ‘the Panguna Landowners’? how shares would be held by landowners (e.g. as individuals, as clan groups, as representative association), and how distribution/allocation between them will be decided.

Suggestions are being made that the 17.4% will be the compensation for legacy issues. Minister Lera has been reported to say the goal is for landowners to become millionaires.But the value of the shares is uncertain, and undoubtedly quite low, and it is very uncertain who the shares might be transferred to or when they might be transferred. Without the mine re-opening, there will be very little if any money from the shares for the landowners.Even more important is the fact that even if the shares are transferred, that will do nothing to meet the huge expense involved in dealing with environmental damage and the impacts experienced by relocated village communities.

Dealing with Environmental Damage and Impacts of Relocated Villages

In the seven weeks since Rio Tinto first advised the ABG of its decision to exit from Bougainville, the ABG has already initiated steps to get action and funding in relation to the terrible problems caused by the mine and by Rio Tinto failing to accept responsibility for the damage done. In particular, we have acted to:

At this stage, the ABG is aiming to see Rio Tinto, and the Australian and PNG Governments commit significant funds to a Trust Fund to meet the costs of action in relation to mine legacy issues.

Bougainville, and the mine-lease landowners, cannot wait to see if a new developer can be found, and the mine actually re-opens. The earliest possible action is needed in relation to issues such as chemical stock-piles, the breaches to the Tailings levy banks and the flooding of neighboring areas, the damage to the Kawerong and Jaba rivers, and the conditions in which relocated village communities live.

Can the 17.4% be a Basis for Compensation for Mine Legacy Issues?

So no one knows what proportion of the 17.4% shares would go where, and how long it would take, under the Prime Minister’s proposals.

  • create international awareness of injustice and breaches of human rights;
  • get high level advice about action taken, in relation to these problems; and
  • obtain legal advice about possible legal action against Rio Tinto.(a) Awareness: (b) High Level Advice:

The ABG has made direct approaches to numerous organisations seeking advice and assistance. They include:

Much more work is needed to create media awareness. But international awareness can also be contributed by other action and contacts.

Getting international community awareness of the issues involved is a first major step towards putting pressure on Rio Tinto.

After we supplied a senior Australian journalist with extensive information on the issues, he interviewed the President and wrote a major article published in the main Sunday newspapers in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra on 21 August. Several stories appeared in The Australian newspaper after the Prime Minister’s announcement about transferring shares to landowners and the people   of Bougainville.

Numerous stories have been broadcast on Radio Australia and Radio NZ International. In July story was broadcast on Australian ABC TV news. The resident ABC journalist is planning a 4 day visit to Bougainville to develop a major television story for Australia. A journalist from The Australian newspaper is also planning a visit to Bougainville.

The United National Environment Program;

  • Human rights and corporate social responsibility monitoring organisations, including:
  • Human Rights Watch;
  • Amnesty International;

International Alert;

  • Shift (a US-based organization that monitors the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights);
  • Some NGOs and consultancy organisations that deal with corporate social responsibility and businesses and human rights;
  • The German-based Catholic Church development organization, Misereor, in relation to business and human rights issues (a focus of that organization).

Initial legal advice has been obtained from Professor James Otto (mining lawyer and mining economist who assisted the ABG develop its mining policy and mining law). A senior officer in Misereor with experience in corporate social responsibility and human rights has this week provided additional contacts with lawyers who work in this field in Germany and the United Kingdom, and these lawyers will be contacted in the coming days. The initial suggestions are that court action should be initiated, and the various options will be evaluated.

 

It includes dealing direct with groups of ethical investors with a view to persuading them to withdraw investment from Rio Tinto in protest at their treatment of Bougainville. The aim is to make Rio concerned that their share price will fall if they fail to act fairly in relation to Bougainville. Similarly, we have been advised to enter discussions with organisations that maintain indexes of corporate social responsibility and corporate performance in relation to human rights. Reduced ranking in such indexes can also result in share prices dropping.

We are still in the early stages of obtaining advice and sorting through the information and suggestions being received.

Bougainville Mining News : PNG Panguna decision under ” mines “Bougainville’s autonomy say Momis

Momis

Prime Minister, the reasons for your decision on the equity suggest that you believe that you know better than the ABG about Bougainville’s mining policy needs. You substitute your views for ours. Yet under the Bougainville Peace Agreement, responsibility for Bougainville mining policy has been transferred, so that these are now matters solely for the ABG.”

Letter from Bougainville President to PM of PNG

Dear Prime Minister,

I refer to your Government’s decision to allocate the 17.4 per cent equity in BCL (recently received from Rio Tinto) to ‘Panguna landowners and the people of Bougainville’. The decision must be rejected by the Autonomous Bougainville Government (the ABG).

PNG Panguna decision under mines Bougainville’s autonomy say Momis

You are reported as telling the Parliament on Thursday 18 August 2016 that you:

  • ‘deliberately’ decided that the ABG should not be majority shareholder in BCL,
  • ‘wanted a separate vehicle that the landowners can meaningfully and directly participate in BCL’, and
  • do ‘not believe’ that the 5 per cent interest for landowners in mining operating companies provided under the Bougainville Mining is ‘sufficient enough to compensate some of the suffering the people of Bougainville had’.

Prime Minister, the reasons for your decision on the equity suggest that you believe that you know better than the ABG about Bougainville’s mining policy needs. You substitute your views for ours. Yet under the Bougainville Peace Agreement, responsibility for Bougainville mining policy has been transferred, so that these are now matters solely for the ABG.

We have given careful attention to mining policy. We give landowners veto power over ABG grant of mining licences, giving them real and direct involvement in decision-making. They must be satisfied with conditions and benefits before a project proceeds. A minority 17.4 per cent BCL equity that you propose will not give them any control over decision-making.

ABG policy also guarantees landowners 5% free equity in any mining operating company. If Panguna does re-open, that will be worth much more than 17.4% in the current BCL. Because re-opening will cost about K20 billion, a new developer will definitely be needed. The new capital requirements would then dilute all present BCL equity shares to tiny percentages. So 17.4 per cent in the existing BCL will only make landowners etc. minority shareholders in a company now worth very little.

By comparison, our Act guarantees they will have valuable equity in the fully funded project, if it re-opens. Our act also guarantees separate 1.25 per cent royalty shares each for: 1) mine lease landowners; 2) projects for those landowners; 3) adjacent landowners; and 4) infrastructure development for Bougainville generally.

It also guarantees landowner preference in mine employment and business opportunities. So our law offers very real financial benefits especially to landowners, but also to all Bougainvilleans.

The ABG believes that you are making ill-informed decisions about a complex situation that you clearly do not understand, and which do not bring real benefits to landowners. The decisions undermine autonomy, and are bad for Bougainville.

As the government of all Bougainvilleans, the ABG needs majority BCL shareholding to give it clear decision-making authority about Panguna in the interests of all Bougainvilleans, both landowners and others.

Bougainvilleans ask why you interfere in our mining policy. Do you fear that ABG control of Panguna could provide the revenue needed for Bougainville independence? In fact, no one knows if the agreed process under the Peace Agreement will lead to independence. More important, interfering in mining issues only causes deep anger in Bougainville. That is likely to cause increased support for independence. The only way you can now reduce support for independence is to work in cooperation with the ABG to make people see that autonomy really meets the needs of Bougainville. Supporting our mining policy is an essential start.

The ABG cannot allow your bad decisions to stand. I now offer you a final opportunity to resolve this issue. I request you to direct transfer of the 17.4 per cent to the ABG.

If you refuse to do so, the ABG must use other means to keep clear control of decisions on Panguna. In particular, we will cancel BCL’s exploration licence under the Bougainville Mining Act (notice to show cause why it should not be cancelled has already been given to BCL). We will then seek a new developer by inviting tenders using powers under our Mining Act.

That licence is BCL’s major asset. So cancellation would probably make all BCL shares almost worthless, including the 19.2% BCL equity PNG has held since 1972. Until now the ABG has been open to PNG retaining that equity. If Panguna re-opens, the National Government could then keep equity involvement. But if interference in ABG control of mining continues, we have no choice but to cancel the licence and completely end PNG involvement in Panguna.

That will not reduce landowner involvement in decisions about Panguna, or their sharing fairly in revenue, for the Bougainville Mining Act ensures their full involvement in both.

I await your response.

Yours sincerely,

John L. Momis

President, ARoB

 

 

Bougainville Mining News: Minister Miringtoro responds to the attacks on PNG National Government by President Momis

timthumb

As the member for Central Bougainville elected by the people of Central Bougainville into the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea, am concern about the continued media attacks by the ABG President John Momis regarding the transfer of 17.4% shares to landowners and people of Bougainville, by the National Government. As far as I know during his meeting with the Prime Minister which was attended by the Regional Member for Bougainville and Minister for Bougainville Affairs, Joe Lera, the President Momis agreed to the share distribution to the Landowners and ABG. “

The 17.4% BCL share equity in effect were gifted to the National Government by Rio Tinto. It was therefore was the prerogative of the Prime Minister to give the shares to the landowners as a token of goodwill.

ABG on the other hand was offered 36% percent by Rio Tinto through the National Government, making it a majority shareholder.

I don’t see any logic in the President’s Statement that such a move is a threat to the Peace Agreement. In my it is a step in the right direction in strengthening the peace by addressing one of root causes of the Bougainville Crisis, by giving shares to landowners who had been deprived of proper compensation, for permanent damage to their land and their environment.

Hon. Jimmy Miringtoro, OBE MP Press Release

This distribution of shares was tabled and approved by the cabinet on the 11th of August 2016.

Even any attempt by BCL to clean up the mess will not restore it to it’s original state. Firstly let me remind the good President that in the 20 years when the mine was in operation during his terms in office as a Senior Minister and Statesman, he never made any effort to negotiate for equitable benefits to landowners from the proceeds from the mine through ownership of shares in BCL.

Needless to say that during that time Panguna mine was one of the most profitable mines in the world and the shares were worth their weight in gold. Today we have to put up with childish bickering from the President over shares that are worthless unless there is mining operations churning out profits.

The President goes on to say that the ABG Mining Law gives landowners full decision-making involvement and good revenue sharing opportunity if mining resumes. That is untrue. Firstly the mining law was written by an organization that has a reputation of undermining rights of indigenous people and liberalizing economies in the Third World for take over by large corporations. Secondly, the Mining Law violates the United Nations Charter on the Rights on Indigenous People especially the concept of “Free Prior Informed Consent” or FPIC.

The Mining Law should have gone under the scrutiny of the landowners via independent legal consultations. The whole matter was virtually dropped on the people in the mine-affected areas of Central Bougainville and also the people of Bougainville at large. As the mandated Member of the National Parliament, representing the landowner of Central Bougainville, I have consulted with the Prime Minister prior to making the decision to give the shares to the landowners. It is the only way justice can be served to people who have not lost their land, their environment which is their livelihood, but also their lives.

The President’s outbursts are shameful because he was the one who stirred up the landowner sentiments to cover up his failures at the national level, in securing better outcomes for the landowners in the mine affected areas.

He verbally attacked BCL in 1989 and came up with a dream he called “The Bougainville Initiative” in which he tried to bring in another company to replace BCL as the miner at Panguna. The President can start to make peace with the people of Panguna and Bougainville by admitting that he had failed them. He should apologize to them for the sufferings and miseries they faced when they chose to take up arms because he did not hear their cries as their leader and representative in the National Parliament.

He could have prevented the war if he had been honest right from the start. The President must now talk with the Landowners about the shares instead of making unnecessary attacks on the National Government, which has done its part. The giving of shares to landowners and ABG is an indication that the Government has a genuine concern for the welfare of the landowners. It anticipates further negotiations and discussions with ABG and landowners to decide how best to work together for the benefit of all parties.

However, up till now President Momis has proven that he is incapable of running a Government which is struggling with the delivery of services to the population and the management of funds given to it. His Mining Law has proven ineffective in preventing BCL from exiting without meeting it’s obligation to clean up the mess it left behind.

The only option left now is to make the landowners shareholders of mine, as they cannot be compensated for the loss and damages they have suffered. Court battles that the President is hinting at can take years and there is no guarantee that they will be won and may meet the similar fate to the class action previously lodged in the USA. In addition, it is highly questionable at this point in time who will meet the legal costs of the legal challenge against Rio Tinto.

The Bougainville Peace Agreement deliberately steered clear of the mining issue because it was a very sensitive and emotional issue owing to the fact that it was viewed by many as the root cause of the conflict that led to loss of many lives and properties. ABG’s premature effort to reopen mining in Bougainville when the wounds of the war were still fresh and people are still deeply divided was always going to create problems for ABG and the National Government

. Over the years, ABG has been crying for money which it cannot manage as it was indicated in audit report from Auditor Generals Office. Currently we have complaints from the President about the shares. How can his inappropriate Mining Law protect landowner interests when the law gives ultimate power back to ABG and not the landowners.

A law which carries jail terms and monetary penalties against landowners who disrupt mining operations if the mining company did not respond to their grievances. Is this the sort of law to protect rights of the landowners?

I recommend that the President cede control of Bougainville to someone who has the energy, commitment and vision to move Bougainville forward instead of wasting time trying to kick up a dead horse. I see nothing wrong with building wealth for the landowners who can then contribute meaningfully to Bougainville’s economy instead of them being spectators all the time. Our people are tired of vague idealism by those who live in utopia that has brought no tangible benefits to us but continued exploitation by foreigners.

Hon. Jimmy Miringtoro, OBE MP

 

Bougainville blames PNG’ s PM O’Neill for ‘most serious dispute ever’

PNG ON

“In relation to Bougainville Copper Limited, there has been a great deal of discussion, some very unhelpful, some spiteful claims suggesting the Government was taking over the mine.

After many months of discussion, Rio Tinto has decided that they will gift its shares to the people of Bougainville and the people of Papua New Guinea.

That is the best outcome that we could gain.

With this transfer, the people of Bougainville will own a combined shareholding of 53.8 per cent of BCL.

Mr. Speaker, this Government and this House knows that this is the right thing to do.

This will ensure that for the first time in history of BCL, the landowners will be given a direct say and direct participation in the operation of the BCL mine.”

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill | August 17, 2016  

Extract from Ramumine

The Bougainville Government is furious at statements by Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill that he has transferred his government’s shares from Rio Tinto to the province’s landowners.

The Rio Tinto shares had been controversially gifted to the national government in June by the multi-national, and on Wednesday Mr O’Neill told parliament he was transferring them on to Bougainville.

On Thursday he clarified this to say the shares would go to the landowners and people of Bougainville and that he had no intention of giving them to the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

The shares are in Bougainville Copper Ltd which had run the long closed Panguna mine and the ABG wanted them to give it a controlling interest in the mine.

The ABG President John Momis told Don Wiseman the future of Panguna is the most sensitive issue in Bougainville.

See Full interview Below

Text of PM Speech

Mr Speaker,

I wish to make a statement in respect to my commitment to this honourable house last week that I intended to announces some of the decisions that our Government has taken in respect to the relationship that our Government has with landowners, the provincial governments and the resource development in the country.

These decisions will have a direct bearing on future resource developments that will take place in the country.

The decisions that we have taken are because of the direct interest that the Government has in these particular projects.

Mr Speaker,

Land, and its connection our people is at the heart and soul of our country and our communities.

Our land gives us life and supports livelihoods, it gives us a place for communities to live, and land ownership provides certainty for our children and their children.

But too often in the history of our country – our landowners have been let down.

Our landowners and their communities been made to be bystanders as their ownership has been taken away from them.

This includes both foreign and national companies, and this has been supported by successive Governments.

However, Mr Speaker, our Government has committed itself to empowering our people – and this commitment is embedded in our Alotau Accord when we formed Government in 2012.

We are committed to giving direct participation in resource developments in our country so that our landowners can take ownership, and build capacity in order to sustain their own livelihoods and their communities.

I wish to announce to the House today a series of decisions by our Government that relates to the interests of landowners and the people specifically in Western Province, in the provinces where LNG and oil are being produced, and the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

These decisions are milestones in the history of our country, they will continue to empower and give confidence to many landowners and communities throughout the country.

Ok Tedi

The first of these Mr Speaker, concerns the direct equity in Ok Tedi Mining Limited.

This decision gives Fly River Provincial Government and Mt Fublian Landowners more say in the development of that mine.

The National Executive Council has endorsed the decision of our Government to transfer 33 per cent, one third of Ok Tedi Limited equity, to the people of Western Province – including landowners, affected villages and the Provincial Government.

This is a totally different approach to the past where the people of Western Province only received dividends of up to 6.1 per cent that was held by the State.

Today we are providing direct equity participation for the people of Western Province and the landowners, and this will further allow for participation at the management and the board level.

The people of Western Province to come to their own agreement about the distribution of the shares among themselves between the Provincial Government, the landowners and communities surrounding the mine.

It has been agreed in Cabinet that the shares will be held in trust by the Mineral Resources Development Corporation, through their managing of the mineral resources Ok Tedi and the mineral resources Star Mountain on behalf of the provincial Government and the land owners as well.

Mr Speaker, the value of the resources in Western Province is enormous and the people of that province and communities around the mine must benefit meaningfully from these resources.

When we took over the mine it was worth less than 500 million dollars.

The current assets of Ok Tedi will be valued at over 3 billion US dollars in twelve months time.

I note the former chainman of that mine has made a public advertisement today, but our Government is not going to engage in a war of words and we will allow the courts to make those determinations.

But one thing is very clear, after all of these years of operating this mine, under BHP and under PNG Sustainable, it is evident that our people and our provincial governments have received limited benefits and for that reason we are making this decision.

Since taking ownership of the Ok Tedi mine, and through new world class management, we have seen a total turnaround.

Mine equipment has been upgraded, and the way the mine operates has changed, including better management of the environment making sure our communities can be safe, and improve their lives.

Because of the management, re-tooling and enhanced production processes, the mine’s efficiency has improved making it more profitable, and able to operate in a low commodity price environment.

The the commodity prices improve that will make the mine even more profitable in the long term.

Mr Speaker,

In broader terms, these arrangements will see that the people of Western Province will have total assets, including the stake that they have in PNG Sustainable fund, valued at well over 2.4 billion US dollars.

Making them one of the richest provinces in the country.

I am hoping that through the landowners and the Provincial Government, that they will continue to manage these funds well for the benefit of future generations in the coming years.

We are aware of the issues that we have with PNG Sustainable, our Government will continue to fight for the rights of the people of Western Province.

Again I stress clearly, that our Government has no intention of taking over that particular fund for the people of Papua New Guinea.

That fund belongs to the people of Western Province.

They must have their say and they must take ownership of that fund and manage it themselves.

They must continue to do that and this is why we are in the court in Singapore, and I will allow the courts to make their decision.

But so far we have won every argument that has been presented to the High Court of Singapore, and we are confident that we will have a better outcome for the people of Western Province.

We are making these decisions giving close to 5 billion Kina back to the people of Western Province and this is a commendable decision that our Government has made for our people.

LNG Producing Provinces

Mr Speaker,

In terms of the LNG and oil producing provinces, they are an important part of our economy.

This is now the Government trying to implement the decisions that the previous Government has taken including the distribution of equity and the benefits that are due to the people of Hela, Southern Highlands, Gulf, Central and Western Provinces.

As I said in Parliament last week, since the production of oil began in our country, our landowners and our provinces have received close to one billion Kina in benefits, but as you look into these provinces there is nothing to show for it.

We must have better management of these funds and we intend to work closely with the landowners and the Provincial Governments in ensuring that the every MOA that we have signed, every IDG grant that we have promised, every business development grant that we have promised, and all the commitments under the LBSA and the UBSA, we intend to honour.

These are done by various Governments since oil production began in the early 1980s, but we intend to honour every commitment that has been made.

Since the sale of the gas, we have now 135 million Kina in the central bank in royalties, 130 million Kina in development levies, and 200 million Kina in equity for these five provinces.

These funds are placed in trust accounts with the Bank of Papua New Guinea.

Mr Speaker,

To dispel false information, that has been circulated by people with a political agenda and their own interests, I have yesterday directed our officials to travel up to the landowners and show them the bank statements with the actual bank balances in the accounts.

They will have no doubt whatsoever that their money is safe and in trust for their use.

The State has not mortgaged those funds, they are available and waiting for the clan vetting exercise to progress, and once that is done I have directed the Minister for Petroleum and Energy, and his department, to within 30 days after this Parliament rises, they must complete their clan vetting exercise.

After 30 days we will start distributing these funds that are rightfully due to the landowners, and rightfully due to the provincial Governments, and all the stakeholders that we have committed to.

The equity represents almost 2 percent of the project, which is free carry, and through the Umbrella Benefit Sharing Agreement which was signed in Kokopo in 2009, the Government at that time decided that we will give a further 4.27 per cent in Kroton, now Kumul Petroleum, as indirect equity in the PNG LNG project.

Under this agreement, the landowners and Provincial Government were to pay the State close to 1.1 billion US Dollars for 4.27% equity in PNG LNG.

The Hela Provincial Government took charge of raising those funds, but we are unable to conclude as the landowners continue to face challenges in arranging finance to fund the acquisition.

Govern current market conditions, where the oil price has collapsed from US$110 per barrel down to US$27, it is quite impossible for the landowners and Provincial Government to raise that money.

That is why NEC has approved that it will extend the time, that expired on the 30th of June, to be extended to 31st December 2016, so they can have the opportunity to raise more funds over the next few months.

Mr. Speaker,

We also decided that we would renegotiate the pricing given that the price of oil has dropped, so that it becomes affordable so that they are able to go and raise that money at a new discounted price.

This is only fair that they are given the opportunity to raise money to pay the Government for these shares that they are to receive.

Our officials, the landowners and the officials of the provincial government will work through it in due course I will inform Parliament when those agreements are put in place.

Bougainville Copper Limited

Mr Speaker,

In relation to Bougainville Copper Limited, there has been a great deal of discussion, some very unhelpful, some spiteful claims suggesting the Government was taking over the mine.

After many months of discussion, Rio Tinto has decided that they will gift its shares to the people of Bougainville and the people of Papua New Guinea.

That is the best outcome that we could gain.

This Government has shown a greater commitment to Bougainville that any other Government.

I want to tell the people of Bougainville that this position has not changed, and the Government will continue to work with the ABG, and the people of Bougainville, to achieve the best outcomes for them.

This includes the continued roll-out of services.

We continue to work to restore basic services, build more roads and other infrastructure and to work day and night with our friends in the ABG to advance the peace process.

The people of Bougainville have been through too much pain over the past thirty years, and should not face further frustration and confusion because of politics.

So today, I wish to make an announcement that should put to rest the rumours and misleading information.

This is an historical announcement that will affect every man, woman and child in Bougainville.

Rio Tinto decided to transfer, of its own accord, its 53.8 per cent controlling interest in BCL to ABG and the State.

Rio Tinto has transferred 17.4 per cent to the National Government, and the remaining 36.4 per cent to the ABG without costs.

These shares have now been transferred to the Government of Papua New Guinea, to our trustee under the Kumul Mineral Holdings Limited.

This was aimed by Rio Tinto to give an equal shareholding between the National Government and the ABG.

The National Government already has a 19 per cent direct interest in BCL, so with the 17.4 per cent it was intended to take this to 36.4 per cent, and the transfer of 36.4 per cent direct to ABG was meant to balance the ownership of that mine so that we can continue to work together.

The National Government wants to ensure that we make the right decision for the people of Bougainville.

We are aware of the pain and torment that the people of Bougainville have gone through, and the importance of land.

They felt very strongly that they were disempowered and they did not have participation in the mine itself.

Our Government is concerned about the health, wellbeing and prosperity of the people of Bougainville.

Today, Mr Speaker, we are announcing to this House that the Government of Papua New Guinea will transfer this 17.4 per cent, to the landowners and the people of Bougainville.

With this transfer, the people of Bougainville will own a combined shareholding of 53.8 per cent of BCL.

Mr. Speaker, this Government and this House knows that this is the right thing to do.

This will ensure that for the first time in history of BCL, the landowners will be given a direct say and direct participation in the operation of the BCL mine.

This will help to alleviate some of legacy issues of the past.

This ownership will also give landowners and the people direct control over environmental issues of any future mine development that will take place.

By transferring these BCL shares to the people we are further strengthening the confidence of Bouigainvilleans in the peace process.

We are serious about empowering communities on Bougainville, and we will continue to discuss how they want these shares transferred to them.

These funds must be utilised according to the wishes of the people of Bougainville for their community benefit.

Conclusion

Mr Speaker,

In conclusion, the landowner issues that I have raised in relation to Ok Tedi, the PNG LNG project and BCL are very important for our nation.

They are important for our people, many of them are villagers who have nothing else but the land under their feet.

These are historical policy interventions by our Government.

Landowners will no longer be bystanders to activities taking place on their own land.

Their land is their heritage, their land is their livelihood and it is their future.

We must restore hope to our landowners who have been disadvantaged for many years.

Our landowners must be able to participate meaningfully, and benefit meaningfully.

They must have a say on how this land is developed and the activities that take place.

These issues I have raised today are not the end of the story.

Before this Parliament concludes, this Government will bring additional policy and legislative changes in the minerals, and oil and gas, and other resources sectors before the House.

These changes will continue to empower our people, enabling them to participate meaningfully in their resources development.

This is the commitment made in 2012 and we intend to fulfil that before we go to the polls next year.

Thank you Mr Speaker.

Interview With John Momis

The Bougainville Government is furious at statements by Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill that he has transferred his government’s shares from Rio Tinto to the province’s landowners.

The Rio Tinto shares had been controversially gifted to the national government in June by the multi-national, and on Wednesday Mr O’Neill told parliament he was transferring them on to Bougainville.

On Thursday he clarified this to say the shares would go to the landowners and people of Bougainville and that he had no intention of giving them to the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

The shares are in Bougainville Copper Ltd which had run the long closed Panguna mine and the ABG wanted them to give it a controlling interest in the mine.

The ABG President John Momis told Don Wiseman the future of Panguna is the most sensitive issue in Bougainville.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill (left) and the Bougainville President, John Momis (right)

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill (left) and the Bougainville President, John Momis (right) Photo: AFP/RNZI