Bougainville 2015 elections : United Nations kicks off training and media support

cq5dam_web_699_470“These elections are of fundamental importance to Bougainville. OBEC welcomes the UN´s support in these key components of a democratic election.”

OBEC´s acting Commissioner, George Manu

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is starting a comprehensive training programme focusing on election Scrutineers, Returning Officers, and Media in Bougainville.

The polling period will fall between May 11 and May 25. Counting will commence immediately after the polling period from May 26 to June 7 and the writs will be returned the next day, June 8, 2015

The trainings are part of UNDP´s effort to enhance the understanding of the 2015 Bougainville general elections process, due to start from 11 May. UNDP will also be supporting the coordination of election observation groups, providing training support to women candidates, and facilitating a post-elections lessons-learnt exercise.

The scrutineer training is expected to reach as many as 720 people and aims to provide scrutineers with an overview of the electoral process and their role in it so that any complaints raised during polling and counting are based on an understanding of those processes.

UNDP will also facilitate small group and one-on-one training discussions with Bougainville’s 19 Returning Officers, focusing on the Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commission´s (OBEC) process for handling complaints during the polling and counting periods. The training aims to ensure that complaints about elections are resolved in a consistent, transparent, and timely manner.

The media training will target local media houses. The main objective of the training is to equip journalists with the basic knowledge and professional skills that will enable them to cover election processes in a fair, balanced, and non-partisan way and through them enable citizens to become well-informed and active participants in the political decision processes.

“Election stakeholders, such as Scrutineers, Returning Officers, and Media, are a key component of the wider election process. By ensuring their understanding of their role and the electoral procedures, we are promoting credible elections,” said Ray Kennedy, UNDP´s electoral support team leader.

OBEC´s acting Commissioner, George Manu, stated that “These elections are of fundamental importance to Bougainville. OBEC welcomes the UN´s support in these key components of a democratic election.”

Roy Trivedy, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative, said that “The UN is working closely with OBEC. This training will assist to ensure free and transparent elections.”

UNDP has tailored its election support following a request of the Government of PNG and the Autonomous Bougainville Government for a UN electoral assistance project to strengthen local capacity in the lead up to the 2015 elections.

For further requests, please contact: bougainville.elections.2015@undp.org

Media accreditation to start for 2015 general elections in Bougainville

28 Apr 2015The Office of the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner (OBEC) has today announced the start of a media accreditation process for the coverage of the 2015 elections.The accreditation process will start on 27 April and will continue through the elections to allow the media easier access to election officials, locations, and information.OBEC invites all interested media houses to request further details on the accreditation process from the election commission´s Media Relations unit.

Together with their accreditation badge, journalists will receive an election handbook containing useful information on the election process.

According to OBEC´s Acting Commissioner, George Manu, “OBEC, with the support of the United Nations Development Programme, has developed a simple media accreditation process that will enable journalists to gain access to relevant electoral events”.

“This new process of media accreditation is one further step to pave the way for credible and transparent elections, according to international election standards”, Manu added.

OBEC is the entity responsible for the administration and conduct of the Bougainville 2015 general elections, to be held from 11 May.
UNDP is providing support to the OBEC’s media accreditation process as part of its wider work on supporting the Autonomous Bougainville Government in upholding general elections scheduled to take place in May-June 2015.
Specific assistance will be provided to the areas including: the development of step-by-step prioritized electoral support plan; provision of technical guidance on implementing the support plan; coordinating the deployment of international observers; training of election scrutineers; developing training materials and providing hands-on training for female candidates and more. Project is implemented by UNDP in partnership with its sister agencies and will run from March to July 2015.

Bougainville Mining News: BCL chairman addresses AGM (Download full transcript)

panguna

“Let me assure you that the vision to return to active exploration and profitable, sustainable mining remains, with the active support of many local stakeholders.

The Board and Management of Bougainville Copper Ltd are well positioned to recognise the opportunities inherent in recent challenges, and to maintain progress in a new year.

I believe the economic self-sufficiency of Bougainville needs the successful development of Panguna “

The following is a transcript of the address given by BCL Chairman Peter Taylor to the Annual General Meeting in Port Moresby on Wednesday 29 April 2015. A PDF of the transcript can be downloaded here.

The Annual General Meeting gives me an opportunity, as chairman, to make a statement concerning the up-to-date affairs of the company. Copies of this statement will be distributed as you leave today, and with your permission, I would now like to present it.

Mining Legislation

The most significant event to impact the company in 2014 was the passing of new mining legislation by the Autonomous Bougainville Government, which creates uncertainty regarding Bougainville Copper’s rights to mining and exploration licences. The Bougainville Mining Act 2015 was passed on April 1, substantially mirrors the clauses of the Interim Mining Act, which has reclassed the existing Special Mining Lease as an Exploration Licence. There remains uncertainty over the seven (7) leases for mining purposes.

The Company made applications for new licenses and to affirm rights which appear to have been impacted by the interim ABG mining legislation. These applications have been declined. The final Bougainville Mining Act 2015 prevents the Mining Registrar from accepting or registering applications for tenements before October 1, 2015.

The company is taking some comfort from correspondence and continued dialogue with the ABG and President Momis where he acknowledges that the company is a holder of a Special Mining Lease prior to the Act coming into force. The Act substitutes the Special Mining Lease (SML) with an Exploration Licence. The Company will seek formal granting of the exploration licence and exclusive access to the SML area.

Given the potential impact of the new legislation, the Board has decided to take a full impairment of the value of the mine assets, and to restrict the flow of funds into some of BCL’s work programs. The impairment dramatically decreased the value of the company fixed assets and has resulted in a corresponding impairment expense in the Statement of Comprehensive Income. I will discuss the impact of the impairment shortly when I summarise the 2014 results.

Company representatives continue to engage with the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government seeking clarification of the company’s rights, and at the same time to explore legal options, as well as taking steps to protect BCL’s priority position should re-commencement of mining at Panguna be viable and approved.

The company’s major shareholder Rio Tinto announced in August 2014 “in light of recent developments in Papua New Guinea, including the new mining legislation passed earlier this month by the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Rio Tinto has decided now is an appropriate time to review all options for its 53.83 per cent stake in Bougainville Copper Ltd”

The review is ongoing.

President John Momis has emphasised that the new mining legislation was needed to address unregulated mining activity on Bougainville, and was not aimed at discouraging BCL. President Momis has supported redevelopment of the Panguna mine, subject to community support.

Given the uncertainty the company has minimised its Bougainville work programs.

Financial Results

The results for the year ended December 31, 2014 as reported in the Annual Report, record an operating loss of K9.1 million and an impairment charge of K166.6 million which equates to an overall loss of K175.7 million. This compares with the profit of K6.8 million in the previous year. The impairment charge reflects the diminishing rights of the company to the mine assets and resources with the directors acting prudently in impairing the mining assets completely. We continue to seek advice regarding all our options.

The value of the mining assets in 2013 was K197.9 million and after the asset revaluation reserve of K31.3 was reversed the net impact of the impairment recorded in the statement of comprehensive income was 166.6 million.

Revenue from Interest and Dividends (K4.9m) was slightly lower than budget (K5.1m).

Operational expenditure overall (K14.1m) was lower than budget (K15.9), reflecting the scaling back of work programs.

The company will not pay a dividend.

The company has sufficient funds to cover its recurrent expenditure under the current three year plan and is debt free.

Taxation

I am pleased to report to the shareholders that the company has negotiated a settlement with the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Commission (IRC) in PNG. A scheduled second mediation occurred on 2nd April 2015. I am able to report the court has confirmed the company will receive back K39.7 million from the funds held on term deposit with the Registrar of the High Court. This concludes this long outstanding matter.

There was a total of K70.6 million reported in the 2014 Financial Statements as receivable. The IRC was paid K13.0 million in addition to K4.4 million of interest withholding tax. K14.0 million was agreed to be paid to the IRC in settlement from the K53.2 million, held on IBD for the national court, which leaves the Company with around K40 million.

Financial Assets and Investment strategy

At the end of 2014 Bougainville Copper’s liquid assets were K4.7 million in cash and K102 million in Australian equities. The company’ financial position is linked to the performance of the Australian equities market, which is in a positive phase.

In 2014 Bougainville Copper’s Australian Equities Portfolio, performed broadly in line with the Australian Stock Market.

It is intended to continue with the current investment strategy, for as long as the investment committee deems this to be the best option, or until such time as equities need to be sold to fund further work programs.

The company’s cash position is enhanced as a result of the conclusion of the taxation dispute.

Governance

Bougainville Copper has governance reporting obligations to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). A statement on the company’s compliance with the ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations is contained within the annual report. In addition, the company has adopted policies that seek to comply with Rio Tinto’s comprehensive range of policies including safety, environment, financial management and other governance practices. The company has chosen to early adopt the latest edition of the ASX principles, for the 2014 Financial Statements, one year before the mandatory adoption date.

Safety and Risk Management

Bougainville Copper is particularly safety conscious and has in place a comprehensive set of safety standards to ensure that it provides a safe working environment and that its employees and contractors comply with best practice safety procedures. The company complies with the requirements of the Rio Tinto safety policy.

The management of Bougainville Copper undertakes regular risk reviews.

Bougainville Copper Foundation

Bougainville Copper has continued to support the work of the Bougainville Copper Foundation. This is an independent, not-for-profit company that has been funded by Bougainville Copper since its inception.

In 2014, as in previous years, the Foundation had more than 100 Bougainville students on scholarships. Many are continuing to be supported in 2015.

The Foundation also undertakes special project on a needs basis with the emphasis placed on education, peace and good governance.

The Foundation is proud of its achievements and those of its former scholars who are contributing to the development of Bougainville.

The Foundation continues to review its objectives and future direction. As mentioned, the Foundation is an independent body, and it is hoped that its range of activities will not be materially reduced by the factors that are now constraining some of BCL’s social and work programs.

I will now report on some other current events which have a bearing on the company’s prospects and its progress towards the vision of reopening the mine.

Work Programs

In view of recent actions of the Bougainville legislature, funding to progress all studies and welfare programs will be limited until uncertainties of tenure and the legislative regime are clarified.

During the period, limited work continued to refine the 2013 Order of Magnitude Study, which is an exercise aimed at giving the company guidance as to the most appropriate and cost effective way to re-develop the Panguna resource. It is one of the Board’s major tools in evaluating options going forward.

The Order of Magnitude Study is based on many assumptions including commodity prices, market demand, investor risk, opportunity costs, security of tenure and others. In brief it describes a new mine at Panguna processing between 60 million and 90 million tonnes of ore per annum, over a mine life of 24 years, with an estimated capital cost of 5.2 billion US dollars, as estimated in 2013.Further, more detailed studies, such as a pre-feasibility study and a feasibility study are required to confidently determine the potential economic viability of re-opening the mine. Only upon completion of those studies will the Board be sufficiently informed to take a decision whether or not to proceed with financing and commencement of construction.

The time-line to first production could be between five and seven years from the date of approval and financing.

Many of the assumptions, including the size of the resource, the life of the mine, and the start-up cost, may vary significantly when the company gains access to the former mine site and undertakes further work.

Several other studies were initiated by the company, in conjunction with the Bougainville Administration, aimed at providing a clearer picture of the environmental conditions, the needs of the population, training and employment readiness, as well as land ownership and social mapping. However the company is not in a position to commit to funding these studies until tenure is assured.

Bel Kol

Representatives of the customary landowners from the mine lease areas have requested that Bougainville Copper perform a cultural ceremony with them, Bel Kol.

The ceremony is aimed at restoring relationships between Bougainville Copper, landowners, the Autonomous Bougainville Government, ex-combatants and community leaders.

Significant progress was made towards Bel Kol by the end of 2014. A senior Bougainville Copper manager began regular travel and participated in discussions in Central Bougainville.

Bel Kol is now postponed until after the Bougainville elections. As a gesture of goodwill, the company will make commitments to support programs focused towards health and education initiatives.

The company has asked for open access to Panguna and the area covered by the original Special Mining Lease, assurances of safety, and an invitation to establish a presence in Arawa, as a base for field work, baseline studies and social mapping previously mentioned, and for the recruitment of local people to participate in drilling and other evaluation and de-risking programs

A training program has been jointly designed, to be supported by the company, to prepare members of the lost generation for work opportunities.

Joint Panguna Negotiations

The Joint Panguna Negotiation Coordination Committee (JPNCC) consisting of National Government and ABG representatives, together with landowner and company delegates, was active in 2014 in defining several baseline studies and preparing to implement them.

The JPNCC has established a Multi Trust Fund, to manage joint monies including aid, and to conduct the process of tendering and awarding the baseline studies, in order to vest the findings of studies with arms-length transparency, and credibility with all parties. The Trust Fund formally came into effect in November 2014.

Senior PNG statesman Sir Peter Barter accepted chairmanship of the Multi Trust Fund, and as a respected Bougainville peace-maker, reminded the people of his long held view that there can be no meaningful autonomy without a viable economy.

Throughout the year, company management maintained its own fruitful dialogue with a wide range of Bougainvillean interest groups, through regular meetings at Buka, Arawa and Kieta, with landowners, ex-combatants, women’s groups, ABG agencies, aid donors and other stakeholders.

Events on Bougainville

There have been a number of developments in Bougainville, including Prime Minister Peter O’Neill who visited Bougainville and Panguna in January 2014, and visited again in December 2014 to re-open the Aropa airport.

Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop visited the region.

Preparations for elections to the Parliament of the Autonomous Bougainville Region are gathering pace, polling scheduled for May 2015, with results known during June.

President John Momis is one of nine candidates seeking election.

There has been a re-structure of the Bougainville Public Service administration.

The relationship between President Momis, his government, and the Board and management of Bougainville Copper remains cordial.

The regulatory regime and the company’s position

The practical effect of the permanent mining legislation requires further clarification so that the long term mining regime for Bougainville is settled, allowing the company to factor these terms into its assessment of the viability of the potential mine redevelopment.

The next phase of study, a pre-feasibility study on reopening the mine, will be very expensive, and requires certainty of a workable mining regime and conditions prior to committing the study funds.

I wish to restate that even if further studies confirm that recommencement of mining is economically attractive, mining at Panguna cannot recommence unless all parties: the Landowners, the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the National Government of PNG, and BCL, are acting in close accord, now and into the future.

Funding and sovereign risk assurance for the project will require a united effort. Investors also need a fair and stable regulatory regime that gives them the confidence to commit to a project that will require billions of dollars of investment.

Conclusion

Let me assure you that the vision to return to active exploration and profitable, sustainable mining remains, with the active support of many local stakeholders.

The Board and Management of Bougainville Copper Ltd are well positioned to recognise the opportunities inherent in recent challenges, and to maintain progress in a new year.

I believe the economic self-sufficiency of Bougainville needs the successful development of Panguna.

The company faces the coming year with resolve and determination.

For your further information, I remind you that reports and commentaries of the company’s activities are regularly reported to the Australian Securities Exchange and associated media, and can also be accessed on our website.

Bougainville Mining News: Bougainville mine now in play, government says

PNG PM

Secret dealings of this kind are completely unacceptable to the people of Bougainville, It would be unacceptable to the people of Bougainville for the national government to try to take control of Panguna. Such a move, would trigger demands for immediate independence “

“We cannot allow a new form of colonial dealings in Bougainville’s resources to occur.”

Bougainville President John Momis

The Bougainville Autonomous Government is convinced Bougainville Copper — which owns a mine containing copper and gold worth more than $50 billion, as well as a recently ­reconfirmed exploration licence — is now in play.

As reported in todays Australian Newspaper  By: Rowan Callick Asia Pacific Editor

Bougainville President John Momis last week called on Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Rio Tinto to reveal any dealings over Rio’s 53.58 per cent shares in BCL.

“For over a year now, Mr O’Neill has expressed interest in the national government taking control of BCL,” Mr Momis said.

“He proposes that PNG operate the Panguna mine in Bougainville in the same way it operates the Ok Tedi mine,” which Mr O’Neill’s government took over in 2013.

The PNG government has hired Peter Graham, who led ExxonMobil’s successful construction of the country’s first liquefied natural gas project, to manage Ok Tedi mine and potentially to steer other state-owned mining assets.

The Bougainville mine, which was closed by conflict in 1989 and which would cost an estimated $6.5bn or more to reopen, is also owned 19.06 per cent by the PNG government, and 27.36 per cent by other shareholders.

Mr O’Neill confirmed that “we have had discussions with other shareholders of BCL on a range of issues including the reopening of the mine and the disposal of shares by existing shareholders, including Rio Tinto”.

But, he added, “There are no secret deals, and we are disappointed that President Momis is trying to use this issue at the time of the election” for a new Bougainville government that takes place at the end of next month.

“President Momis has been informed of whatever talks we have with other shareholders of BCL, only because the state is the second biggest shareholder,” Mr O’Neill said.

There would be no talks about reopening the mine, he said, “until landowners and the people of Bougainville are ready”.

It is understood the Momis government’s concern was aroused by information it had received that law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, which does a considerable amount of work for Rio internationally, had instructions to handle the sale of Rio’s shares, and had held discussions with agents in Port Moresby in relation to the deal. A Norton Rose Fulbright spokesman declined to comment when questioned by The Australian.

The BCL share price suddenly soared by 50 per cent a fortnight ago. The ASX issued a “speeding ticket”, asking the company to explain the leap. BCL said it couldn’t.

Mr Momis, whose government has recently passed new mining legislation that hands back control of all resources to landowners, said: “We cannot allow a new form of colonial dealings in Bougainville’s resources to occur.”

He said that last month he wrote to BCL, seeking advice from either it or Rio Tinto, about whether share transactions between Rio and PNG were under discussion or preparation.

“I received a brief reply from Rio, addressed to BCL but passed on to me, dated March 23. The letter simply stated that ‘Rio Tinto … is reviewing its options with respect to its stake in Bougainville Copper Ltd. This review is continuing’,” Mr Momis said.

“Secret dealings of this kind are completely unacceptable to the people of Bougainville,” he said. “It would be unacceptable to the people of Bougainville for the national government to try to take control of Panguna.” Such a move, he said, would trigger demands for immediate independence.

Peter Taylor, who has been chairman of BCL for 12 years, told The Australian “the Bougainville government seems to want the mine reopened, but we have to sit down … and see what’s doable”.

Bougainville Independence News : Chris Siriosi will the referendum be key focus for elections next month ?

 BG

The outgoing Bougainville government has started laying the groundwork for a referendum to be held on possible independence from Papua New Guinea.

That vote has to occur by 2020 at the latest and will be the key focus for the new parliament to be elected next month.

To help meet the conditions laid down in the Bougainville Peace Agreement for the question to be put, the autonomous region’s (former) chief administrator, Chris Siriosi, is heading the Office of the Bougainville Referendum.

He explained the nature of his work to Don Wiseman Radio NZ

CHRIS SIRIOSI:  There are important preconditions for agreeing on the date for the referendum.  Firstly, there needs to be consultation on the issue of the weapons disposal or weapons in Bougainville and also there has to be a determination that the Bougainville government or the Autonomous Bougainville Government has been and is being conducted in accordance with internationally accepted standards for good governance.  So these are the details that are being worked on currently.

DON WISEMAN:  Who makes those assessments in terms of whether there are enough guns removed from the community and whether the level of governance is at the appropriate level?

CS:  These are issues that the two governments will need to consider and agree whether or not the weapons have been removed from the community in adequate numbers and the issue of good governance.  These are issues that the two governments will have to sort out between themselves but the details of enabling the governments to have a clear picture on this is not available so that is what we are working on now.  The ABG assessment is an office of the Bougainville referendum under my leadership as the Chief Executive.  Currently there are seven work streams which have been identified.  Most important of which is the consultations with the people of Bougainville, engagement of the people of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea.  Workstream number two is the weapons disposal assessment.  Workstream number three is the criteria enabling non-resident Bougainvilleans to vote.  Workstream number four is the assessment of good governance or level of good governance.  Workstream number five is the process for determining the question that will be put to the people of Bougainville during the referendum and workstream number six is to establish an independent administrative agency that will conduct the referendum, preferably under UN control.  Workstream number seven is to review the legal provisions that will be the basis for conducting the polling.  Those are basically the outstanding work that is required.

DW:  Clearly what it entails is a lot of work by people under you.  There’s a need for significant amount of capacity isn’t there?  Do you have enough staff, enough support, enough people with skills to be able to undertake that work?

CS:  Well to be honest with you on the ground here we simply don’t have the people that have experience in conducting referendum anywhere in the world and secondly we don’t have the calibre of people that will enable the details to be put together.  We have been fortunate to get support from the New Zealand government who in the last seven months made available an expert who has assisted the ABG and the national government in identifying the major workstreams that are now required to be undertaken.  New Zealander Mike Richardson is an ongoing engagement.  More professional and adequately experienced experts will need to be sourced from outside the country.

DW:  Before you get to that point with the referendum and as you say you have got all this work to do but the region has been trying to get rid of guns for eons hasn’t it?  Clearly it remains a problem so how are you going to get those last weapons or enough of what’s left to satisfy the requirements of Port Moresby?

CS:  That’s the basically a major sticking point.  What we don’t have at the moment is data on where the weapons are and whose possession are the weapons in and why are people holding onto weapons when they should be really doing away with those weapons before we can take measures to remove those weapons by whatever means the two governments agree on in consultation of course with the people of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea.

DW:  I think there is very clearly an expectation from Bougainvilleans that this vote is going to happen in this time frame as laid out by the Peace Agreement but from you’ve just told us, there could actually be a delay if Bougainville can’t satisfy Port Moresby requirements.

CS:  What the people have to understand, including the governments, is that the delay of the conduct of the referendum can only be delayed up until the last half of 2020.  Beyond June 2020 it cannot be delayed, it’s going to be held anyway.  But what we need to let the people of Bougainville understand is that any outcome of any referendum that is conducted without the conditions or those considerations will inevitably affect the final outcome.

Momis: Peace Agreement will be met

This was the statement given by Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) president, Dr John Momis.

Momis made the statement in reference to Bougainville’s referendum that must be held within the 5 year time period from 2015-2020.

The conditions of the BPA are good governance, fiscal self-reliance and weapons disposal.

“We must not fear, we must have faith in each other and ultimately of course we must have faith in God to give us the wisdom and strength to prevail.

“We have now reached a critical juncture on our journey to freedom where we stand at the threshold of a new socio-economic, political and spiritual order,” said Momis.

The president added that this new future means Bougainvilleans will want to be liberated from structural impediments, from institutional impediments and become agents of change and development.

“We know for a fact that the people of Bougainville for a long time have always seen themselves as a people set apart from the rest of PNG.

“Bougainvilleans definitely have a history, we have a history of rejecting outside imposition, a history of being proud of our heritage and a history of self-determination,” said Momis.

He said that elf-determination is not a dirty word for the people of Bougainville.

He said self-determination is the peoples’ claim that they must be the major stakeholders in deciding their fate and to be engaged in socio-economic, political and spiritual liberation.

“It is through unity and believing in one another shall we achieve our ultimate political future,” President Momis remarked.

– See more at: http://www.pngloop.com/2015/03/05/momis-peace-agreement-will-met/#sthash.bYMtzq2k.dpuf

Bougainville Election News : 173,000 enrolled to vote in Bougainville elections

photoElections

By Aloysius Laukai

The Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, GEORGE MANU today announced the completion of the Bougainville Common role in preparation of polling that will commence on May 11th, 2015.

The Commissioner made this announcement in one of his weekly programs on NEW DAWN FM.

He praised the 2015 COMMON ROLL stating that they managed to register additional TWENTY THOUSAND eligible voters in the final roll making the final number registered to ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY THREE THOUSAND VOTERS.

MANU also announced that his office has been busy running trainings for the Electoral officials to make sure they are fully equipped for this election.

The Bougainville Electoral Commissioner also acknowledged the UN Electoral advisors for organizing training for the scrutineers.

And he called on the candidates to make sure they send some of the scrutineers for these free trainings so that they can go back and train their other scrutineers.

He said these free trainings will be organized in each of the three regions of Central, South and North Bougainville.

BALLOT PAPERS ON PRINT

Meanwhile the Bougainville Electoral Commissioner, GEORGE MANU has also announced that Ballot Papers for this elections were printed in AUSTRALIA and will be arriving in Buka next week.

He said as soon as they are in, they will be distributed to the three regional Electoral offices of Arawa, Buin and Buka. MANU said that these regional offices have been established to see the smooth distribution of ballot papers to polling boots.

He said he will make sure there is no shortage of ballot papers at any one polling location this time.MANU said that election materials such as Ballot Boxes will be arriving this week for distribution to the three distributing centres.

He said that all is set for the conducting of the 2015 ABG General elections

SAD DAY FOR THE PEOPLE OF KONNOU

The biggest constituency on Bougainville, KONNOU which is in the East coast of South Bougainville will again miss out in voting as they are not free to cast their votes in the 2015 ABG General elections.

Reports reaching New Dawn FM says that parts of Konnou that is from TABAGO Mission up to the mountain ranges have been banned for any campaign by the Commander of Meekamui in the area, DAMIAN KOIKE.

Despite these set backs the people in these areas have voted in other places other than their area in all the elections that Bougainville held after the conflict.

Reasons for the ban is not known but local chiefs are trying to negotiate with the Commander to allow the election process to be carried in these areas.

Bougainville Election News : No secret deal with Rio Tinto over BCL says PNG PM Prime Minister O’Neill

 

photo236

President Momis has been informed of whatever talks we have with other shareholders of BCL, only because the State is a second biggest shareholder. My statement in Arawa and Panguna remain very relevant today, that there are no mine opening talks until landowners and the people of Bougainville are ready.

President Momis should stop blaming the Papua New Guinea Government for all that is going wrong in Bougainville and accept some responsibility as he has been in charge for many years now.”

Comment from the Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill CMG MP, following the release of a statement by President John Momis of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville relating to Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) shares:

“The Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) has been deeply concerned at the possibility that Rio and PNG might be contemplating trading shares in BCL. The only valuable asset that BCL has is its limited rights over minerals at Panguna. Trading in Bougainville’s minerals between Rio and the Australian colonial Administration occurred in the 1960s, without any reference to Bougainville. We cannot allow a new form of colonial dealings in Bougainville’s resources to occur.”

Full Momis statement here

President John Momis has called for the Prime Minister O’Neill and the global mining giant , Rio Tinto, to reveal any dealings between PNG and Rio Tinto in Rio Tinto’s shares in Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL). Rio Tinto is the majority shareholder in BCL, with 53 per cent equity. In August 2014, Rio Tinto announced a review of its investment in BCL.

“The Government of Papua New Guinea is a shareholder in Bougainville Copper Limited. Mr O’Neil went on to say

“We have had discussions with other shareholders of BCL on a range of issues including the reopening of the Mine and disposal of shares by existing shareholders including Rio Tinto.

“There are no secret deals and we are disappointed that President Momis is trying use this issue at the time of the election that is taking place today.

photo2

My statement in Arawa and Paguna remain very relevant today, that there are no mine opening talks until landowners and the people of Bougainville are ready.

Bougainville Election News: MOMIS: “NO” TO PNG BUYING RIO TINTO SHARES IN BCL

 

panguna

“The Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) has been deeply concerned at the possibility that Rio and PNG might be contemplating trading shares in BCL. The only valuable asset that BCL has is its limited rights over minerals at Panguna. Trading in Bougainville’s minerals between Rio and the Australian colonial Administration occurred in the 1960s, without any reference to Bougainville. We cannot allow a new form of colonial dealings in Bougainville’s resources to occur.”

President John Momis has called for the Prime Minister O’Neill and the global mining giant , Rio Tinto, to reveal any dealings between PNG and Rio Tinto in Rio Tinto’s shares in Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL).

Rio Tinto is the majority shareholder in BCL, with 53 per cent equity. In August 2014, Rio Tinto announced a review of its investment in BCL.

The President said:

“For over a year now, Prime Minister O’Neill has expressed interest in the National Government taking control of BCL. He proposes that PNG operate the Panguna mine in Bougainville in the same way it operates the Ok Tedi mine. The Prime Minister expressed that view to me early in 2014, and to members of the Bougainville group known as the Me’ekamui Government of Unity.

“In 2014 I made two strong statements against the Prime Minister’s proposal, the most recent dated 11 December. In that statement, and in a letter to the Prime Minister of 11 December, I made it clear that all decisions about mining in Bougainville must be made by the Autonomous Bougainville Government. I also spelt out that it would be completely unacceptable to Bougainvilleans for the National Government operate the Panguna mine.

“The Prime Minister replied in a letter dated January, but not received by me till late March. Amongst other things he said the National Government had no intention of taking control of the Panguna Mine.

“But as yet unconfirmed information available to me indicates that the National Government may be planning to purchase the Rio Tinto 53 per cent share in BCL. The National Government has always held 19.3 per cent of the BCL shares, and so if it takes Rio’s shares it would own over 72 of the equity.

“On 20th March, I wrote to BCL, seeking advice from either BCL or Rio Tinto, about the whether such share transactions between Rio and PNG were under discussion or preparation. I received a brief reply from Rio, addressed to BCL but passed on to me, dated 23 March.

The letter simply stated that ‘Rio Tinto … was reviewing its options with respect to its stake in Bougainville Copper Limited. This review is continuing.’

“The Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) has been deeply concerned at the possibility that Rio and PNG might be contemplating trading shares in BCL. The only valuable asset that BCL has is its limited rights over minerals at Panguna. Trading in Bougainville’s minerals between Rio and the Australian colonial Administration occurred in the 1960s, without any reference to Bougainville. We cannot allow a new form of colonial dealings in Bougainville’s resources to occur.

“Secret dealings of this kind are completely unacceptable to the people of Bougainville and so the ABG. It would be equally unacceptable to the people of Bougainville for the National Government to try to take control of Panguna. As I said in my public statement in December: ‘Any attempt by the National Government to control mining in Bougainville could cause Bougainvilleans to lose all faith in the BPA (Bougainville Peace Agreement). Many would refuse to work with the National Government any more. They would want immediate independence. It would be a recipe for undermining, perhaps even destroying, support for the BPA.’

President Momis said that as a result of the gravely serious issues involved, he was now calling on both the Prime Minister and Rio Tinto to clarify the position: ‘They must state publicly and clearly whether or not either of them is planning, or is in any way involved, in preparing for or conducting, any transaction involving transfer of Rio Tinto’s shares in BCL, either to the PNG Government or to any entity controlled by or involving PNG’.

The President also said that as a result of ABG mining laws passed in August 2014 and March 2015, the only legal right BCL has in Bougainville is an exploration licence over the former Special Mining Lease at Panguna. He said:

“That exploration licence is intended to put BCL in the same position as any exploration licence holder that has completed exploration, and wants to apply for an negotiate about possible grant of a mining licence. It gives BCL a right to negotiate the conditions on which it might be allowed to resume mining, but only if it gets permission from both customary landowners and the ABG.

“It is normal for mining laws to allow withdrawal of an exploration licence if there are any commercial dealings in the licence in the first two years after it is granted. In passing the Bougainville Mining Act 2015 in March, the ABG House of Representatives amended section 112 of the Act to make it clear that dealings in more than 25 per cent of the shares in any company holding an exploration licence will also allow withdrawal of the licence.

“Both Rio Tinto and the Prime Minister need to be aware that transfer of Rio’s shares in BCL in the two years since BCL’s exploration licence came into operation, in August 2014, will result in action to withdraw that licence. In the meantime, I call on them to clarify the issues I am raising in this statement”

Chief John. L. Momis

 

Bougainville Mining News: Rumbles from the jungle as Bougainville mine stirs

panguna

 

The big questions hanging over the mine right now include: who will run the Autonomous Bougainville Government after the election due at the end of May? Nine figures are contending the presidency, including several former combatants, with the front runners probably former Catholic priest John Momis, the veteran incumbent, and Sam Akoitai, a former national mining minister.

The next government will have the responsibility of setting the parameters for the referendum on independence that must happen at some time during the five years from this July.

The Panguna mine on Bougainville Island would cost $6.5bn to restart.

Source: The Australian Rowan Callick News Limited

Even the long-suffering Bougainville Copper board, which has witnessed cargo cults, wars, and the closure of its own vast mine, was puzzled when its share price soared 50 per cent a week ago.

For this sudden surge of confidence appeared, oddly, to have been triggered by troubling news for the company — the commencement of a new Mining Act passed by the Bougainville autonomous region’s parliament, which hands back control of all resources to landowners.

The future of the Bougainville mine, which still contains copper and gold worth about $50 billion, is tied up with its complex past, with the long geopolitical shadow cast by the 1989-2001 civil war on the island — and with cargo-­cultist hopes held out by local leaders allied to eccentric foreigners constantly seeking to seize control of the resources from BCL.

The ASX issued a “speeding ticket”, asking the company to explain the April 2 share price leap. BCL replied that it couldn’t.

The price had slid back down to 28c by Friday.

The directors of the company, which is 53.58 per cent owned by Rio Tinto, 19.06 per cent by the Papua New Guinea government, and 27.36 per cent by other shareholders, are trying to juggle an enormous range of unknowns and variables, without even the compensating benefits of having a mine to run.

It has remained closed since May 1989, and would cost upwards of $6.5bn to reopen.

The big questions hanging over the mine right now include: who will run the Autonomous Bougainville Government after the election due at the end of May? Nine figures are contending the presidency, including several former combatants, with the front runners probably former Catholic priest John Momis, the veteran incumbent, and Sam Akoitai, a former national mining minister.

The next government will have the responsibility of setting the parameters for the referendum on independence that must happen at some time during the five years from this July.

What will be the response of the national government led by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill to the new Bougainville mining law? National legislation insists that, as in Australia, such resources are owned by the state.

And Mr O’Neill has hired Peter Graham, who led the remarkably successful construction of the country’s first liquefied natural gas project for ExxonMobil, to manage the Ok Tedi mine, which the Port Moresby government nationalised — and may be eager to deploy his skills to reopening Bougainville too, if Rio chooses to sell to PNG.

What does Rio itself want? At the end of 2014, it announced from London that it was reviewing its BCL stake.

It has not entirely lost its stomach for complex, ever-changing negotiations in developing countries with governments lacking the disciplines of party politics — managing director Sam Walsh only recently flew to Mongolia for talks about the constantly challenging Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine there.

But it could follow BHP-­Billiton, after its Ok Tedi debacle, in placing PNG in the ultimately-too-hard basket.

The key question is what do the landowners want? If they don’t want a mine back, it won’t happen.

Many do favour a reopening, since they see no alternative source of income for their families on the horizon — the agricultural potential for Bougainville is all on the coast, rather than in the mountains.

But they are themselves split into about nine recognisable factions — whereas at the time the mine was set up, during Australian colonial days, they spoke as a unified group.

The legislation does not specifically mention the BCL mine, because it is intended to cover the whole of the highly prospective region, which has since the onset of the civil war attracted growing numbers of carpetbaggers seeking to set up their own private operations — almost always seeking gold — in collaboration with ex-combatants who often retain guns.

Formerly, BCL was granted the only mining licence in Bougainville, which it still holds — but from the PNG government — while the Bougainville government now says its legislation supersedes the national legislation, under the accord agreed at the peace conference that ended the conflict.

The company is not only governed by legislation, but operated the mine under a contract with the PNG government that remains in force.

Peter Taylor, who has been chairman of BCL for 12 years, said that “the Bougainville government seems to want the mine reopened, but we have to sit down around a table and see what’s do­able.”

He said he remained confident that “if there’s a will there to get the mine reopened, we will find a way. But we’re talking a long lead time.’

When the first study about reopening was conducted, the copper and gold prices were lower than today — but that’s not the key issue: “We’re a mining business, not a trading business,” he said.

“It will happen only if the government and the landowners want it to happen.”

President John Momis, who has driven Bougainville’s new Mining Act, said that with it, “we are completely rejecting the terrible past. The Act recognises that all owners of customary land own all minerals in, on and under their land.” And now those who joined the civil war on the side of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army based around the mine site at Panguna, are also entitled, under custom, to share in any proceeds from that land.

Bougainville Women’s News :Public Perceptions of Women in Bougainville Leadership Survey

julie Bishop2

Public Perceptions of Women in Leadership Survey

Autonomous Region of Bougainville

“Women in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville are traditionally endowed with traditional responsibilities and powers,  And when we assess the women in their traditional positions, women have responsibilities and powers that tend to keep them where they are”

Doctor Naomi Tulaha

 Complete survey HERE

The following survey has been developed to gain an idea of the views people in Bougainville have towards women’s participation in decision making and leadership roles particularly at the local level.

The survey is an initiative of the Commonwealth Local Government Forum (CLGF) Pacific as part of a wider programme known as the Funding Leadership and Opportunities for Women (FLOW) Programme. FLOW is a four year multi-country programme funded by the Government of the Netherlands, coordinated in the Pacific by the International Women’s Development Agency (IWDA).
Results of this survey will serve as baseline statistics for the CLGF’s gender in local government program in Bougainville.CLGF would like to acknowledge the Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM) for the use of some of its questions based on the recently published 2014 Public Perceptions of Women in Leadership in Fiji report

DO BOUGAINVILLE WOMEN HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES AND POWER ?
BY JENNIFER NKUI

Women in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville are traditionally endowed with traditional responsibilities and powers, says Doctor Naomi Tulaha.And when we assess the women in their traditional positions, women have responsibilities and powers that tend to keep them where they are.


When giving her speech during the International Women’s Day celebrations at the Kuri Village resort recently, Dr. Tulaha revealed that in the traditional context, it is deemed inappropriate for women to campaign in public but women in Bougainville do not consider themselves as inferior.


She said women in Bougainville were born chiefs and were born with power and as landlords, women in Bougainville have power.


But this power according to Dr. Tulaha is being eroded by the influence of the changes that are coming into the women’s’ lives.
She then pointed out saying are we actually making women more powerful or are we actually moving them backwards?


She stressed that this is something that needs careful discussion in order to bring the women of Bougainville to a different kind of arena so they can play their roles as equal partners in parliament.

Bougainville Tourism News : First Japanese tourists to visit reopened WW2 Yamamoto site

???????????????????????????????

After 10 years of closure, Bougainville’s iconic World War II relic has reopened to tourists.

Story By Ishmael Palipal

The crash site of the Mitsubishi G4M ‘Betty’, which carried the Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, is located at Kokopo village of Makis Constituency in Buin District.

Admiral Yamamoto was one of the Japanese masterminds of Pearl Harbor attack and was gunned down with his war plane on 18 April, 1943 by US forces, causing his plane to crash south Bougainville.

According to the landowners Chairman Mr Raphael Bakiri, before the crisis the Yamamoto crash site was one of the hottest tourism spots in Buin District.

He stated that the place took in many tourists every day and the villagers now want to revive that.

“The place was very restricted because it is on the border of two clans,” Mr Bakiri said.

“This caused a conflict, but after the recent reconciliation they are very happy to make revenue out of it in an equal basis.”

Chairman Raphael Bakiri standing at the side of the Bougainville Experience Tours hire car with Steven Tamiung of Bougainville Experience Tours.
Chairman Raphael Bakiri standing at the side of the Bougainville Experience Tours hire car with Steven Tamiung of Bougainville Experience Tours.

According to Mr Steven Tamiung of Bougainville Experience Tours (BET), the first Japanese tours will visit the Yamamoto site in the month of April. These are Nichibu Research Group who is already booked with BET to do a four day tour and Yamamoto site is their priority site to visit.

BET also stated that more interested requests for the site are coming in. One confirmed for June and July is Japanese Homestay documentary filming group.

Steven Tamiung stated that according to the villagers, Bougainville Experience Tours is the first and the only tourism consultants that the landowners are engaging to bring tourists to the site.

“The landowners are very happy to engage us to help bring in tourist to visit the site,” Mr Tamiung said.

“They have agreed to the price of K150 per head for international tourists to visit the site.”

For more info check out Bougainville Experience Website

Small