Bougainville NEWS : Attacks over mining moratorium : ” nonsense and lies ” says Momis

momis 15 

” I have made those facts clear in several statements, including one to the ABG parliament on 4th April on Rio Tinto’s responsibility to carry out a full clean-up should it decide to withdraw from BCL. Is Mr.Kauona deaf? How on earth can he say I am only concerned to protect BCL and Rio Tinto? What nonsense and lies!

“There is no conspiracy between the ABG, Rio Tinto, BCL and Australia. Mr. Kauona and his few supporters, like Mathias Salas, must stop signing the nonsense and lies his Australian/Canadian partner, Mr. Lindsay Semple, writes for them. Whenever Semple and Kauona don’t get the access to minerals that they want, they make false claims about a conspiracy – nonsense and lies! Their statements are nothing more than desperate attempts to build support for their own economic interests by creating fears about BCL. It’s shameful.”

Bougainville President, Chief John Momis Pictured above

He was responding to statements made by former BRA leader, Sam Kauona and some of his supporters. They include claims that the President is controlling the process to lift the moratorium, and is doing that solely for the benefit of Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) and its majority shareholder, Rio Tinto, in order to prevent Bougainvilleans benefiting from mining.

Read petition letter here Kauona-Semple-Petition Letter Scan – April 2016

The claims are made in a ‘petition letter’ sent to the BCL chairman, in a letter to the President from a few Bougainville Ex-combatants from Arawa, and in a paid advertisement in a PNG daily newspaper on 14 April 2016.

The National 14 April 2016_Page_1

The moratorium was imposed in 1971 at the request of Bougainville leaders aiming to protect Bougainville from unlimited large mines. They were concerned that unlimited exploration licences could have seen many mines established all over Bougainville.

The moratorium was continued under the two mining laws passed by the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) – a ‘transitional’ Mining Act in 2014, and the Bougainville Mining Act in March 2015. The 2015 Act allows the ABG Cabinet to lift the moratorium, wholly or partially. Before it makes a decision, Cabinet must receive advice from the Bougainville Mining Advisory Council, and allow a debate in the ABG parliament on its proposed decision.

The President said:

“I have no power to lift the moratorium. Cabinet has not even developed a position on the issue. So far the only thing we have done is opened public debate on whether the moratorium should be maintained, or lifted. Because we have no funds to conduct a public awareness and consultation, we have instead asked the Parliament to debate the issues involved. Then the Cabinet can take account of the views expressed when it does make a decision.

“In the parliamentary debate on 5th April, I recommended lifting the moratorium partially. That gives the new Bougainville Mining Department time to build capacity to manage the new system for exploration licence applications. The Mining Department has not yet developed administrative arrangements needed for international tender of licences, and for a new system of community mining licences for small-scale miners. If exploration licences for large-scale mining were available for the whole of Bougainville, we could not implement those important aspects of the Mining Act.

“My recommendation debate did not decide the matter. Others contributed to the debate, which was then adjourned to the next sitting of the parliament. Members can now consult their constituents. The debate will continue when the parliament meets again, in May or June. This encourages wider public debate in Bougainville on this sensitive and important issue.

“I have to ask why Mr. Kauona is afraid of public debate about the lifting of the moratorium.

“I will continue to recommend partial lifting. I want to see exploration licences (for possible open-cut or underground mines) limited to just one or two areas, initially. That limit could be reviewed after international tender and community mining licence arrangements are in place.

“At the same time, if possible, I’d like to see a wider lifting of the moratorium now – for reconnaissance licences and artisanal licences (under our Act restricted to Bougainvilleans, for areas up to five hectares, but not involving open cut or underground mining). This approach would allow most Bougainville mining interests access to minerals. It would see continued protection against establishing many open cut and underground mines. That was the original aim of the moratorium. It continues to be an important aim.

“Mr. Kauona’s claim that my recommendation is intended to look after BCL and Rio is nonsense. Mr. Kauona knows it. BCL was not covered by the 1971 moratorium. At the request of the Panguna landowners, that continued under our law. But BCL got only a ‘first right of refusal’ to negotiate about Panguna, under an exploration licence over its former Special Mining Lease. Like any other exploration licence holder, BCL has no guarantee of getting a mining licence, because landowners have a right to say ‘no’ to grant of all such licences.

“But the Act also abolished all of BCL’s exploration licences adjacent to Panguna. BCL and, the mining giant Rio Tinto certainly don’t see the Mining Act as looking after them. In fact, the loss of their previous licences saw Rio Tinto launch its ongoing review of its investment in BCL. It now looks very likely that Rio Tinto will withdraw from BCL, and that there is little likelihood of BCL reopening the Panguna mine.

I have made those facts clear in several statements, including one to the ABG parliament on 4th April on Rio Tinto’s responsibility to carry out a full clean-up should it decide to withdraw from BCL. Is Mr.Kauona deaf? How on earth can he say I am only concerned to protect BCL and Rio Tinto? What nonsense and lies!

“There is no conspiracy between the ABG, Rio Tinto, BCL and Australia. Mr. Kauona and his few supporters, like Mathias Salas, must stop signing the nonsense and lies his Australian/Canadian partner, Mr. Lindsay Semple, writes for them. Whenever Semple and Kauona don’t get the access to minerals that they want, they make false claims about a conspiracy – nonsense and lies! Their statements are nothing more than desperate attempts to build support for their own economic interests by creating fears about BCL. It’s shameful.”

Chief John L. Momis President Autonomous Region of Bougainville

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