Bougainville Mining News : President Bougainville, Dr. John Momis, lashes out “greedy irresponsibility” of Rio Tinto

bouganville_2009

Rio has advised me that it is free to ignore the damage it caused because its subsidiary (BCL) operated Panguna according to the laws of the 1970s and 1980s. It therefore does not regard itself as bound by the much higher corporate responsibility standards of today. Rio also say that BCL was closed by Bougainvilleans opposed to mining.

‘Bougainville rejects those argument. The corporate responsibility standards that Rio accepts today largely result from what it learned from its Bougainville experience.”

President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Dr. John Momis, lashed out today at what he termed the “greedy irresponsibility” of global mining giant, Rio Tinto. He has requested the Speaker of the Bougainville House of Representatives to call a special meeting of the House in Buka next Wednesday, 13th July

He was discussing Rio’s decision of 30 June to end its majority shareholding in its subsidiary, Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL).

He released his letter of 4 July to the International Council of Mining and Metals (ICMM) Chair.

See Attached

Momis to ICMM – 4 July 2016

It complains of Rio’s failure to meet the ICCM’s Sustainable Development principles.

President Momis said:

‘Rio Tinto’s predecessor, Conzinc RioTinto Australia (CRA), made immense profits from operating the Panguna mine – so much so that BCL was often described as the “jewel” in the CRA crown. But in operating the mine, it was Bougainville that bore severe environmental and social costs.

‘Environmental damage includes the massive pit, kilometres wide and hundreds of metres deep, never remediated in any way.

It includes the vast areas filled by billions of tons of mine tailings tipped into the Kawerong and Jaba rivers, now lifeless as a result of acid rock leaching. Fish life in the many rivers and creeks running into the two main dead rivers has also been destroyed.

The tailings filled river valleys. The levy ban built to contain the tailings was breached more than ten years ago. Huge swamps have swallowed forest and farm land. Large dumps of chemicals are yet to be cleaned up.

‘Social impacts include the appalling living conditions of the thousands of people involuntarily resettled by the mine.

‘Rio refuses to accept any responsibility for these and the many other negative impacts that were the costs of its vast profits. In their greedy irresponsibility they now propose to walk away from Panguna without further thought about the damage that they caused.

‘ICMM’s website http://www.icmm.com/our-work/sustainable-development-framework claims that by ICMM membership companies such as Tio Tinto commit to “implement and measure their performance against 10 sustainable development principles”. The ICMM says that it conducts “an annual assessment of member performance against their principles”.

‘ICMM Principle 3 commits Rio to “Uphold fundamental human rights and respect cultures, customs and values in dealing with employees and others who are affected by our activities”.

This committs companies to “minimize involuntary resettlement and compensate fairly for adverse effects on the community where they cannot be avoided.”

BCL paid the derisory compensation levels to relocated villages required in the 1970s and 1980s. But not only is it clear that these levels were far too low then, in addition, the relocated villagers suffering has continued and increased dramatically since the 1980s, with no compensation.

And Rio plans to walk away with no thought as to their future suffering, all caused by a mine these people never wanted.

‘ICMM Principle 6 requires Rio to “rehabilitate land disturbed or occupied by operations in accordance with appropriate post-mining land uses’. No rehabilitation has occurred.

‘ICMM principle 10 requires Rio to ‘provide information [to stakeholders] that is timely, accurate and relevant, and to engage with and respond to stakeholders through open consultation processes. Rio has completely failed in these responsibilities. It has not provided any information to Bougainvillean stakeholders about its review or its plans.

‘Rio has advised me that it is free to ignore the damage it caused because its subsidiary (BCL) operated Panguna according to the laws of the 1970s and 1980s. It therefore does not regard itself as bound by the much higher corporate responsibility standards of today. Rio also say that BCL was closed by Bougainvilleans opposed to mining.

‘Bougainville rejects those argument. The corporate responsibility standards that Rio accepts today largely result from what it learned from its Bougainville experience. The war in Bougainville was not about ending mining – it was a cry for mining on just terms, similar to those that are delivered by good standards of corporate responsibility. To ignore today’s standards is hypocrisy.

‘In a situation of low copper prices and the likely high sovereign risk of Bougainville, it’s unlikely that Panguna will reopen for a long time. In those circumstances, Rio must have responsibilities for rehabilitation and other activities similar to those arising in a mine closure situation.’

The President said he had asked the ICMM Chair, Mr. Andrew Michelmore, to investigate Rio’s failure to meet the mining industry standards set as conditions of ICMM membership. ‘I have asked the ICMM to required Rio Tinto to meet those standards. I have called on the ICMM to expel Rio if it fails to adhere to ICMM principles. Rio Tinto’s behaviour towards Bougainville exhibits greed and irresponsibility which the mining industry must reject.’

John L. Momis

President, ARoB

7 July 2016

6 comments on “Bougainville Mining News : President Bougainville, Dr. John Momis, lashes out “greedy irresponsibility” of Rio Tinto

  1. Peter Quodling posted : The rebellion happened because of incompetent politicians and bureaucrats – back as early as ’81 BCL had agreed in principle to quadruple the land owner royalties – but it had to be formally negotiated and including into the Amendments to the BCA – the NSPG, and GOvPNG, procrastinated, deferring said meetings. Then, Momis tuned up with his Melanesian Alliance Manifesto – not at any formal meeting, but at Dad’s home at around 8 at night. It basicall demands he be given $14M no strings attached to hand out at his discretion to “appease upset parties” – It was pointed out that that was neither the time or place, and as a minister of the government, he should know that, and do things the way the gvoernment agreed (in fact insisted on doing). But, it would appear that he had already made promises to people and rather than going back and saying “it’s taking some time< and we are working on it", he chose to remain silent, and Ona et al, reacted. Ona's reaction was in relation to an independent third party group looking at purported Jaba contamination – while there was increase levels of Silt, BCL was already working to remedy and remediate that, and they had found nothing. (The Concentrator process being a "closed loop" (and any materials were actually heading to Loloho, not the Jaba. ) )

    And as for crimes – while there were some PNGDF Atrocities, there was also a significant amount of Bougainvillean on Bougainvillean atrocities. A friend of mine served on Bel Isi, and the violent med

    • “Ona’s reaction was in relation to an independent third party group looking at purported Jaba contamination – while there was increase levels of Silt, BCL was already working to remedy and remediate that, and they had found nothing.”

      The Jaba didn’t look very healthy last time I saw it and the environmental impact was going to get far worse, according to an engineer I was with. In fact, I was astounded at the estimated river height increase that he described. That was in the early eighties, maybe even late seventies.

  2. Peter Quodling Aaahm yes, hindsight is 2020, and everyone else should be forward thinking. It’s a pity Momis didn’t think of that, when he helped trigger the crisis, almost three decades ago. As a politician he makes a great catholic priest…

    Warwick Brooker

    Warwick Brooker Oh, I thought the rebellion occurred because of the crimes, not the other way around. Of course, that led to atrocities on both sides, particularly when Bougainvilleans were cunningly turned against each other

  3. What do you really expect of Multinational Companies . Greed is Good . Bougainville is one of many Countries wrecked by Greed .No conscience . Norm

    Sent on the go with Vodafone

  4. Peter Quodling is the son of the late Paul Quodling who was the Managing Director of Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) for many years.

    Whilst Father John Momis (now the current President of Bougainvile) was “campaigning for the PNG election in 1987, he famously presented a letter to the then BCL managing director, Paul Quodling, that demanded the company give 3 per cent of its gross income to the Bougainville provincial government.

    The request received wide support on Bougainville, but Paul Quodling said it was impossible to meet, adding to tensions that soon exploded on the ground.”

    Paul Quodling included the 1987 letter from Momis in his book, “Bougainville: The Mine and the People” which was published in 1991 in Appendix C.

    According to a book review by Scholarspace at the University of Hawaii at Manoa,
    “Quodling empathizes with Bougainvillean resentments at the inequalities that arose from the project and summarizes data on the adverse social and environmental impact of mining. He says the mine “with its apparently insatiable appetite for land, had traumatic impact on the resident society, who saw land rights being violated…”

    Quodling also states in his book that “any alienation of custom-owned land for such purposes as open-cut mining completely goes against the indigenous social structure”.

    So obviously the late Paul Quodling knew why the rebellion happened on Bougainville.

  5. And continuing on with Peter Quodling’s ridiculous assumptions…
    The Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF) was given millions of dollars from Australia (the taxpayers) to continue its military war against the people of Bougainville hoping to re-open the Panguna mine on Bougainville.
    Australian helicopters were kitted out with machine guns – strafing villages, terrorising everyone on Bougainville. A military blockade stopping journalists, human rights advocates and humanitarian aid or any outside help because the mining company wanted it that way. “Blanket media silence keeps it off the news”.
    Australia was heavily involved in the war on Bougainville through training, equipping and financing of the PNG Defence Force operations on Bougainville.
    So in reality Peter Quodling with an estimate of 15,000 to 20,000 deaths on Bougainville, one can only assume your father is turning in his grave knowing what Bougainville Copper Limited and Rio Tinto did to the people of Bougainville.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s