Bougainville News : It Takes a Village: One Community’s Journey Toward Peace

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  “In this 360° Virtual Reality film we reach the small community of Konnou, in the far south of Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea, to meet Elsie and Timothy, two people whose lives were forever changed by conflict, and who are now looking forward with hope.

To view 360 videos on your desktop, use Chrome or Firefox. For mobile, open in the YouTube app.”

The Price of Conflict, the Prospect of Peace: Virtual Reality in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea

From World Bank Website

“More than 3 million cocoa trees have already been replanted or rejuvenated across Bougainville and Papua New Guinea

In Oria, Rex was the first cocoa farmer in his community to plant pest-resistant cocoa trees, and now has one of the largest cocoa plantations in the area. Timothoy, along with his nephew and other Wisai farmers, are also helping the Me’ekemui community grow cocoa, extending the PPAP Program to former enemies and in doing so strengthening the peace process through shared knowledge.

Timothy explains: “Once we plant cocoa and we enjoy the benefits of it, and there are plenty of people working in it, there will be no interest in holding onto the guns and things like that – because it’s helping us and them, and making us stronger.”

Men and women of Oria, a small village in southern Bougainville, sit separately during Saturday morning Church service. The number of women far outweighs the number of men in Oria. Violent conflict between combatants from the village - Wilmo Liberation Movement (WILMO) - and the neighbouring Me'ekemui tribe killed 49 men, leaving many women widowed.

 

Men and women of Oria, a small village in southern Bougainville, sit separately during Saturday morning Church service. The number of women far outweighs the number of men in Oria. Violent conflict between combatants from the village – Wilmo Liberation Movement (WILMO) – and the neighbouring Me’ekemui tribe killed 49 men, leaving many women widowed.

© World Bank / Alana Holmberg


The Oria church doesn’t get many outside visitors. Located in a remote area (population 2,000) of southern Bougainville, visitors would have to travel four or five hours from the island’s largest town, Arawa, to get there. The corrugated gravel road is suitable only for four-wheel drives and passengers immune to motion sickness.

But if a visitor were to find themselves at the regular Saturday service, the disproportionate ratio of women compared with men would be unmissable. Of the three sectioned rows of pews, the men and boys fill one row and the women and girls fill the other two.

Konnou’s Widows

The Konnou conflict (2007–2011) claimed the lives of 49 men and boys from the Oria community. Neighboring ethnic groups — the Wisai from Oria and the Me’ekemui from Mogoroi — began a war of payback killings for events that happened in the Bougainville Crisis (1989–1999). Fighters on both sides left behind widows, mothers, and sisters; women who first cried for revenge and reprisals against the enemy, encouraging the violence, then pleaded for peace as more and more of their men were buried.

“A lot of people were against us,” said Joelina Potoura of the Oria women’s attempt to convince Wisai Liberation Movement (WILMO) combatants to start peace negotiations with the Me’ekemui. In their mind, the women weren’t involved in the fighting so shouldn’t have a say.

“But we said, ‘Yes, we don’t carry the guns and fight but we tell our sons and the men in our community to hate and to take up arms’.  We knew that we had influenced the men here to hate our brothers outside, to go and kill when someone is killed from our community.”

“If the mothers didn’t get involved, we’d still be fighting each other,” says Veronica Naisy, the widow of Jacob Naisy who still struggles to talk about her husband’s death, more than a decade ago. Jacob’s murder, a revenge killing by the Me’ekemui for his support of the PNG Government during the Bougainville Crisis, sparked the Konnou Crisis in 2007.

Four years later, following the deaths of some 500 people across the district, a group of widows and mothers, sisters and daughters of slain men from both sides came together in an official reconciliation ceremony. They shared stories, shook hands and hugged.

“We were all relieved and a lot of tears were shed,” remembers Joelina.

 


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Elsie Konuvai (right, pink top), Joelina Potua (far right) and other widowed woman watch the women’s football team train as the sun slips behind the clouds in Oria, Bogainville, Papua New Guinea. The village has a high number of widowers following the Konnou conflict (2007 – 2011) when 49 of the local men died as a result of fighting with a neighbouring group.

© World Bank / Alana Holmberg


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Timothy Koluvai, Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP) Senior Field Officer, tends to his cocoa tree clones in his nursery in Konnou District, Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. Where non-clone trees balance themselves naturally as they grow, cloned seedlings must be pruned regularly as they grow to ensure the branches are balanced around the trunk.

© World Bank / Alana Holmberg


Women Forge a Pathway to Peace

Joelina trained as a peace negotiator during the Bougainville conflict in the 1990s and was passionate about peace for Konnou. After the women’s reconciliation, she turned her attention back to the Wisai combatants and staged a seated protest in the WILMO headquarters, refusing to move until they agreed to discuss peace. Her actions, combined with the voices of many women in both villages, had the desired effect. On November 29, 2011, with the assistance of the United Nations and the Konnou Peace Committee of which Joelina was part of, a ceasefire agreement between WILMO and the Me’ekemui was reached.

Rex Naisy, the only surviving brother of Jacob Naisy, describes the day as very emotional.

“We were so happy because we realized that the day had finally come. Instead of our community members losing lives, we had peace,” he said.

Rex was an ardent promoter of peace in the community in spite of the personal cost he had paid through the conflict. All three of his brothers were killed, targeted because of their education, entrepreneurial skills, and support for the PNG Government through the Bougainville Crisis, according to Rex.

“I was tempted to join combat when my brother was shot,” he admits. “I actually held the weapon but did not join the fighting. I worked hard and stood firm for what I believed in.”

Cocoa Supports Shared Futures

In the 1980s, Bougainville produced the most cocoa of any province in Papua New Guinea. Alongside copra, this was the backbone of a thriving rural economy, and it provided critical income for thousands of people.

The Bougainville conflict crippled the local economy and decimated the cocoa industry. After 1999, the region slowly started to rebuild in terms of cocoa production – though ravaged by pests – but the economic recovery of the Konnou constituency stalled again when plunged into a second conflict. The area was declared a ‘no go zone’ by the warring tribes, roads and services to the communities were blocked off. Authorities largely ignored the situation. After peace returned, the community faced enormous hardship, with few opportunities for work hindering recovery.

“After the Konnou Crisis ended, a lot of us began looking for work,” says 52-year old ex WILMO combatant Timothy Konovai.

“The constant fear of the fighting erupting again made me scared to move away from my family and the village. So I decided to go back to something I was familiar with and that was growing cocoa. I can now say I made the right choice,” he grins.

Supported by the World Bank’s International Fund for Agricultural Development and the European Union, the Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP) engages Bougainville in cocoa; providing farming skills, tools, pest-resistant seedlings, and other resources to get individuals and the industry back on strong, economically viable feet after decades of struggle.

The project will support more than 60,000 cocoa and coffee growers across Papua New Guinea by 2019. More than 3 million cocoa trees have already been replanted or rejuvenated across Bougainville and Papua New Guinea

In Oria, Rex was the first cocoa farmer in his community to plant pest-resistant cocoa trees, and now has one of the largest cocoa plantations in the area. Timothoy, along with his nephew and other Wisai farmers, are also helping the Me’ekemui community grow cocoa, extending the PPAP Program to former enemies and in doing so strengthening the peace process through shared knowledge.

Timothy explains: “Once we plant cocoa and we enjoy the benefits of it, and there are plenty of people working in it, there will be no interest in holding onto the guns and things like that – because it’s helping us and them, and making us stronger.”

“Growing cocoa is helping us take care of our children and paying for their education, we’re realizing that now,” says Joelina. “I’m involved. I got my first 50 clone cocoa trees last year and this year they’re flowering.”

After Saturday mass, the congregation gathers outside to discuss community matters for the week: how to keep the river clean from waste, details for the upcoming peace football friendly match, and a lengthy explanation about the recent outsider visitors to the church, part of the PPAP Program.

While peace is still fragile in Konnou, projects like the PPAP are helping communities make their dreams for the future a reality, bolstered by an increasing international demand for the unique Bougainville cocoa flavor.

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’s Carteret Islands worlds first climate refugees seek home

” At only 1.5 metres above sea level at their highest point, the Carteret Islands are some of the first to succumb to the rising ocean tides.

The grassroots Tulele Peisa group, which means “sailing the waves on our own” in the local Halia language, is hoping to relocate more than half of the population by 2020.

They have secured land for new homes on the main island of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, to the east of mainland Papua New Guinea.”

A grassroots group in Bougainville is scrambling to relocate the Carteret Islanders before rising sea levels swallow their land forever.

By Lauren Beldi for Pacific Beat

Tulele Peisa formed in late 2006 after the Council of Elders on the islands decided to establish their own relocation program.

The group’s chief executive, Ursula Rakova, says the encroaching tides on the islands have a major impact on people’s health.

“We’re beginning to get more requests for people wanting to move because of the situation and the dire need for food,” she says.

“People are not able to eat what they should be eating.”

The storm surges not only wash away houses, but also vegetable gardens, which are critical for the islanders’ survival.

With no cash economy on the Carterets, the only source of food is what people are able to grow for themselves.

Ms Rakova says the relocations are also vital to give more space to those who want to stay on the islands.

“Giving justice to the elderly is the most important thing that Tulele Peisa can do. The elderly people do not want to move,” she says.

The group initially secured 25 hectares of land from the Catholic Church — enough to resettle about 100 people from 10 families.

The church has just made another 60 hectares of land available, where Ms Rakova says they’re hoping to relocate 25 more families.

But the access to safe and secure land is only half the battle.

“Building houses for the families to live in is our biggest hurdle at the moment,” she says.

“We have to keep looking for funds to build homes before we can actually move islanders to mainland Bougainville.”

Once they are resettled on Bougainville, the Carteret families are allotted one hectare each.

In addition to growing their own food, the relocated families also send food and planting materials back home to help supplement what the islanders are able to grow.

Tulele Peisa has also provided thousands of mangrove seedlings to prevent the erosion of the coastline, and helped to build raised garden beds.

But this will only stave off the inevitable for so long.

“Those are adaptation strategies, they aren’t really long-term solutions to containing the islands, because we know the islands are going, but we are looking at supporting our families,” Ms Rakova says.

She says the islanders want to maintain their independent way of living but that the international community should provide more support.

“The islanders on the Carterets are victims of what other people have caused and the international community needs to aid and support the work that we are doing,” she says.

“We have found our way forward [and] we would like to share the way forward with other people, but we need this process to be funded financially so that we can continue to sustain ourselves.”

Credits

  • Reporter: Lauren Beldi
  • Photographs: Tulele Peisa

Bougainville Chocolate Festival- A boost for Bougainville’s Cocoa Industry

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Bougainville’s cocoa industry will be expecting a huge boost following the recent announcement by the ABG Minister for Primary Industries Honorable Nicholas Darku, on the Inaugural Bougainville Chocolate Festival.

The event which is a first of its kind in the autonomous region will be held in Buin and Arawa from the 4th to the 8th of July this year.

Minister Darku says this project aims to encourage good cocoa farming practices, while at the same time, raise awareness of the efforts put in by the ABG and its stakeholders to develop this industry. It will also give Bougainville the chance to showcase its cocoa farmers to the international chocolate community and create opportunities to build better market links.

“The cocoa industry represents the economic sector with the greatest immediate growth potential in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. It can, and will into the near future, provide for sustainable rural employment, generation of government revenue and contribute to household incomes and improved livelihoods”, he said.

One of the highlights of this event will be the Chocolate Competition which involves international judges tasting and providing feedback on chocolate made from Bougainville Cocoa.

“Growers from across Bougainville- twenty from each region, North, Central and South will be invited to submit twenty kilograms of dried cocoa beans, and each sample will be made into chocolate by Paradise Foods.

Chocolate samples will then be distributed to the judges well in advance of the festival to enable a thorough appraisal and judging”, explained Minister Darku.

There will also be agricultural showcases, business stall displays and entertainment during the three day festival. The opening of the Primary Industries Field Station in Buin will also coincide with this event.

This festival is an initiative of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, led by the Department of Primary Industries in partnership with the Australian government.

From 2014

A small New Zealand business is demonstrating how Bougainville can have a future without a return to large-scale mining and the reimposition of colonial-style dependence on foreign powers like Rio Tinto… (Mine Watch)

Source: PNG Mine Watch

The Wellington Chocolate Voyage

A voyage to make a unique artisan chocolate bar and a better tasting world. This is the new chocolate revolution.

Can you imagine the most beautiful tropical paradise on earth?

And the most mouthwatering, delicious chocolate you’ve ever tasted?

We’re going to bring them together and help make a better tasting world. 

We are Gabe Davidson & Rochelle Harrison, co-founders of New Zealand’s Wellington Chocolate Factory, and international development worker Sera Price.

We are Kiwis with mad passions and big hearts. 

We’re going to make a delectable artisan chocolate bar with rare cocoa beans from Bougainville, a South Pacific region devastated by civil war. The bar itself will be a unique taste experience of the highest quality: the voyage of making it will connect us and you with a cocoa-farming legend, a better way of doing business, and a sailboat journey across the mighty Pacific. Plus you can get chocolate!

We see this as part of a new chocolate revolution, and we want you with us on the adventure.

The Wellington Chocolate Voyage will: 

1. Upgrade a South Pacific cocoa plantation– a farming community in Bougainville, led by legendary grower James Rutana, will be able to improve their drying sheds and grow a high-quality crop of unique Criollo varietal cocoa.

2. Buy a tonne of beans– literally. The Wellington Chocolate Factory will purchase 1 tonne of the resulting bean crop at a fair, premium price.

3. Sail the sparkling seas– in the tradition of legendary ocean voyages and historical trade routes, we will transport the beans from Bougainville to Wellington harbour ourselves via sailing ship!

4. Make amazing chocolate – once the beans arrive, we will use our master chocolate-making skills to produce the ‘Bougainville Bar’, a highest quality artisan treat with a unique flavour.

The Wellington Chocolate Voyage combines everything we’re passionate about: making great food, supporting ethical development and trade, connecting with people across the globe, and going on an adventure. We see this as part of the new revolution in artisan food, where mega-industrialised production takes a back seat to skill, care, and people.

By backing us you will be part of:

Supporting Bougainville and a local legend– recovering from a 10 year civil war, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea is trying to develop its own economy and future. James Rutana helped build Bougainville’s cocoa industry only to see it get destroyed by war and neglect. He is committed to rebuilding and we want to help him.

Making truly great food– the Wellington Chocolate Factory are a values driven company who make highest quality bean-to-bar chocolate. You’ll be invited into our world and get to share the inside story of creating the Bougainville Bar. Then you’ll get your very own bar to try or share or hoard!

Nurturing unique cocoa varieties–  rare and unique cocoa varieties are being lost to the dominance of lower value industrial strains. We’re encouraging farmers to grow higher quality crops and earn a premium price for their effort.

Doing it by sailboat!– Sailboats are fun and romantic in all the right ways, and there is a proud tradition of great Pacific sea voyages throughout history. Imagine being in Wellington Harbour as the first sail-driven shipment of cocoa beans in over fifty years arrives. If you’re super-keen, imagine coming on the boat with us!

Wouldn’t it feel good to be part of a better tasting world?

 What’s the Wellington Chocolate Factory?

We’re snuggled in the heart of Wellington city in New Zealand. We have 11 staff and are open to the public. We make organic, ethically traded, bean-to-bar chocolate of the highest quality.

Why Bougainville?

Bougainville is a beautiful tropical island cluster just north of Australia, with a troubled history. Geographically part of the Solomon Islands but politically part of Papua New Guinea, Bougainville is now an Autonomous Region with its own government and economy.

In 1970 Bougainville had the world’s largest open pit copper mine. The mine contributed significantly to the development of the region, but also to its collapse. A civil war followed that lasted 10 years from 1989 – 1999 and killed 20,000 people.

The Bougainville people brought about peace with assistance from the New Zealand and Australian governments, and the new Autonomous Region hasn’t looked back! There are many challenges in rebuilding the economy and raising business confidence: cocoa growing, for which Bougainville was once internationally renowned, is a way forward.

We want to help put Bougainvllle cocoa back on the map! Making the world class artisan Bougainville Bar will help shine a positive light on the region’s potential, and demonstrate that this is a great place to work and do business.

Bougainville Agriculture News: Boost to cocoa industry in Bougainville PNG

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“Cocoa is Bougainville’s most important cash crop, involving about twothirds of Bougainville families,”

“Strengthening this industry will provide widespread benefits for the whole of the ABG, bringing in more money and providing much-needed employment opportunities.”

A recent study of Bougainville’s cocoa industry found farmers could comfortably triple their production by using the right planting materials and improving their management practices”

A new K7 million a year support package will help Bougainville cocoa farmers boost output, improve quality and gain better market access. The Commodity Support Facility (CSF), launched in Buka today (Thursday, March 17), is a joint economic development initiative of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the Governments of PNG, Australia and New Zealand.

The CSF offers grants and targeted assistance to cocoa farmers, dryers, fermenters and traders from across the autonomous region. The whole-of-industry support package will improve access to cocoa pod borer tolerant planting materials, and establish new farmer field schools to help smallholders lift production. Measures will include financial literacy and business management training, and a competition to design improved cocoa dryers and fermentaries.

The CSF will, in the future, expand to support other primary industries prioritised by the ABG, such as coconut or marine resources. ABG Minister for Primary Industries Nicholas Darku said the CSF would help Bougainville’s cocoa industry recover from the impact of the cocoa pod borer. “We have two ingredients on Bougainville. One is fertile soil; the other is hard working people.

“With this support, I know the industry will come back. We will increase our production and ensure Bougainville cements its reputation for producing fine flavour cocoa.” National Coordination Office for Bougainville Affairs A/g Director John Avira said cocoa is a very important cash crop for Bougainville.

“Alongside the CSF support, it is equally critical to have the access roads to bring the product to the market by the farmers,” Avira said “Partnership with other funding sources such as National members DSIP and PSIP could be explored to build roads to ensure the farmers are provided access to market.”

Australian High Commission Minister Counsellor Rod Hilton said the CSF would work with private sector partners to ensure assistance was well targeted.

“We want to ensure that support goes to projects that strengthen Bougainville’s cocoa industry, and contribute to sustainable improvements in production and quality in all regions of Bougainville,” he said.

“That means working with big business, small business and communities, targeting innovators and entrepreneurs. But we also want to see positive impacts for disadvantaged groups, particularly women and young people.”

New Zealand High Commission Counsellor Development, Kathleen Pearce, said the CSF would help everyday Bougainvilleans earn more income and provide revenue for the ABG.

“Cocoa is Bougainville’s most important cash crop, involving about twothirds of Bougainville families,” Pearce said.

“Strengthening this industry will provide widespread benefits for the whole of the ABG, bringing in more money and providing much-needed employment opportunities.”

A recent study of Bougainville’s cocoa industry found farmers could comfortably triple their production by using the right planting materials and improving their management practices.

“I think they can go from about 200-500kg per hectare, to an average of 1500kg per hectare,” Agribusiness consultant David Anderson said. “But the genetic potential of the clones that are being provided to farmers is even higher; up to 2000kg or even 3000kg a hectare.”

Prior to the Bougainville Crisis, the now-autonomous region exported about 30,000 tonnes of cocoa.

Production had recovered to about 26,000 tonnes by 2009, when the cocoa pod borer hit the industry driving production down to about 13,000 tonnes today.

ENDS Enquiries: public-affairs-portmoresby@dfat.gov.au or phone: 325 9333 ext 276

Bougainville News : A tribute to the late Hon Steven Pirika Kamma MP

SB

“The loss of a member of a family, especially the head of a family is a painful and devastating experience for any family, in any family anywhere. 

The loss of a leader among us and in our midst when there is still so much to be done is untimely.

The loss of good, honest and committed national leaders mandated by popular choice in democratic and free elections such as we have and value in this Region and in the country, is a tragic loss.

AS we mourn the passing of the late Hon Steven Pirika Kamma and as the people of South Bougainville and the rest of Bougainville realise and acknowledge he will no longer be with us, it is a time too that we look back at his personal achievements and his marks and contributions in life.”

TRIBUTE BY THE SPEAKER SIMON PENTANU MHR

ON THE OCCASION OF A SPECIAL MEETING OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES TO HONOUR AND PAY TRIBUTE TO THE LATE HON. STEVEN PIRIKA KAMMA MP

On Wednesday 03 March 2016 the casket containing the remains of the late Hon Steven Pirika Kamma MP was laid before the House of Representatives at Kubu, Buka, the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. The casket was accompanied on two flights from Port Moresby to Buka by a parliamentary delegation led by the Speaker of the PNG National Parliament Hon Theodore Zurecnuoc. In the delegation were also United Resources Party stalwarts led by Member for Usino Bundi (Madang) Anthony Yagama MP. Stephen Kamma was a loyal member of the Party.

At the time of his passing Steven was Minister for State assisting the Prime Minister on constitutional matters. He was first elected as member for south Bougainville in 2008 and was serving his second term, 2012-2016, in the National Parliament

The Speaker Hon Simon Pentanu MHR led the tributes for and on behalf of the House of Representatives and members of the House. The President, Hon Chief Dr John Momis MHR also paid tribute on behalf of the People of Bougainville. The casket with the remains of the late Stephen Kamma was formally handed to ABG in a short speech on the floor of Parliament by The Speaker of the PNG National Parliament.

Following is a Tribute given by Speaker Simon Pentanu MHR in the House of Representatives.

The Hon the President, and Hon Members of the House of Representatives.

The Speaker of the PNG National Parliament Hon Theodore Zurenuoc MP

Member for Usino-Bundi Mr Anthony Yagama MP

Member for the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Mr Joe Lera MP

Member for North Bougainville, Mr Louta Ato MP

The family and relatives of the late Hon Steven Piriki Kamma MP

People of Bougainville.

The loss of a member of a family, especially the head of a family is a painful and devastating experience for any family, in any family anywhere.

The loss of a leader among us and in our midst when there is still so much to be done is untimely.

The loss of good, honest and committed national leaders mandated by popular choice in democratic and free elections such as we have and value in this Region and in the country, is a tragic loss.

Honourable Members,

At this juncture, when Bougainville is still faced with many challenges , quite often precarious and trying moments of maturity in its leadership, politics and direction;

At this time when unity and our unification is the clear and loud clarion call from the ABG leadership to all Members of this House, to our four Bougainville MPs in the National Parliament and to the People of Bougainville;

At a time when the people across all communities are seeking more awareness and efforts of all their  elected leaders as the clock ticks down to Referendum;

At a time like this when we lose leaders  in the prime of their political and other public life;

AT ALL THESE TIMES AND MORE, I dare say that death is a cheat on Bougainville.

Honourable Members,

Your life is a priceless gift to you. You cannot re-invent it. You cannot recreate it. You cannot copy it. You cannot clone yourself. Your Life is a gift from God. From Nature. From the Universe. From Mumira. From Tantanu. From Sunahan. Kumponing. All you have do is be mindful and look after it, take care of it. We must all spend some down time on our Health and Wellbeing. This is a message we must all store and carry in our hearts and minds as leaders all the time. It is your duty of care to do so. We owe this to the people who elected us to represent them as we go about our responsibilities to rebuild Bougainville. The state of any nation, any country is judged not only by its wealth and avarice but by the health of its citizens, especially its leaders.

AS we mourn the passing of the late Hon Steven Pirika Kamma and as the people of South Bougainville and the rest of Bougainville realise and acknowledge he will no longer be with us, it is a time too that we look back at his personal achievements and his marks and contributions in life.

This is also an occasion we pay tribute to the late Member’s life and recognise his successes, contributions and the legacy he leaves behind.

Stephen Pirika Kamma had a lot of heart and spent a lot of effort to go ahead in business. He had a lot of heart and worked hard to get into national politics. He did very well on both scores.

Steven also had a lot of heart and faith in himself that it was his responsibility to work hard for his family so they could get ahead in life. He also did very well on this score.

The late Stephen Kamma faced up to and moved on from the Bougainville crisis to gather himself in Rabaul, East New Britain province. A devastating natural disaster, the volcanic eruptions in Rabaul in September 1994 was another blow to his budding business. But instead of dwelling on the misfortunes,  this gave him more determination to lead his family from the front, and not complain and make excuses to fold up. Through all of this and at all times Stephen maintained his family intact.

With an eye for opportunities and contempt for failure after the hard years at home and a natural disaster in Rabaul the late Stephen Kamma headquartered his signature business in pest control in Port Moresby.

I believe from sharing times and moments together as a good friend that it was his control at the helm and determination move on and his personal trials and tribulations in the face of adverse and un-mitigating disasters that made him thinking about public life in politics.

The late Steven’s idea of politics was driven not necessarily by the notion of representation of people per se but rather by his idea that a representative is chosen, among other things,  to bring about practical, visible and tangible results competing in an arena where leaders are vying  for resources and where a leader’s worth and ability is judged often by what developmental changes and improvements he or she can effect to the lives and well-being of the people.

This country is a very rural society where the majority of our people still live in villages. The best evidence of a meaningful link by an elected leader in many ways is a residence among one’s community in the village. The late Mr Kama had a home in his village in his community where he spent considerable time, relatively speaking, with his people.

His record of contacts, links, discussions and offers of advice to the President, some Ministers and members of this House, especially from south Bougainville  is a record he can be justifiably proud of as a national MP. His presence and visits and projects is what did the talking for him.

On the ground in Bougainville as well as in Port Moresby from to time his direct approach to our President on many occasions when matters of interest to Bougainville needed to be explained or when differences and confusion between Kubu and Waigani needed moderating the Hon Member often appeared when he would make  the judgment that his help and arbitration was called for to maintain dialogue between the National Government that he was an integral part of and ABG leadership. His quiet interventions did not always become news stories.

The late Hon Member always keenly followed the ABG elections and the formation of Governments after elections on the ground in the Region. To this end he maintained contact with members from his region and electorate in the south.

Hon Members,

This House recognises and places on record its grateful appreciation of the service and duty of the late Honourable Member as one of the 4 elected Members in the National Parliament. Under the provisions of the Bougainville Constitution our 4 Bougainville MPs in the National Parliament are also Members of this House.

Stephen Kamma, you are laid on the floor of this House as a member of the House. It is not only right but also fitting that this is the case because while our three national MPs each represent the three regions and the regional members represents the whole island, collectively you all represent the People of Bougainville.

The honourable member passed away in office as a Minister of State. Despite issues with his Health the Steven Kamma never winced or blinked his eyes about the duties and responsibilities of a Minister. He stayed on the crease batting to the last innings without getting out. There is no doubt he wanted to see his second term in Parliament right through to the end. Unfortunately this was not to be. While some people may criticise this, the late Minister always kept in touch and abreast and still took decisions right to the end. He valued and knew that two voices for Bougainville in Cabinet was better than one.  He was  loyal to the Government he was a part of. He was a loyal member of his Party.

The Hon late Stephen Kamma is the first Bougainvillean since elections started in PNG in 1964 and since Independence in 1975 to die in office as a serving member and Minister of State.

We have lost a self-made businessman, a proud Siwai entrepreneur  like many other Siwais that are the heart-throb of business and commerce in many areas in Bougainville. He was a kind hearted philanthropist to those that he helped and that knew him well personally.

He found assurance and confidence with his peers in Parliament regardless of the changing and tumultuous times PNG is going through . Bougainville has lost a leader, a proud carrier of our mantle at the national political level. Hon Stephen Kama is a big loss to Bougainville at a time we can least afford to lose our elected leaders.

This House extends its deepest sympathy and condolence to the family of the late Steven Kama, Anna and her children Michael and Pamela and their adopted children at this difficult time in their bereavement. You have a lost a loving husband and father.

May God bless his soul as he rests in His Kingdom. May he rest in Eternal Peace

To conclude, may I on behalf Members assembled here this morning and the People of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville offer our sincere thanks and appreciation to you, the Hon Speaker of the PNG National Parliament and your delegation for accompanying the remains of the late Honourable Stephen Kamma and gracing us with your presence on this occasion. Thank you for handing him back to Bougainville, especially to his people in south Bougainville through  this House.

 

Would restarting Bougainville’s Panguna contribute to sustainable development?

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As pointed out by US AID eighteen months ago: “It… remains unclear how the ABG would finance an independent Bougainville. Many have pinned the financial health of Bougainville on the re-opening of the mine.

“This is problematic, however. Even if the mine were to open prior to the referendum [on independence] (which seems very unlikely), it would take years before it generated revenue for the government

Published by MAC on 2015-10-17
Source: Nostromo Research with Dr Mark Muller (2015-10-17)

Exclusive report

The decade-long civil war, unleashed on the indigenous inhabitants of Bouainville between 1988 and 1998 is unique in recent South Pacific history. Directly and indirectly it cost the lives of up to 20,000 children, women and men.

Although there were several reasons why it lasted lasted so long, it was primarily the presence of the island’s massive Rio Tinto-owned Panguna copper-gold mine which triggered the rebellion that quickly resulted in a horrendous, bloody, conflict, characterised by numerous atrocities.

It is now seven years since a reconciliation process between the combatants was brokered by the New Zealand government. So far, peace has largely prevailed.

Nonetheless vigorous disagreement exists between various land-owner groups and the Bougainville Autonomous Government, over one burning issue:

Should the Panguna mine be re-opened by BCL, Rio Tinto’s subsidiary on Bougainville; offered to other bidders; or closed down for ever?

The report which follows does not take political sides.

Instead, it presents an objective assessment of what the economic, social and environmental costs would be, should the government of Bougainville (or Papua New Guinea) decide to try to revive the mine.

Its conclusions are unequivocal: nothing will be gained by Bougainville’s citizens in doing this.

And much more will be lost, in terms of jeopardising any advances in promoting sustainable livelihoods.

Restarting Panguna: between a rock and a hard place

Nostromo Research with Dr Mark Muller

15 October 2015

Executive summary

  • Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) estimates that the costs of re-opening the Panguna mine will exceed US$5 billion
  • But this doesn’t account for the expenses of concluding several essential “due diligence” studies
  • Even if these go well, a new mine is at least five – possibly ten years – away from any profitable production
  • Judging by the amounts and grades of copper and gold in the existing Panguna mine lease area, any company re-opening the mine will struggle to compete against global competitors, and is likely to fail
  • In order to attract mine development funds, BCL must acquire new prospecting ground outside the current licence area. It’s doubtful this would yield significant fresh economically-recoverable ore reserves
  • There do exist technologies for re-work existing wastes and to access ore which remained at the mine when it was closed in 1989
  • However, even if these were implemented, they would necessitate significant additional operating costs; and would materially increase threats to the integrity and health of landowners’ land and water
  • It’s highly improbable that any other mining company – including Rio Tinto and Chinese ventures – would be seriously interested in re-opening Panguna
  • Major global banks are most unlikely to supply the funding needed for this purpose
  • The new Bougainville Mining Act may offer attractive taxation and royalty terms to community groups and foreign mining companies
  • However, these measures will severely limit the financial returns to central government, thus severely limiting other alternative models to ensure Bougainville’s sustainable development

 

Could Panguna be re-opened while avoiding past devastation and destruction?

Put simply, we ask if there’s any possibility that a future operator could employ “cleaner” technologies – those which were unavailable, or not employed, during the earlier period of Panguna’s life?

If so, would these mark any real improvement on what went on before – in social, environmental and economic terms?

At first sight, the answer seems to be a qualified “yes”. For example, some metals could be recovered from existing waste stock piles without needing to open new pits – an example of this being the large Kolwezi copper tailings project in DR Congo.

Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL)’s chairman Peter Taylor told shareholders in the company’s 2007 Annual Report that Rio Tinto had shown it “has been possible to apply new software and techniques to BCL’s old data and reproduce it in a form that places BCL years ahead of any other potential developer..It is also possible that grades [of ore] once designated as waste can be economically processed and thus prolong the life of the mine and substantially increase its output” [BCL Annual Report 2007, 20 February 2008].

What he seemed to mean by this statement was that, so long as BCL has access to its in-house records and they are in good order, the ore still untouched in the abandoned pit, along with existing stockpiles of lower-grade copper, may be amenable to profitable extraction. Techniques for doing so are much improved on what they were when the mine was forced to close in 1989.

Another possibility, long-established in mining, is to reduce the ore “cut off” grade at the point it is milled, thus enabling lower-grade material – previously discarded and stock-piled – to enter production. Again, the technology for doing this has advanced considerably over the past twenty-six years.

However, it is doubtful that BCL – or any other company- would employ either of these two strategies . Historically, Panguna’s tailings were piped directly into the Jaba River, thence flowing into Empress Augusta Bay. While it might be economically worthwhile to extract metals from tailings that still lie along the Jaba flood plain and in stock piles close to the pit, accessing those on the seabed will be much more problematic.

Of course, BCL might argue that re-working these wastes is a key part of whatever the Bougainville government might insist upon for implementation of a the mining rehabilitation and closure process, process – as mandated under the Bougainville Mining Act of March 2015 (1).

Nonetheless, what is likely to rule out the extraction of sea-bed tailings is the sheer expense involved (2).

So, presuming that BCL decides on economic grounds not to recycle any, or most, of its historic wastes, the burning question is: how then will it dispose of the fresh ones that are bound to be created if mining is resumed?

The practice of riverine tailings disposal has been repeatedly condemned by lawyers and others in Papua New Guinea itself (3). Storing huge amounts of Panguna tailings and overburden on land will inevitably provoke the very resurgence of land-owner opposition that BCL and the present government claim they want to avert.

And it is far from risk-free. Numerous incidents of collapse of such facilities have been recorded year-on year over past decades (One of the most recent occurred at Canada’s Mount Polley copper-gold mine in mid-2014, when a massive tailings spill caused dramatic changes in the local ecosystem) (4).

Reducing the ore cut-off grade is, in theory, quite a sensible strategy. But it inevitably results in more wastes being created at greater operational costs. Usually, companies resort to this only when market prices are high enough to justify it – which they certainly aren’t at present.

In-situ leaching, usually using sulphuric or hydrochloric acid, is another technique which might theoretically be employed to reduce the highly visible and damaging consequences of resuming a traditional “pick, shovel, and dump” operation.

However, since the Panguna orebody consists of igneous/volcanic rock, almost certainly it would require “fracturing” that rock to create the permeability needed for the leaching chemicals to move through to the ore. The prospect of such “fracking” – widely condemned by environmentalists in the US and Europe – would doubtless create alarm among Panguna landowners, and pose a continual threat of contamination to their vital community water supplies.

What are the practical risks to resuming mining at Paguna?

BCL’s version of events from 1989 – 2010

Since the Panguna mine was forced to close in 1989, BCL concedes it has not been possible “to mothball properly the assets or to undertake preparations for prolonged closure”. In a statement made in February 1994, it said that available “studies” (unspecified) indicated “initial production could be re-established within some 18 months from the achievement of the requisite conditions for a return to the island”. Output would then be “built up progressively to the full rate of pre-closure production over a period which would depend upon the conditions of the time” [BCL Annual Report 1993, 16 February 1994].

This vague, unhelpful statement provided little cause for optimism, and in the light of events over the past twenty one years has proved virtually meaningless.

The total cost of returning the mine to full production was at the time of closure said to be “at the upper end of the previously reported range of only 300-500 million kina, spread over a number of years” [BCL Annual Report 1993 ibid] (5)

Nontheless, ten years later BCL was saying: “…[M]etal prices alone will not determine the future of mining on Bougainville” and that: “There is no indication from landowners or the Bougainville government that mining will be welcome”. Moreover: “It must… be assumed that mine site assets continue to deteriorate with time, and therefore the cost of a restart increases…[A]ny potential developer seeking funding to restart the project is faced with the additional issues of PNG country risk and the long period of disturbance originating in the violent closure of the mine…For the record, the company is not doing any mining feasibility work nor is it planned” [BCL Annual Report 2003, 26 February 2004].

By the end of the next decade, BCL appeared to be more optimistic about re-establishing the logistics for a return to the mining lease area, in order to assess the state of Panguna’s assets, and hopefully to access new exploration sites. In its 2009 Annual Report, the company said that management was “enthusiastic to study a mine restart once the peace process has been resolved (sic)” and that “Rio Tinto will be of great assistance to BLC in providing world class technical expertise and mine development experience” [BCL Annual Report 2009, 10 February 2010].

In the meantime, an Order of Magnitude study (essentially an assessment of mineral potential), along with exploration studies, had been initiated in 2008. But BCL admitted it had still not benefited from any “technical expertise and mine development experience” which might come from Rio Tinto. It also noted that the mining pre-feasibility study – one essential to estimating the costs of re-opening Panguna- “is a very expensive exercise that won’t be started until there is greater certainty that the Government and landowners support re-development”, although it was hoped that “during the year, certainty will come and the Board will approve the next phase of restart studies” [BCL Annual Report 2009, ibid]

A year later (2010), BCL chairman, Peter Taylor reported that parent company Rio Tinto had recently applied for exploration licences on the Papua New Guinea mainland., thus providing a“good indicator” that it was “looking to be an active participant in PNG’s future mineral development”, adding that: “Bougainville Copper is among those projects that Rio Tinto has on active watch” [BCL Annual Report 2010, 1 March 2011] (6).
Taylor added:: “[S]ome remedial work has been carried out on site as part of the company’s commitment to ensure the mine site is safe whether or not mining is taking place”, and announced it had “plans to do additional work with the cooperation of landowners”. No details were given either of the work done, or of any additional work planned [BCL Annual Report 2010, ibid].

Would the costs outweigh the benefits?

In BCL’s 2011 Annual Report, Peter Taylor asserted : “There is widespread agreement today that Bougainville’s economic future needs mining in order to fund services for the people from its own resources as well address the future question of increased autonomy”. It was yet another unsubstantiated statement by BCL’s chairperson which, we would argue, is an extremely debatable one.

In the same report, Mr Taylor also mentioned that funding and sovereign risk assurance for Panguna would “require a united effort” (whatever that was supposed to mean).

That year, BCL estimated the cost of project re-opening as being “approximately US$3 billion” [BCL Annual Report, 2011, 12 February 2012]

Just twelve months later, this figure had shot up by more than 40% to ”in excess of US$5 billion” [BCL Annual Report 2012, 7 February 2013].

Then, on 25 February 2014, Taylor told BCL shareholders that the Order of Magnitude Study, presented at the 2013 Annual General Meeting, was “being continually re-visited and updated”.

He described a possible new mine at Panguna as one which would process between 60 and 90 million tonnes of ore per annum over a mine life of 24 years”, carrying a capital cost “of at least US$5.2 million” [BCL Annual Report 2013, 25 February 2014].

As for the length of time required to re-start-the mine, Mr Taylor said this “could be between five and seven years from the commencement of a pre-feasibility study study” – which itself was “at least eighteen months away from commencement” [BCL Annual Report 2013, ibid].

At last, BCL appeared to be moving towards a more realistic estimation of the costs and difficulties of re-opening the mine and resuming profitable production. Although the company has gained restricted access to the site over the past two years, in 2014 Taylor conceded that the Order of Magnitude Study – by then two years old – was “based on many assumptions including commodity prices, market demand, investor risk, opportunity costs, security of tenure and others”  [BCL Annual Report 2014, 20 February 2015].

All these assumptions are extremely vulnerable to forthcoming dramatic changes which cannot possibly be predicted much in advance.

The time required to bring Panguna into new production would, by BCL’s own admission, set any start-up back to 2020-2022 at the earliest.

Yet, the pre-feasibility study has yet to be scheduled, let alone carried out. It would have to be followed by what’s usually called a “bankable feasibility study” – without which few, if any, credit-worthy banks or private funds will look twice at making any investment.

This study would need to be farmed out to an independent professional services firm, and could take at least another year to complete, given the sorry state of the Panguna assets that BCL has already agreed have suffered a “long period of disturbance originating in the violent closure of the mine.” (see above).

It should also be pointed out that, while BCL acknowledges the importance of assessing country (or sovereign) risk – presumably of both PNG and Bougainville – no reference has been made at any point by BCL to the necessity of gaining political risk insurance (7).

In addition it is certain that, whichever corporate enterprise may succeed in placing “ boots on Panguna ground”, it will have to secure export credits to finance new equipment and infrastructure, and to cover this by buying such political risk insurance. It is highly doubtful that any government Export Credit Agency (ECA), or the World Bank’s MIGA (Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency) would step up to this particular plate (8)

More important, however, is that , even were the copper market in a “bullish” state by the time BCL had successfully jumped all these hurdles, its competitors will have leaped ahead of it by miles in other parts of the world.

Mining companies, with far more capacity, security of tenure, and owning considerably more “measured and indicated reserves” of copper, are already anticipating a rise in global demand, despite the current depression in the copper commodities market.

What this clearly means is that, judging by the copper and gold reserves estimated to lie in the former Panguna Special Mining Lease, it is essential for BCL to acquire extensive additional deposits.

But, even if the Bougainville government were to allow any advancement beyond the current mining lease area (a big “if), there is no guarantee whatsoever that fresh diamond drilling would yield any major economically recoverable reserves or resources (9).

Alternative development models

What’s most important is that, while any mining company is awaiting all the required pre-mining permits, funding, insurance and confirmed buyers of its output, the Bougainville government and landowners – almost its entire population – may be placing faith in a dubious, flawed and risky project which could collapse at any point along the way.

As pointed out by US AID eighteen months ago: “It… remains unclear how the ABG would finance an independent Bougainville. Many have pinned the financial health of Bougainville on the re-opening of the mine.

“This is problematic, however. Even if the mine were to open prior to the referendum [on independence] (which seems very unlikely) (sic), it would take years before it generated revenue for the government.

“An adverse circular effect is therefore in place: the mine is necessary to generate revenue for ARG [Autonomous Region of Bougainville] operations, yet the re-opening of the mine is likely to destabilize the ARG. There are further concerns that the ABG lacks the capacity to adequately and transparently account for and manage revenue resources.

“A Bougainville government that does not have the resources or the oversight capacity to provide basic services to its population [contingent on mine re-opening] would be a grave threat to stability” 10).

This has profound implications for Bougainville if, while waiting for the mine to re-open and produce revenues, the government has surrendered, or at the very least delayed, implementation of the possibilities of forging and supporting alternative economic models – regardless of what proportion of these translates into taxation and royalties for Bougainville itself and for landowners.

In fact, the Bougainville Mining Act is distinctly generous to miners, when defining the fees, annual rents, royalties, production levy, security Section 291 Royalties, and the production levy that they must pay (11) .

The Act may prove to be beneficial to indigenous landowners who apply for “indigenous” tenements; and perhaps rightly so. (In fact landowners holding an artisanal mining license are not required to pay a royalty, though they may be subject to a similar separate agreement). But it also appears aimed at attracting external corporate mining outfits, hoping that they will favourably compare these rates to more exigent ones levied in other countries.

In practice, therefore, the Bougainville state – unlike others, such as Tanzania, Argentina and Mongolia – seems about to abandon any quest to substantially ramp up mining revenues which might contribute to an overall social and economic national development.

The new Bougainville Mining Act devotes around half its pages to Community Mining Licences and Tenements. Clearly, considerable importance is now ascribed to promoting landowner-controlled mining ventures, whether they be artisanal, small scale or large scale. And this may be guardedly welcomed.

Nonetheless, indigenous mineral exploitation, like its corporate “big brother”, broadly speaking cannot escape the problems of capital raising, averting environmental destruction, and having to weather commodity market downturns.

When such exploitation conflicts with priorities chosen by other land owners for the use of land, especially for agriculture, and creates fierce competition for scarce development funding, it will certainly not make for overall economic sustainability.

So much then, for Peter Taylor’s boast in 2011 – echoed recently by ABG president John Momis – that: “There is widespread agreement today that Bougainville’s economic future needs mining in order to fund services for the people from its own resources”.

This is manifestly untrue.

The late Moses Havini and his wife Rikha, in 1995 recorded that, within forty years of the end of World War II, Bougainville had become “the richest agricultural region in the Pacific” (12).

With effort, application, and a re-direction of fiscal priorities, the country might regain at least some of that former role.

Although lack of space precludes detailed further examination of the nature of potential alternative, sustainable models of development, we refer to some recent examples, given in a September 2014 report by Jubilee Australia, culled from interviews with “a range of everyday Bougainvilleans living in villages around the Panguna mining area” (13)

The respondents offered many practical example of “concrete alternative (sic) to intensive mining”, with a huge priority given to horticulture & subsistence horticulture, followed by animal husbandry, alluvial gold panning,fisheries, forest and logging, carbon trading, water export, micro projects and other means of sustaining livelihoods (14)

Flying on a wing and a prayer

Let’s look closer at the data provided by BCL for the proven economically recoverable copper and gold reserves in the lease area and accessible before 1989 – the point at which it abandoned the site

(The reader is also referred to our Appendix for a detailed discussion of this issue).

There were 496 million tonnes of these ores, at an average grade of 0.45% for copper, and 0.55 grams per tonne of gold.

“Upgrading” by screening, added 530 million tonnes of ore at a grade of 0.22% for copper and 0.18 grams per tonne of gold – substantially lower than those for the proven reserves. The company said these would produce an additional 195 million tonnes of mill feed, averaging 0.34% copper and 0.47 grams per tonne of gold.

Combining these would produce a total mineable mill feed of an estimated 691 million tonnes of material, averaging 0.40% copper and 0.47 grams per tonne of gold [BCL Annual Report 1999, 7 March 2000]..

These figures have not materially changed since mining began, and should be critically borne in mind when evaluating what BCL now has on offer, after seventeen years of mining one of the world’s most productive and (apparently) most profitable copper-gold projects at the time.

Alas, they offer to Bougainville no more than a “wing and a prayer” for the following reasons:

  • In terms of current copper production and planned expansions, an unprecedented amount of copper may hit world markets by 2020. Theoretically, the availability of supply is not in question. As a few examples,the putative El Teniente mine in Chile, with 2.02 billion tonnes of copper reserves, averaging a grade of 0.86% copper, is expected to open in 2018 and produce fine copper for fifty years
  • Peru’s Metmin claims to hold 926 million tonnes of copper resources, grading 0.51%, while the Antamina mine, also in Peru, boasts probable resources of 454 million tonnes, grading as high as 1.05%.
  • The Grasberg mine in Papua , which ranks as the world’s third largest copper producer, and number one gold miner, currently digs up 240,000 tonnes of rock containing gold and copper ore per day (sic), at a mill cut-off grade of 0.41%. for copper. (In comparison, at peak production, Panguna was producing 150,000 tonnes of rock a day) (15).
  • Coming closest to Panguna in geo-political terms is Papua New Guinea’s Ok Tedi mine wich recently underwent major expansions and drilling for new deposits. As of the beginning of 2014, the company had located 871 million tonnes of additional ore on Mount Fubilan, grading 0.44% copper and 0.54 grammes per tone (g/te) of gold, thus putting it somewhat ahead of Panguna; more important is that it already has the technical ability and capacity to extract the ore without needing to meet the enormous extra capital costs that Bougainville’s equivalent would require.

According to the World Gold Council (WGC), larger and better quality underground mines contain around 8 to 10g/t of gold, with marginal underground mines having averages of around 4 to 6g/t. and open pit mines usually have lower grades from 1g/te to 4g/te – all of which are far higher than those so far confirmed for the Panguna deposits.

(Important to note, too, is that several mines also deliver substantial economic amounts of other metals – such as silver, zinc and molybdenum – thus providing a possible “safety net” if demand for copper or gold becomes negatively impacted).

Put all this data together, and it leads to a virtually incontestable conclusion:

Unless BCL, or any other mining company, can geometrically increase the amount of copper and gold reserves at Panguna, and unless exploration outside the lease area confirms a significant rise in their average grades, the island will be left economically stranded, if and when a new “race for resources” ensues over coming years.

Added to which, a company would need to secure firm contracts with external buyers over a defined time-span. Most of these will have already been concluded, and some of them will stretch out for years. Those contracts traded on futures exchanges (predominantly the London Metal Exchange) can have a life of more than five years, and change hands between buyers and sellers many times over. There is customarily a huge volatility in metals trading, but particularly in copper (16). An opportunity customarily arises for so-called “spot buying” – as when a Chinese smelter, for example, unexpectedly falls short of supply. However, to rely on such transactions alone, in order to bankroll a future mine, would be sheer folly.

Rio Tinto – a blithe prospect for Bougainville

As the majority owner of BCL, any decision Rio Tinto makes as to how, or whether, it should aim at reviving mining and exploration in Bougainville must take into account its current – and future – role as one of the world’s major copper producers. In other words, it has to ask which of its existing projects merits increased investment, and which should be left to “wither on the vine”.

Currently it is entitled to a 40% portion of the Grasberg mine in Papua; and in the first quarter alone of 2015, it gained over 132 million tonnes from the output of its wholly-owned Bingham Canyon mine in Utah (USA), and its share of the Escondida mine in Chile. For the future, it is embarked on development of what promises to be a world-class copper mine at La Granja, Peru.

Rio Tinto’s longer-term “great red hope” lies with the Oyu Tolgoi copper-gold project in Mongolia, with whose government it recently inked a deal to proceed with full commercial output, the copper grade across a number of deposits averaging 0.85% and 0.32% grammes per ton of gold..

In comparison to these, investing in the advent of a Panguna “Mark-11” must seem the distinct stuff of economic fantasy.

Little wonder that, when Rio Tinto initiated its review of Panguna in 2014, it was already seriously contemplating selling-out of the mine, and is currently mooting options for disposing of its entire share holding in BCL (17).

What about China?

Earlier this year, Rio Tinto expressed the view that China was”slowing its own demand for copper” (18) . Bloomberg agreed, recently commenting: “[I]t is difficult to predict when the market will witness [a] turning point. For now the copper price is reacting to the slowdown in China, which last year saw its economy grow at its lowest pace since 1990.

“As a consumer of more than 40 per cent of the world’s copper, any further weakening in China’s growth, without a revival in the rest of the world, could mean years before the price bounces back to previous levels” (19).

Certainly China has roamed the world in recent years in search of a whole gamut of metals at prices it judgese reasonable. In 2014, a Chinese consortium acquired (from Glencore, the world’s premier copper trader) the Las Bambas mine in Peru which, at full capacity, is expected to produce 460,000 tonnes a year of copper over 18 years (20).

This cost the Chinese partners US$5.85 billion – thus coming close to the figure BCL reckons it will need to re-start the Panguna operations.
But this should in no way be interpreted as a sign that China is seriously interested in acquiring the Panguna mine – something that has been recently speculated upon in Bougainville. On the contrary, there is good reason to believe that – apart from a few possible smaller deals or participation in existing joint ventures – the regime is no longer interested in spending a similar amount of money on any venture in Bougainville – and perhaps nowhere else either (21).

Citing developments in Chile – the world’s largest single copper producer, with around a third of the global market – Bloomberg says that: “The average investment of the 10 major mining companies in Chile was more than $8bn in 2012, but fell to $6bn in 2014.

And, while the Chilean company Codelco (the world’s single largest copper miner) “plans to invest more than $20bn over the next five years… that is just to maintain its existing operations and production” (22).

What, then, to make of all this? On the one hand, with costs rising and investment falling, the future for an expanding copper market looks bleak. Any expansion will further reduce copper’s selling-price – and in turn exert a downward impact on the revenues required to finance new production. On the other hand, restricting output now will hopefully lead to a boost in prices – a so-called “bull market – and logically to a revival of copper mining.

But that is not actually the way the market works: a surplus of mined supply results in another drop in prices, and yet again to deep reluctance on the part of investors to throw fresh money after old.

It is therefore highly likely, that, at the point – following the ten or more years it would take for a revived Panguna mine to enter full production – it would have few, if any, customers.

A cautionary end-note

The Bougainville Mining Act (paragraph 236, paragraph 4 (d) ) states that any company wishing to apply for a mining or exploration tenement must have “ sound financial standing and has either established an (sic) bank account in Papua New Guinea to carry out the proposed exploration work programme or mining proposal plans or can produce evidence of financial capacity from a duly authenticated source offshore”.

Whether BCL is now in any position to comply with this condition is doubtful, but its 2014 Annual Report, BCL recorded an overall operating loss of 175.7 million kina (approximately 65 million US dollars). Its former mining licence has been converted by the Bougainville government into an exploration licence, without any guarantee that the company will locate an appreciable amount of new mineral reserves and resources, let alone at the high grade essential to its competing against other mining companies.

(1) The Advisory Council, designated under the Act ,has the power to forbid this type of seabed extraction, citing section 67 paragraph 4.i, of the Act, on “the need to protect fisheries and ecologically important areas of seabed habitats from offshore mining…” On the other hand, the following paragraph (67.4.ii) cites “the need to maintain access to areas of high mining potential” although this is clearly intended to apply to primary, rather than secondary, seabed extraction.

(2) As a comparison, the Nautilus Minerals deep-sea Solwara-1 exploration and mining project, in Papua New Guinea waters, will cost that company at least 120 million US dollars by the point of production, with additional outlays on the running costs of vessels and equipment required for the purpose [See: http://www.nautilusminerals.com/i/pdf/webcast-November-2014-final-comments.pdf)
(3) See for example: “Constitutional Law Reform Commission recommends total banning of riverine tailings disposal”, Post Courier, 31 July 2014
(4) See: “Mount Polley mining disaster caused major changes to ecosystem – study”, Mining,com, 6 May 2015; http://www/mining..com/mount-polley-mining-disaster-caused-major-changes to-ecosystem-study/
(5) Although the Kina-US dollar exchange rate at this time is not known, five years later it was 2.11 PGK/US$, thus the projected costs then amounted to around 200 million US dollars.
(6) In reality, Rio Tinto has made no significant moves on the PNG mainland in recent years. It pulled out of the Mt Kare prospect in 1993, following an armed attack two years earlier; it withdrew from the Golpu porphyry deposit after spending six years (1996-2002) prospecting it. It also off-loaded its stake in Lihir Gold in 2005. For an invigorating account of Rio Tinto’s chequered experiences at Mt Kare, see: Dave Henton and Andi Flower:“Mount Kare GOLD RUSH; Papua New Guinea, 1988-1994, as told to Andi Flower”, Cotton Tree, Queensland, 2007
(7) For a critical analysis of PIR, see: Roger Moody, “The Risks We Run: Mining, Communities and Political Risk Insurance”, International Books, Utrecht, 2005, page 201 et seq.
(8) See “A guide for feasibility planning for junior mining companies: http://www.nortonrosefulbright.com/files/mining-guide-feasibility-104177.pdf
(9) Mineral prospecting on Bougainville started from Australia in 1929, most likely by CRA, then a subsidiary of RTZ (later Rio Tinto Ltd). Panguna was “discovered” in 1965, when Bougainville, as part of Papua New Guinea, was under Australian colonial administration. We can reasonably assume that, although no data on exploration outside Panguna is now publicly available, Rio Tinto had earlier ventured into prospecting other parts of the island, and concluded that drilling results from these areas did not justify its applying for an additional exploration or mining licence. Obviously, with much more sophisticated technology, including satellite imaging and three-dimensional deposit modelling, having become available since then, the situation could change were BCL of Rio Tinto allowed to extend prospecting to the island as a whole. At present this seems very unlikely.
(10) Bougainville Stability Desk Study, USAID, 10 October 2013.
(11) According to paragraph 291/1 of the Mining Act:”The holder of a mining lease or quarry lease must pay quarterly—(a) landowners’ royalty, at the rate of 1.5% of mineral value; and (b) regional development royalty, at the rate of 1.25% of mineral value; and (c) health and education royalty, at the rate of 0.5% of mineral value; and production levy, at the rate of 0.5% of mineral value. No mention is made of other taxes, such as corporation tax and windfall tax, and other types of mineral taxation, widely employed elsewhere.
(12) Moses and Rikha Havini, “Bougainville – the long struggle for freedom”, UN International Conference on Indigenous Peoples Environment and Development”, Zurich 1995.
(13) “Voices of Bougaiville: Nikana Kangsi, Nikana Dong Damana (Our Land, Our Future”, Australia, September 2014, page 5.
(14) [“Voices of Bougainville”, ibid, page 43
(15) See: Hammond, Timothy G. “Conflict Resolution in a Hybrid State: The Bougainville Story, “, Foreign Policy Journal, April 22, 2011
(16) See: http://www.boell.de/en/2015/03/02/critical-matter-german-investments-mining-sector
(17) .The Australian, 20 April 2015; Wall Street Journal, 18 August 2014].
(18) Bloomberg, 27 April 2015
(19) Bloomberg, ibid
(20) Engineering & Mining Journal, August 2014
(21) The only Chinese company which appears to have taken any interest in Panguna is a minor scrap metal outfit, operating for three years, which was recently attacked by landowners for blatantly disregarding their interests . A spokesperson is quoted as saying: “We the landowners have never called for the government to shelter other people on our land without seeking our consent. We are never respected by the government thus we the people who own the land here in Panguna will never respect them”, adding “The Chinese are not known by the gods of the land.” (PNG Minewatch, 1 May 2015).
(22) Bloomberg, op cit

APPENDIX: Making sense of the figures

Dr Mark Muller*

14 October 2015

Given (only) the information contained in annual reports published by BCL over the years since mine closure, there is a quite large uncertainty in exactly how much ore and contained metal might be recovered from what remains of the Panguna deposit. It is apparent that BCL, in 2013, has become more optimistic about how much ore (and therefore metal) it might recover from the mine. BCL’s new optimism appears to rely heavily on technological improvements in minerals processing to allow them to mine lower-grade ores economically.

In 2013, BCL envisaged a possible new mine at Panguna that “would process between 60 and 90 million tonnes of ore per annum over a mine life of 24 years” [BCL Annual Report 2013, 25 February 2014], which implies a total recovery of between 1,440 and 2,160 million tonnes of ore.

This 2013 estimate is significantly higher than BCL’s estimate in 1999 of a “total mineable mill feed of an estimated 691 million tonnes of material” [BCL Annual Report 1999, 7 March 2000].
While there is no clear indication of where or how the additional ore might be derived, inferences based on BCL’s more concrete information of 1999 point towards a large proportion of it consisting of significantly lower-grade ore.

In 1999, BCL referred to a resource consisting of both higher-grade and lower-grade components [BCL Annual Report 1999, 7 March 2000]: 496 million tonnes of “higher-grade” ore with an average grade of 0.45% for copper and 0.55 grams per tonne for gold and 530 million tonnes of “lower-grade” ore at a grade of 0.22% for copper and 0.18 grams per tonne for gold.

The latter low-grade component, BCL proposed, could be upgraded by screening to produce an additional 195 million tonnes of mill feed, averaging 0.34% copper and 0.47 grams per tonne of gold which, in combination with the higher-grade ore, would deliver the total mineable mill feed of 691 million tonnes (referred to above), averaging 0.40% copper and 0.47 grams per tonne of gold.

The amounts of in situ copper and gold (and the current in situ US$ value) that correspond with the 691 million tonne resource are:
Copper:
2.764 million tonnes US$ 17.7 billion (at US$ 6,410 /tonne copper)
Gold:
324.8 tonnes US$ 12.4 billion (at US$ 38.31 /gram or US$ 1,191.42 /oz gold).

It’s difficult to estimate (or more honestly, guess) what average ore-grades might be assigned to BCL’s much larger total ore production estimates of 2013. The grade values reported from 1999 for the 691 million tonnes resource are almost certainly too high and would significantly overestimate the contained metal. More conservatively, one could consider a weighted average of the “high-grade” and “low-grade” ore grades reported in 1999, yielding average grades of 0.33% for copper and 0.36 grams per tonne for gold, which strictly speaking can only be applied to a 1,026 million tonne ore resource (i.e., 496 million tonnes plus 530 million tonnes).

Such a 1,026 million tonne ore resource would deliver in situ:
Copper:
3.398 million tonnes US$ 21.8 billion (at US$ 6,410 /tonne copper)
Gold:
368.2 tonnes US$ 14.1 billion (at US$ 38.31 /gram or US$ 1,191.42 /oz gold).

To complete the analysis one might, speculatively (in all likelihood overestimating the contained metal in the deposit), apply these average grades of 0.33% for copper and 0.36 grams per tonne for gold to the 1,440 (minimum) and 2,160 (maximum) million tonnes of ore that BCL envisaged in 2013 for a 24 year life-of-mine. Doing so yields (in situ):
Copper:
Minimum 4.769 million tonnes US$ value 30.6 billion (at US$ 6,410 /tonne copper)
Maximum 7.154 million tonnes US$ value 45.9 billion
Gold:
Minimum 516.8 tonnes US$ value 19.8 billion (at US$ 38.31 /gram or US$ 1,191.42 /oz gold)
Maximum 775.2 tonnes US$ value 29.7 billion.

The amount and value of the metal in the ground of course provides no guarantee that it might be economically or profitably recovered. Even with improvements in minerals processing technology, the cost of processing low-grade ore per ton of metal produced is still high with respect to processing higher-grade ores.

In all the scenarios sketched above, a very large percentage of the ore is low-grade, and judicious mixing of low-grade with high-grade ores will be required to ensure the long term viability of any new mine. Such a finely balanced (marginal) operation would be at high risk of early closure if strategic or economic imperatives, of which there are many (e.g., low commodity prices, shareholder pressure, profit taking), were to lead BCL to extract the higher-grade ore selectively at a faster rate than initially envisaged – leaving behind low-grade ore potentially impossible to recover economically at any commodity price. The risk of such an early mine closure at Panguna is the renewal of significant environmental and land-use impacts without the delivery of promised long-term economic benefits.

Two further points may be of interest:

(i) At current commodity prices, gold accounts for approximately 40% of the in situ US$ value of the deposit.
(ii) Given the small fraction of metals contained in the rock, the amount of tailings waste produced by the mine would be roughly equivalent to the amount of ore processed – i.e., depending on the scenario, anywhere between 691 and 2,160 million tonnes of tailings waste.

* Biographical note: Dr Muller is a highly-experienced senior geophysicist, having worked for over twenty years in the mining industry and academia. He holds a PhD from University of Cambridge, UK and an MSc from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.

 

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Bougainville News: Are gold bars or chocolate bars our economic future PART 2

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A cocoa farmer in the Tinputz area of North Bougainville, Mr. James Rutana says Bougainville is capable of producing 200,000 tons of cocoa annually.

And, this can earn Bougainville K2.8 billion annually in which the ABG government would collect K280 million in taxes.

By Tom Kathoa | New Dawn

Mr. Rutana said with this kind of money around, there would be no need for mining in Bougainville.

A New Zealand Chocolate Factory in Wellington is exporting Mr. Rutana’s cocoa to be made into chocolate bars for consumption.

They are braving rough seas and blistering sun to bring a tonne of Bougainville cocoa beans to New Zealand in a sailboat.(Picture below the Tinputz community welcome the crew)

SEE BOUGAINVILLE NEWS STORY HERE

Choco

Mr. Rutana is strongly asking Bougainvilleans to turn to cocoa production because he believes this can meaningfully contribute millions of kina to develop and sustain the region’s future.

He said a small backyard cocoa farm of one hectare if maintained well can earn the farmer K30, 000.00 annually, money that can be used to pay the children’s school fees and the family’s other needs.

Mr. Rutuna further said, Bougainville has everything that one needs to make a living to survive, but all it requires is the commitment to turn the land into its usefulness.

Cocoa

SEE COCOA REPORT HERE

Bougainville Chocolate News : NZ chocolate makers arrive to take a tonne of Bougainville cocoa beans to New Zealand in a sailboat.

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Two Wellington chocolatiers are braving rough seas and blistering sun to bring a tonne of Bougainville cocoa beans to New Zealand in a sailboat.

Photo above the sailboat arriving in Buka a few days ago : thanks to Kuri Resort for Photo

Picture below : Tinputz community waiting to load Update : 2.00 pm Boat has arrived

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Wellington Chocolate Factory co-owners Gabe Davidson and Rochelle Harrison will arrive back in Wellington in early September after nearly two months away.

Report today from DOMINION POST NZ

Last year a Kickstarter campaign raised $30,000 for them to work with James Rutana, a cocoa grower in Bougainville, between Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. After civil war devastated the area, he had almost had to give up his crop.

Now his beans will be added to the Wellington Chocolate Factory’s growing list.

But first the beans will be transported to New Zealand in a Samoan vaka.

Marketing manager Maxine Macaulay said the boat was chosen because it was the most sustainable way to transport the beans.

The chocolate factory, hidden away in Eva St in central Wellington, creates ethically produced organic chocolate.

In the 18 months it has been open, it has grown from making 200 bars a week to 2000.

It already uses Samoan, Dominican and Peru cocoa, or cacao, beans. Bougainville is the latest to join.

Macaulay said most people believed chocolate was the same no matter where the beans came from.

“I didn’t realise until I started working here that there is as much diversity in chocolate as there is with wine or coffee,” she said.

“[Our chocolate bars] are essentially the same ingredients – 70 per cent cocoa, 30 per cent sugar – and then you get this vast array of differences in flavour because of where it comes from.”

She had already tried a sneaky taster of the Bougainville chocolate.

“It’s tasty and interesting. It’s kind of like smoky yoghurt and it’s a lot lighter.”

General manager Miriam Ramos said most chocolate was made from cheap beans from West Africa.

She said having an open factory where people could see the chocolate being made showed them all the work that went into making ethically produced chocolate.

“People are able to come here, see it and learn about it,” she said.

“It’s very important that people realise the work that is involved with any food. Nothing is instant.”

The factory’s small staff do everything from hulling the cocoa beans to hand-wrapping the finished bars.

“We stone grind our chocolate, and we don’t add any dairy, additives or emulsifiers.”

The factory doesn’t just make plain chocolate. Among its flavours are Salted Caramel Brittle, Chilli Lime Nuts and a Coconut Milk Chocolate.

Its latest collaborations are a Great War Bar with the Great War Exhibition at Te Papa to recreate the historic World War II ration chocolate bar, and a Peanut Butter Bar with Fix & Fogg.

To sweeten the success, it won the best small emerging business award at the Mindfood Producer of the Year awards last week.

The Wellington Chocolate Factory bars are sold throughout New Zealand, and in Sydney and Melbourne.

 – The Wellingtonian

 

Bougainville’s Economic Future : Gold bars or chocolate bars -Cocoa report

 Cocoa

“I treat each cocoa clone like it is a gold bar. I don’t want to see poverty among my people.

That’s why I say cocoa is like gold to us.” Close Quotes

David Vaorete
Cocoa farmer

Since the cocoa had been introduced to Bougainville, there is no millionaire in the cocoa industry, the local farmers are just sweating their guts making money for other big companies like Agmark, Monpi and others, We have been working for our bread and butter with no such improvements to date.

“I want to challenge leaders to put in some strategic plans to revive that quality of cocoa Bougainville had seen and produced before the conflict and make it possible for processing to happen in the region rather than selling our dried cocoa beans.”

Simeon Karena, once a subsistence farmer of Doreinang SEE PREVIOUS REPORT

choc

In the 1980s, Bougainville produced the most cocoa of any province in Papua New Guinea. Alongside copra, this was the backbone of a thriving rural economy, and it provided critical income for thousands of people.

But from 1989, Bougainville was to experience a devastating nine year conflict. The economic impacts were crippling. Industry was decimated; villagers were unable to access their land or markets – and production of cocoa and copra grounded to a halt.

After a limited revival, the cocoa industry has stagnated: aging trees mean poor yields, and cocoa pod borer (CPB) has ravaged remaining crops. Cocoa production in Bougainville fell by more than 41% from 2009, to reach its lowest level since the crisis.

Cocoa has declined as valuable skills and knowledge have been lost

The highland areas of Tinputz, on the east coast of Bougainville, are known for their fertile soils, and were once a hub for agriculture in Bougainville.

David Vaorete, from the village of Namatoa, has watched the community’s cocoa gardens turn to jungle. He says that the younger generation now lack the skills and knowledge to take cocoa production forward. During the conflict, many young people were killed in the fighting. Many more grew up away from their land.

“Looking at the new generation after the crisis, a lot of them did not know how to plant and cultivate the cocoa crops,” he explains. “So it was done by those who had already learned how to tend to cocoa – mostly elders in the community. The younger generation was not taught how.”

A new project is restoring skills, tackling CPB and helping revive interest in cocoa

Now, David is involved in implementing a new program, the Productive Partnerships in Agriculture Project (PPAP). Supported by the World Bank, International Fund for Agricultural Development  and the European Union, it engages farmer groups and the cocoa industry to help rejuvenate growers’ gardens.  Several lead partners—including exporters; NGOs or grower cooperatives—have been recruited by the project to help farmers revive cocoa production.

As part of this project, David chairs the Namatoa village nursery, which is growing and distributing hundreds of new cocoa plants to participating farmers. These seedlings are hybrid clones, specially grown to be more resistant to CPB. The trees are shorter and easier to manage, and they are relatively quick to bear fruit. He is also working with schools to develop skills and interest among young people.

Farmers are further supported with training, crop diversification activities and tools provided by lead partners.

Where the new cocoa varieties have been planted, growers are already seeing a big difference in the amount of cocoa they can harvest, which is translating into higher incomes for their families. With good management, growers can eliminate as much as 98% of CPB infestation and bring it firmly under control.

Maristella Sira is a farmer in Tinputz and she has received training, seedlings and tools through a PPAP-initiated partnership with Monpi Cocoa Exports.

“I think we have produced over a 100 bags – we’ve seen an increase. With the additional income, I’ve been able to build a new house, buy a new water tank, a lawn mower and other household tools,” says Maristella.

For David, Maristella’s story is not surprising, and explains growing interest in cocoa among villagers. He sees cocoa as key to restoring economic vibrancy to Tinputz.

“I treat each cocoa clone like it is a gold bar,” he says. “I don’t want to see poverty among my people.

Expanding the project is producing results for small farmers

Earlier this year the World Bank Board approved an additional $30 million to expand PPAP, aimed to double coffee and cocoa production, and increase income for an estimated 60,000 smallholder farmers.  The European Union has recently contributed an additional EUR5 million, and IFAD will soon add $22 million of financing to further increase these benefits.

This year is the first that farmers are really seeing the impact of the project. In the cocoa sector alone, as of May 2014, nearly a million trees have been rehabilitated or planted, to benefit thousands of smallholder cocoa farmers and their families.

Rejuvenating the cocoa industry in Bougainville

For Papua New Guinea’s cocoa industry, this is merely the beginning. Like many others, David believes there is huge potential for Bougainville-origin chocolate on the global market.

It is a product which is granted coveted “fine flavor” status; the industry also stands to benefit from its proximity to Asian grinders in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia – countries which are now buying as much as 46% of PNG’s cocoa.

“The saying used to go about a ‘stream of cocoa’ flowing, back when it used to thrive. Now they can say, the ‘stream of cocoa’ is flowing again to Tinputz,” David assures. “And I must stress, it will be of the very best quality!”

UPDATE from NEW DAWN FM

There are more unregistered Cocoa Fermentries in Bougainville than those that are registered.

Regional Cocoa Board Inspector, Mr. Moses Burin revealed that of the 1,162 fermenteries only 292 are registered with the Cocoa Board whilst many are unregistered and operating illegally.

Mr. Burin revealed this in his awareness program on how best farmers should look after their cocoa and fementries.

He said the high number of unregistered fermentaries could be due to the Cocoa Pod Borer outbreak several years ago.

But he urged owners to be honest with themselves by registering their operations with the authority.

Mr. Burin has also publicly announced that the Cocoa Board calendar ends in September and is appealed to farmers to renew their licenses when they are due.

He said it is better for those involved in the industry to abide by the rule of law to ensure top quality is maintained.