Bougainville Government News : First 100 days Achievements of Chief Secretary Joseph Nobetau

 ” The challenges that we face are immense. As Chief Secretary I am honoured to be able to serve Government and commit to maintaining the full degree of energy, integrity and direction required to help the Government achieve its objectives.

Whilst much has already been done, it is incumbent on all public servants, both senior and junior, to ensure we deliver the public services that all Bougainvilleans so richly deserve.

Challenges and Upcoming Priorities

Despite some achievements it is clear that much more needs to be done. Key priorities include:

  • Enhancing engagement to ensure a more joined up approach to Government service delivery;
  • Ensuring effective coordination of donor support so that we can maximize the value of existing international development assistance whilst harnessing new and emerging development opportunities;
  • Ensuring effective community engagement so that our people understand what it is that the Government is doing for them;
  • Ensuring that corporate plans are adhered to and remain reflective of Government objectives;
  • Ensuring that the BEC remains well supported and that submissions reflect whole-of-Government considerations and priorities;
  • Continuing work to undertake urban and town planning activities to enhance infrastructure and housing to address need;
  • Getting the new integrated financial management system in place to deliver more effective, transparent and accountable financial management practices across Government;
  • Continued work on the draw-down of powers to support autonomy;
  • Convening the Revenue and Taxation Summit; and
  • Ensuring that the Bougainville Referendum Commission is fully established and that important stakeholder and community engagement work commences.

Joseph Nobetau Chief Secretary ABG

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Media_Statement_-_Achievements_Joseph_Nobetau_Chief_Secretary_2017

Following my appointment to the Office of Chief Secretary on 17 October 2017, I have been engaged in a process of reform aimed at enhancing the capacity of the Department of President and the BEC and the broader public service.

As Chief Secretary I have engaged extensively with key stakeholders including Ministers, Secretaries, donors, the private sector and civil society. Through this work I have gained valuable insight into the workings of the public sector and the need for change and reform.

The purpose of this statement is to provide the general public with an update of the work that has been undertaken since my appointment, outline the challenges that I see moving forward and to canvass the priorities that are ahead.

Consultations

Ministers

Since commencing as Chief Secretary I have been able to meet with all Ministers. Through these discussions I have gained valuable insight into key ministerial priorities which has in turn informed my work with portfolio Secretaries and keystake holders. These discussions have been invaluable in informing my Department’s broader reform agenda and have assisted with some critical organisational change decisions.

Secretaries

As Chief Secretary I see it as an important part of my role to provide leadership and guidance to Secretaries. Since commencing as Chief Secretary I have convened Senior Management Committee meetings and met one on one with all Secretaries.

In my discussions I have emphasised the President’s key messages around organisational capability and the need to deliver meaningful outcomes with respect to service delivery and public service reform. These discussions have been positive, and whilst there will continue to be some challenges I will continue to ensure that all public servants remain mindful of their need to be accountable and responsive to Government and the people that we serve.

Parliamentary Services

As Chief Secretary I consider it essential that clear lines of communication be in place with the Office of Parliamentary Services. To that end, I have developed a strong working relationship with the Speaker of Parliament with a view to ensuring better links between the public service, the BEC and parliament.

This work is already showing dividends through more effective coordination of public service policy development and programme delivery and parliamentary business.

Community Government

I have been working with the Secretary for Community Government to make changes to Executive Manager arrangements to ensure more responsive community government across Districts. In that context, some immediate changes have already been made to realign resources so that we can better meet the needs of local communities. I will continue to work with the Secretary to ensure that resources at the District level are appropriate so as to enable effective community engagement and service delivery.

International Engagement

International engagement is a critical part of the Chief Secretary role. With significant donor representation in Buka I have reached out to key bilateral and multilateral partners to discuss how donor activities support the work of the ABG and to explore opportunities for more effective engagement and aid coordination. This has included my work as chair of the Australian and New Zealand funded GIF (Governance Implementation Fund) and work with the Australian Funded PNG Governance Facility.

Advisory Support and Donor Engagement

The ABG continues to receive support from a range of donors in relation to the key areas of governance, peace building, health, transport, law and justice and election support. As Chief Secretary I acknowledge the value of this support with a number of key advisers providing advice to my office and across government to progress important initiatives in areas including: recruitment, legal advice and support, draw down of powers, election preparations, media and communication, strategic and corporate planning, economic development, revenue and taxation, urban planning, monitoring and evaluation, financial management and strategic engagement. While in the longer term it is my hope that the ABG will develop the internal capacity to manage these important issues independent of donor support, the support we currently receive has been a critical part of our recent progress.

Aid Coordination

In terms of aid coordination, I continue to engage with key donors regarding how we can target support to get the best possible outcomes. I am of the view that any support must be clearly aligned with ABG priorities and be based on ensuring meaningful capacity building where ABG officers are able to learn from the support provided and manage issues independently in the future. A key future priority will be developing an effective aid coordination mechanism within my Department to ensure the most efficient use of donor support.

Bilateral and Multilateral Engagement

In February 2017 my office coordinated briefing for the visit by NZ Minister for Foreign Affairs the Hon. Murray McCully. The meeting provided a valuable opportunity to talk with a key development partner and friend, with the Foreign Minister committing to ongoing support to the ABG in the lead up to the referendum and beyond.

Vice President Masono hosted a visit by a delegation from the European Union which comprised of the EU Ambassador to PNG, the French Ambassador to PNG and senior officials on 20 February 2017. The visit provided a valuable opportunity to reinforce the ABG’s development priorities and for delegation members to see firsthand some of the challenges that face our young and emerging democracy.

Feedback from the visit was positive, with the EU Ambassador indicating a very strong desire to provide support to Bougainville in key areas including infrastructure, water sanitation and vocational education (amongst others). These are consistent with priorities identified through the PNG-EU dialogue and present opportunities for the ABG to partner with the EU in a number of short to medium term high impact areas. It is hoped that in the near future a delegation led by the Vice President will travel to Port Moresby to meet with senior National Government Officials and the EU Ambassador to explore how this commitment for support can be translated into meaningful action.

Community Engagement

At the community level I have engaged widely with non-Government and volunteer organisations and the education sector. I consider these stakeholders to be essential from a social development perspective.

In December I was honoured to be asked to deliver the keynote address at the Hutjena High School graduation. This was an excellent opportunity for me to deliver a key message on leadership and the value of quality education. My message was that as emerging leaders high school graduates are well placed to make a long term contribution to our economic, social and development goals.

In February I was honoured to speak at the Public Service Dedication Service. I used this as an opportunity to reinforce the need for a responsive public service, noting that planning is the cornerstone of success.

I continue to work with local mainline churches to progress aerial surveys of available land to enhance housing and community infrastructure. This work has included undertaking aerial surveys in Buka, Arawa and Buin to aid town planning, including the potential development of a teachers college in Buin and new housing development in Arawa and Buka.

Organisational Reform

Communication

Communication is the cornerstone of any well-functioning public service. As Chief Secretary my primary aim has been to enhance communication within Government and to our key stakeholders. I have achieved this by chairing Senior Management Committee meetings, engaging with Secretaries and senior leaders, connecting with Districts through radio programmes and working with our civil society partners.

This process is now starting to show results. Department Heads are becoming more engaged and my office has increased visibility of key public sector initiatives.

Despite this it is clear that much more needs to be done, particularly with respect to communicating initiatives to the broader community. In that context I am working with officials in my Department, including my Deputy Secretary, to enhance our media and communication strategy. Whilst there has been some good work in this area many of the initiatives that we need to enhance community awareness have stalled. With the referendum fast approaching this is not acceptable, and a key future priority will be to enhance mechanisms to more effectively communicate with the people.

Corporate Planning

A functional public service requires well thought out policy measures that respond to the needs of Government. This has been lacking in the past. It is clear to me that the public service must be more accountable and responsive.

To that end I have commenced a process to put in place departmental corporate plans. I see these documents as being key to addressing issues of accountability and ministerial expectations. By having in place well thought out plans that reflect Government and ministerial priorities the public service has a means by which to measure whether or not we are meeting core goals and responsibilities. It is my hope that these plans will be finalised in the coming month and that they will in turn help inform the development of a longer term strategic development plan that maps our key development priorities over the years to come.

Recruitment Processes

Open and merit based recruitment processes are an essential part of ensuring that we attract the best and brightest to our public service ranks. I have therefore taken a very close interest in recent recruitment rounds with a view to ensuring that the public service fully adheres to the principles of fair, open and transparent recruitment.

Retrenchments

In late 2016, in consultation with the Secretary for Personnel Management and Administration, arrangements were made to retire a number of officers who had reached the mandatory retirement age. This process was undertaken to ensure compliance with the Public Service Management Act and as part of a broader strategy of ensuring the appropriate resourcing of the public service in the longer term.

Senior leaders Training

As Chief Secretary I have participated in the Australian Government funded senior leaders training which is being conducted by the Queensland University of Technology. I see this training as being a valuable tool through which principles of management can be reinforced, whilst providing an ongoing opportunity for senior leaders to work closely with Ministers.

Overarching MoU on Draw Down of Powers

Work is currently underway to enable the signing of the overarching MoU on the draw-down of powers by the ABG and National Government Public Service Ministers. This will be a critical enabling step in achieving further autonomy.

Financial Management and Elimination of Corruption

Financial Management Systems

In line with the President and Government’s expectations I am heavily focused on financial management and accountability. As Chief Secretary I am conscious of my role in ensuring whole-of-Government financial accountability and working with the Secretary for Finance to enhance our financial management accountability frameworks. In particular, I am actively engaged in work to fast track implementation of the new Integrated Financial Management System within the ABG.

Revenue and Taxation Summit

For some time now it has been proposed that the ABG convene a Revenue and Taxation Summit to review existing revenue raising capacity and to explore means through which the ABG can enhance and consolidate our revenue base.

I am pleased to advise that work in the area is now progressing and that I am working with the Secretary of Finance to convene the summit in the coming months. The summit will provide an opportunity for key stakeholders and subject matter experts to convene.

Referendum Preparations

Bougainville Referendum Commission

On the 24th of January 2017 I travelled to Port Moresby to co-sign the enabling agreement with my national Government counterpart to establish the Bougainville Referendum Commission. The Commission will be an essential mechanism through which the operational management of the referendum will be conducted, and importantly, through which stakeholder and community engagement can occur. I am currently working with the Secretaries for Peace Agreement Implementation and Law and Justice to ensure that all constitutional and organic law requirements have been met prior to the final charter establishing the Commission being signed off by the Governor-General.

Challenges and Upcoming Priorities

Despite some achievements it is clear that much more needs to be done. Key priorities include:

  • Enhancing engagement to ensure a more joined up approach to Government service delivery;
  • Ensuring effective coordination of donor support so that we can maximize the value of existing international development assistance whilst harnessing new and emerging development opportunities;
  • Ensuring effective community engagement so that our people understand what it is that the Government is doing for them;
  • Ensuring that corporate plans are adhered to and remain reflective of Government objectives;
  • Ensuring that the BEC remains well supported and that submissions reflect whole-of-Government considerations and priorities;
  • Continuing work to undertake urban and town planning activities to enhance infrastructure and housing to address need;
  • Getting the new integrated financial management system in place to deliver more effective, transparent and accountable financial management practices across Government;
  • Continued work on the draw-down of powers to support autonomy;
  • Convening the Revenue and Taxation Summit; and
  • Ensuring that the Bougainville Referendum Commission is fully established and that important stakeholder and community engagement work commences.

 

 

 

Joseph Nobetau

Bougainville Mining News : President Momis announces support for the new Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL)

President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government Chief Dr John Momis has announced his support of the new Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) .

The new BCL is step away from the post-colonial and pre-crisis arrangement that had Bougainville at a disadvantage; it is partly owned by the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the National Government, Panguna Landowners and people of Bougainville to develop the defunct Panguna Mine with the landowners for the benefit of Bougainville.

President Momis said the ABG as regulator will work together and support BCL explore alternative Panguna development options that will accommodate the interest of project stakeholders to fast track the development of the Panguna resources.

“Since BCL was invited to formally re-engage in discussions in Bougainville in 2012, the landowners have consistently stated their preference to work with BCL as the developer,” Momis said.

This was recently reaffirmed by the nine (9) Landowner Associations in Buka on 23 February 2017 after the BCL team led by Chairman Rob Burns made presentations to the ABG leaders and the nince landowner association executives and representatives on the new BCL’s development proposal for Panguna.

During that visit the Chairman present to the ABG leaders and the landowners a staed development proposal outlining how different the new Panguna approach will be under the new BCL hich now owned by the ABG, the Panguna landowners, people of Bougainville and the National Government.

Due to the recent majority of shares transferred by the Rio Tinto to ABG and the National Government, the ABG and the landowners now view BCL as not the devil we know but the devil we won.

The ABG and the landowners will now have to take advantage of this scenario and work out a positive strategy for an outcome that will be equitably beneficial for all stakeholders especially the landowners.

The ABG and the landowners have also committed to addressing the immediate challenges to progressing the Panguna project and looks forward to working in partnership with BCL through the project development cycle.

During discussions held this week between the BCL and the ABG, the two parties reaffirmed their commitment in which a way forward can be agreed for the immediate addressing of stage 0- Removing impediments under the BCL proposed staged development proposal presented during 23 – 24 February visit.

In those discussions it was also mentioned for BCL’s consideration to find ways and opportunities in its exploration to project development financing phase to support the ABG’s immediate development agendas as a way of building a long term unwavering development in Panguna.

 

Bougainville Investment News : “We the people own the resources ” Momis promotes investment

 “We the people own the resources, our land however we don’t have the capital.

“The waves of globalization are at our shore , I urge everyone to become part of the worldwide community of globalization.

President Grand Chief Dr John Momis welcomes any interested credible foreign investors who wish to play a pivotal role in the development of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville’s economic growth.

By Tanya Lahies ABG Media

It is becoming a growing concern for the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) to seek ways to grow its economy thus, becoming a self-reliant region.

See previous Bougainville News :

Bougainville Mining News : BCL proposes a re-opening mine start up by 2020

The ABG is currently working on an ad-hoc basis to run the nation’s affairs without the needed funding required from the Government of Papua New Guinea (GoPNG) as per the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) to restore the region according to the dreams and aspiration of the government.

President Momis explained that the government had plans it would like to see prosper through the Economic Ministry which had an important role to implement important activities.

However, due to no funding from ABG, the region was dependant on funds from the National Government through the Restoration Development Grants; Fisheries; DSIP and PSIP.

Bougainville, functions differently from the GoPNG and Provincial Governments. Many of its functions are governed by the BPA and the National Government has still yet to recognize that.

Momis said that becoming a self-reliant region means, that money received from the national government can recover the economy of the region and that it is able to be independent financially, thus become fiscal self reliant however, to date, there is no funding.

But if we continue to depend on the GoPNG finance, then we are not fiscal self reliant said Momis.

As time becomes another pressing concern, Momis is calling for all Bougainvilleans to be true patriots and be part of the spirit of economic growth by working with the government. “We the people own the resources, our land however we don’t have the capital.”

“The waves of globalization are at our shore.” Momis urged for everyone to become part of the worldwide community of globalization.

The ABG is now leaning towards promoting investment and working with credible Investors who can bring in capital based on good understanding and agreement that can benefit both the ABG and the people thus, can create capital that is very essential at the moment.

Law and order is an impediment to encouraging good investors but we can overcome and find a way to overcome it, Momis added.

Another issue that needed the attention of the people was the paying of tax by business operators. Momis also urged for all business houses in the region to pay their tax, as it was an important contribution towards building economy.

The Ministry of Economy will now work on creating a new policy that would benefit the people in rural areas therefore helping people to create their own economy.

Bougainville Mining News : BCL proposes a re-opening mine start up by 2020

panguna

  ” Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), under a new regime, is keen on re-opening the Panguna mine with promises of more equitable sharing of wealth with landowners and the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

Company chairman Robert Burns was in Buka last week and met with Bougainville cabinet ministers and landowner groups to put forward BCL’s proposals for start-up by year 2020.”

Panguna talks re-open Source: Post Courier
Date: March 01,2017, 01:39 am BY SEBASTIAN HAKALITS Image Axel Mosi

According to BCL’s proposals on full operations from 2020 and beyond, it will inject US$350 million (K1 billion) a year to the Bougainville Government.

BCL has projected to pay about US$25 million (about K70 million a year) to the nine landowner associations to distribute among themselves.

The details of the BCL forward plans for Panguna were made at a presentation by the company recently.

BCL operated the Panguna mine for 18 years as a subsidiary company of Rio Tinto until it was shut down by the infamous Bougainville crisis from 1988 to 1999.

But the company was under a new regime after Rio Tinto left and during the process, off-loaded its majority of 53 per cent shares, of which a majority of 36 per cent belongs to Bougainvilleans, to the ABG.

The National Government owns 19 per cent, Panguna landowners 17 per cent and the rest other shareholders in Europe.

Mr Burns said in his presentation that BCL would engage with the ABG and landowners to fast-track and remove the impending issues to “create something very special for Bougainville”.

He said the company was ready and very much interested and committed to access Panguna and carry out the activities of feasibility and environmental studies before re-developing the mine. But he insisted that the ABG must support the company in its endeavours to remove any impediments so that it can have easy access to the Panguna mine area.

Article 2

Source: Post Courier
Date: March 01,2017, 01:39 am

BY SEBASTIAN HAKALITS

BOUGAINVILLE Minister for Minerals and Energy Resources Robin Wilson says Panguna mine is the single largest project that can move Bougainville forward.

Mr Wilson said it would ease financial hardships for landowners of Panguna and Bougainville, therefore, it was in their interest to re-open the mine. He was speaking during the presentation by Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) of its future plans for Panguna mine. Mr Wilson urged the landowners re-open, adding. “you have the veto power and whatever decision you make must be for the good of the whole of Bougainville”.

“Let’s have one voice and move forward,” Mr Wilson said at the BCL presentation that was later graced with the initial payment of K5 million to two landowner associations in outstanding 1989 to 1990 compensation payments.

The other seven groups will be paid after completing the compiling and verifying names of families. They will be

Comments

Peter Quodling

With all due respect to the original author Article 1 above

there is a glaring technical inaccuracy in this.

Firstly, There was no “new Regime” at RIO that saw it divest it’s sharing holding.

Secondly, it didn’t “offload” them, it gifted them equally between GovPNG and ABG. and 36% is not a majority.

Thirdly the statement “The National Government owns 19 per cent, Panguna landowners 17 per cent and the rest other shareholders in Europe.” is wrong – the national government no longer owns just the 19% it was originally gifted, It now owns 36.4% of the BCL Shareholding, exactly the same as the ABG.

Fourthly, The Panguna Landowners do not own 17% at all (there might be some residual token individual shareholdings),

Fifthly. “the rest other shareholders in Europe” – well, that is just as wrong – while there are some vocal European shareholders that made some speculative investments in BCL stock, they certainly do not comprise the “rest” in fact, in the top 20 shareholders (a matter of public record) the lion’s share are institutional investors (JP Morgan, Citicorp, HSBC, ABN-AMRO), with the only significant European holding being a german chap, with a shareholding of about 1.1M shares (or 0.29% of the total)

There are issues in relation to the ownership/equity and operation of mining operations that could be structured to give the people (and government) of bougainville significant leverage moving forward in this. I have offered (through channels) to consult to Pres Momis on this, but he chooses to ignore.

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

Momis

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

Letter from Bougainville President to PM of PNG

Dear Prime Minister,

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

PNG Panguna decision under mines Bougainville’s autonomy say Momis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I await your response.

Yours sincerely,

John L. Momis

President, ARoB

 

 

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

timthumb

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

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

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

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

Hon. Jimmy Miringtoro, OBE MP Press Release

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hon. Jimmy Miringtoro, OBE MP

 

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

PNG ON

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

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

That is the best outcome that we could gain.

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

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

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

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

Extract from Ramumine

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

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

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

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

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

See Full interview Below

Text of PM Speech

Mr Speaker,

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

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

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

Mr Speaker,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ok Tedi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr Speaker,

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

Making them one of the richest provinces in the country.

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

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

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

That fund belongs to the people of Western Province.

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

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

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

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

LNG Producing Provinces

Mr Speaker,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr Speaker,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mr. Speaker,

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

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

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

Bougainville Copper Limited

Mr Speaker,

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

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

That is the best outcome that we could gain.

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

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

This includes the continued roll-out of services.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

Mr Speaker,

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

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

These are historical policy interventions by our Government.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you Mr Speaker.

Interview With John Momis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bougainville News : Momis says PNG relations are at an all time low

Momi Pon 

The PM fails dismally to respect the Peace Agreement, over mining, grant payments, and transfer of powers. Under his leadership, relations between Bougainville and the National Government are at an all-time low. The future of peace is now truly under threat.

“This is the most serious dispute ever between the two governments. I am offering the PM a last opportunity to resolve the dispute. I want a meeting with him no later than next week.”

Bougainville President, John Momis has expressed fury at the Prime Minister’s announcement

That 17.4% BCL equity recently transferred to PNG by Rio Tinto will be given to landowners and Bougainville’s people. The PM said he deliberately decided that way so that the ‘ABG does not control the shares’.

The President said he was angry because it’s the ABG that speaks for the people of Bougainville, and cannot be excluded by the PM. Further, the transfer of 17.4% the landowners is worth little. The ABG Mining Law gives them full decision-making involvement and a good revenue share if mining resumes.

“The future of Panguna is Bougainville’s most sensitive issue. I have explained to the PM several times why it is vital the ABG holds the Rio shares in BCL. He has rejected my advice. He is interfering in Bougainville. He acts in the same high-handed manner as the colonial administration and BCL when the mine began. That caused the Bougainville crisis.

“The Bougainville Peace Agreement says autonomy aims for Bougainville to find solutions to its own problems. The ABG is the government for Bougainville for all matters where powers are transferred. All mining powers have been transferred. So all mining decisions are matters for the ABG.

“If we cannot resolve the issue, the Mining Minister will use the power under the ABG law to cancel BCL’s exploration licence under the Bougainville Mining Act over the area of the previous Panguna SML. Notice has already been given to BCL to show cause why the licence should not be cancelled.

“That licence is BCL’s only major asset. Cancellation would make all BCL shares almost worthless. That includes the 19.2% BCL equity PNG has held since 1972. If the ABG is to remain in control of Bougainville mining we have no choice.

“Bougainville’s MPs must now show leadership and end their shameful silence on this issue. They must advise the PM to transfer the shares to the ABG.

“ABG action to cancel the licence will not reduce Panguna-lease landowner involvement in decisions about Panguna, or sharing in revenue if the mine does re-open. That’s because the Bougainville Mining Act gives those landowners full power to say no to grant of a mining licence. So they will be fully involved in all decisions on mine re-opening.

“The Act also guarantees landowners 5% equity (free carry) in the mining operating company. That will be worth much more than the PM’s 17.4% because re-opening will cost K20 billion, dramatically diluting all existing equity. Our Act guarantees a valuable share in the fully funded mine. The PNG 17.4% gives a small minority shareholding in a company now worth very little.

“The PM is not telling the truth.”

 

Bougainville Referendum News : A pledge by Bougainville leaders to work together

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” All four national Members: Hon Joseph Lera, Minister for Bougainville Affairs, Jimmy Miringtoro, Minister for Communications, Hon Louta Atoi, member for North Bougainville and the recently elected MP for South Bougainville Hon Timothy Masiu  all took turns to air and share their views on the importance of consultations and commitment to work together on matters concerning Bougainville.

The pledge expresses a desire for everyone to be on the same page in implementing the terms and intentions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, a historical joint creation borne out of the efforts of the National Government and Bougainville’s political and factional leaders.”

Photo above : All four Bougainville national MPs with visiting members of Bougainville’s parliamentary committee on referendum after the Pledge

Autonomous Region of Bougainville’s four elected members in the National Parliament have come together, have spoken with one voice and have pledged they will work closely with the Bougainville’s Members of the House of Representatives.

In a small, unassuming but important, meeting over dinner hosted by the Minister for Bougainville Affairs on Thursday evening 11 August the four Bougainvillean national MPs made an unequivocal pledge that they will work with Bougainville parliamentarians in consulting, advising, sharing, working with each other and taking part in all matters of political, social and developmental interest and concern to Bougainville.

The main guests at the evening dinner gathering were members of the Bougainville House of Representatives committee on Referendum led by its Chairman Hon Joseph Watawi MHR.

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Photo above :At PNG Parliament Minister Joe Lera MP and Chairman Joseph Watawi MHR both with other colleague members.

The committee was in Port Moresby to observe the National Parliament in session and meet with the National Parliament bipartisan committee on Bougainville matters including referendum.

The joy and exchanges of pleasantries was most obvious. At long last! It is done!

There is more than one reason to expect there will be a lot of trust and cooperation from hereon between and amongst Bougainville politicians at the National level and in the Autonomous Region.

All four national Members: Hon Joseph Lera, Minister for Bougainville Affairs, Jimmy Miringtoro, Minister for Communications, Hon Louta Atoi, member for North Bougainville and the recently elected MP for South Bougainville Hon Timothy Masiu  all took turns to air and share their views on the importance of consultations and commitment to work together on matters concerning Bougainville.

A timely and proper, in-depth, educated and adequately funded awareness on referendum was discussed as one of the most important matters needing immediate focus and attention for concerted, cooperative approach by leaders.

The visiting members of the House of Representatives Parliamentary Committee on Referendum led by its Chairman Hon Joseph Watawi also spoke in turns all expressing delight that the undertaking for the Bougainville political leaders to work together is most welcome. Members of the committee that spoke and shared the same sentiments included Hon Marcelline Kokiai MHR, Hon Thomas Tari MHR, and Hon Tepaia  MHR

The people of Bougainville as electors will find comfort, confidence and assurance and can only benefit from the undertaking by their political leaders. Bougainvilleans have often criticized their politicians  for not working together on matters that can make a difference with better political cooperation  and coordination at the elected leadership level.

The four MPs representing Bougainville in the National Parliament have pledged that they will, from hereon, work with members of the Bougainville House of Representatives in the interest of all facets of development of Bougainville. The pledge expresses a desire for everyone to be on the same page in implementing the terms and intentions of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, a historical joint creation borne out of the efforts of the National Government and Bougainville’s political and factional leaders.

After a number of attempts over many elections on both sides, many exchanges and  suggestions, to-ing and fro-ing, and at times laying blame from both sides, this is an achievement by Bougainville parliamentarians in both Houses to come to terms and put aside any differences in their commitment and approach on the ongoing political processes that requires their attention and decision.

The agreement pledged by the leaders followed two consultative meetings with the Minister for Bougainville Affairs and Chairman Watawi and members of his committee at Parliament House.

The Minister Hon Joe Lera said the National Coordination Office for Bougainville Affairs (NCOBA) which he heads as Minister has made a lot of effort to give practical effect to the roles and functions and fulfill the objective why this Office was established in the first place. With his intervention and better focus by the staff, NCOBA will be the primary coordination link between Bougainville and Port Moresby. His first task has been to get his colleagues the Bougainville national MPs to work in closer consultation with him through NCOBA.

The Speaker Simon Pentanu who accompanied the referendum committee delegation in his remarks  praised and thanked the national MPs for this development calling it remarkable because  he said it will see, in a long time, a meaningful consultative effort and cooperation by Bougainville parliamentarians at the national level and on Bougainville.

He said he will be inviting the four national MPs and expect them to take their seats in the House of Representatives in the forthcoming meeting in September and at all subsequent meetings of the House. He also said that from now on the dates of meetings of the Bougainville Parliament will be determined so they do not clash with National Parliament meetings to enable the four National MPs to attend.

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Photo Above : Meeting with PNG Parliamentary committee on Bougainville Matters and referendum, with UNDP and agencies invited as observers.

Hon Ministers Joseph Lera also informed the dinner meeting NCOBA is improving its coordinating role and under his watch he expects to deliver on the aims and objectives for which this Ministry for Bougainville was established.  His colleague national MPs praised and agreed with Minister Lera that since he assumed office as the Minister there has been enthusiasm, zest and zeal about the place.

Speaking for and on behalf of the parliamentary committee and his colleague MHRs Mr Watawi said that such a pledge between leaders has been some time coming. He said the pledge to work and stay together is like a bridge has now been built that Bougainville leaders can walk along together and cross both ways

Bougainville Mining News Alert : President Momis speech July 20 to House of Representatives about Rio Tinto

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” The PNG National Government also has serious responsibilities for the mine legacy issues. They received the biggest share of the mine revenues. As a result I expect the National Government to support the ABG as strongly as possible in applying the heaviest possible pressure on Rio Tinto to accept its responsibilities.

In addition, I demand that the National Government also accept responsibility to contribute to the costs of clean-up and other legacy issues.

We propose to discuss these matters fully in the special Joint Supervisory Body meeting we are demanding be held as soon as possible.I am calling on the members of this House, and the people of Bougainville, and all our supporters, to join us in an international campaign to force Rio Tinto to accept its responsibilities in Bougainville.”

20 JULY 2016 HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES – SPECIAL MEETING

STATEMENT (EDITED/REVISED) BY PRESIDENT JOHN MOMIS

RIO TINTO’S DECISION TO DIVEST ITS BCL SHARES, AND DENY RESPONSIBILITY FOR PANGUNA MINE LEGACY ISSUES

Mr. Speaker:

As the President, representing all Bougainvilleans, I welcome this historic meeting of Bougainville’s representative government. It is an historic meeting because we have called it to discuss deeply evil and unjust decisions about the source of the longest running problems and injustices in Bougainville – that is, the operation of the Panguna copper and gold mine.

The decisions involve the huge international mining giant, Rio Tinto. That company has decided to end its majority shareholding in Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL). It has also decided to deny all responsibility for Panguna mine legacy issues.

All members of the House must be fully informed about the issues involved in these decisions by Rio. I also want you to be informed about the consistent stand taken by me, and my government on the issues involved here. So I have directed that all members be provided with a full set of documents going back to early 2014.

Some Bougainville leaders and others – mostly people with their own economic interests in mining and a few outsiders who demonstrate deep ignorance of Bougainville – have claimed that I have some sort of link to BCL or Rio Tinto. But as I am sure you all know, that is complete nonsense.

Since the late 1960s, I have been a consistent supporter of justice for Panguna mine lease landowners. I have never changed that position. Even when I became President in mid-2010, I supported looking for alternative investors. But I was eventually – and to some extent reluctantly – persuaded by the many leaders representing the Panguna lease landowners that they preferred to deal with what they called the ‘devil that they knew’. That was BCL. Their reason was that they believed that BCL accepted some responsibility for the conflict and for mine legacy issues.

Technical advice supported the landowner view. BCL (with Rio Tinto as majority shareholder) returning to Panguna and accepting responsibility offered the best way to make sure an environmental clean-up would occur and that other legacy issues would be resolved. In addition, international treaties that the ABG is bound by would make expropriation of companies very difficult.

As you all know, this was not a matter of me, as President, or the ABG, forcing re-opening of Panguna against the wishes of the mine lease landowners, or the wishes of Bougainvilleans more generally.

Of course, there are some landowners and some Bougainvilleans from elsewhere, who do not want mining.

But there is also no doubt that the ongoing consultation by successive Presidents – Kabui, Tanis and Momis – and successive ABGs under the leadership of all three, demonstrates broad support for re-opening of the mine. That involves strong majority support from landowners of the mine lease areas, as well as Bougainvilleans from all three regions.

Re-opening Panguna is generally recognised as the best way to achieve not only a clean-up of Panguna and the tailings, but also to fund economic development for the Panguna and tailings areas, and to provide the funding needed for Bougainville to have either real autonomy or independence. And, of course, the ongoing refusal of the National Government to fund the ABG as required by the Peace Agreement has cemented that support for large-scale mining resuming. As the recent debate in this House on whether the 1971 moratorium on new mining exploration and development shows, our people and leaders have become very frustrated with PNG government failure to honour its funding commitments to the ABG and to Bougainville.

None of this means that the ABG is happy with the way that BCL and Rio have operated in Bougainville in the past – quite the opposite. As a result, we have insisted on the strongest conditions – that any future mining at Panguna must be under completely new conditions. Those fair and just conditions are laid down in our Bougainville Mining Act. In addition, we insisted that BCL have only an exploration licence over the former SML. Under our Mining Act BCL lost all other rights. That was part of the reasons why Rio decided to with draw from Panguna.

So I ask all members to accept the simple truth. That is, that the ABG has taken a strong and consistent stand in support of the rights of the people of Bougainville.

Let me now tell you more about the recent Rio Tinto decisions, and the strong responses by my Government since those decisions were communicated to us.

Representatives of Rio Tinto asked me at very short notice to go to a meeting with them in Port Moresby on the evening of Wednesday 29th June. They said it was to discuss the then ongoing review by Rio of its equity in its majority-owned subsidiary, Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL). That review had begun in August 2014, in response to the ABG Transitional Mining Act. Beyond that brief notification, I had no indication of the subject of the meeting.

The senior Rio employee advised me of the company’s decision of the outcome of the review of its majority 53.8 per cent ownership of Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL). Rio’s main decisions were:

First, to transfer its shares at no cost, 36.4 per cent to the ABG to hold on behalf of the people of Bougainville, and 17.4 per cent to PNG, which would result in the two governments being equal shareholders in BCL, with 36.4 per cent equity each;

Second, that Rio believes the company has no responsibility to fix up the extensive legacy issues arising from the operation of the mine

I am deeply concerned by both aspects of the Rio decisions. In relation to the shares transfer, Rio provides just one justification. In the Rio press release of 30 June 2016 the company says that equal ownership ‘ensures both parties are equally involved in any consideration and decision-making around the future of the Panguna mine’. In our meeting on the 29th, the Rio people even talked to me about the Rio decision being intended to encourage co-operation between the two governments!!!

In relation to legacy issues, they gave just two reasons for denying any responsibility. One is that BCL operated the mine under the then applicable PNG law. The other is that BCL was forced to end mining, and lost its investment at Panguna, by Bougainvilleans opposed to mining.

My government, and all Bougainvilleans, oppose the 17.4 per cent shares in BCL being transferred by Rio to the PNG government. The justification for the transfer advanced by Rio has no basis.

Rio is well aware that the ABG has previously accepted PNG retaining its original 19 per cent equity in BCL. That ensures that in any event PNG has an ongoing role in any major decision-making about the future of the Panguna mine.

Further, we need no guidance from Rio about cooperating with the National Government. We negotiated the Bougainville Peace Agreement with the National Government, and we continue to our attempts to improve our cooperation with the National Government. We need no advice on such matters from Rio Tinto. In saying their offer of shares to PNG is intended to encourage cooperation is an insult to the ABG.

Of much greater concern is the fact that in two meetings with Rio Tinto representatives in July 2015 and February 2016, I advised in the strongest terms about the dangers to the Bougainville Peace Agreement should PNG get control of BCL through receipt of shares (should the Rio equity review result in divestment of the shares in BCL). Rio has simply ignored that advice.

Equal PNG shareholding with the ABG raises the same grave dangers for the future of peace in Bougainville. Moreover, its decision on allocating shares was clearly made in close consultation with PNG, and without consulting the ABG. Perhaps they both forgot that the mineral resources BCL was established to mine are located in Bougainville. Perhaps they forgot that Bougainville is autonomous, and has full power over mining.

Before we deal with anything else, let’s be clear on one thing. That is, that the Panguna mine generated huge profits for Rio Tinto – and also massive revenues for PNG. All loans for the cost of setting up the Panguna mine were repaid by BCL in its first three years of operating.

 

So while it is true that mine closure resulted in Rio losing its investment at Panguna, that investment was by then already repaid many times over. And how was it paid? By Rio digging up and selling Bougainville’s minerals, and by doing that without regard to the terrible impacts on the people of the mine lease areas.

The mine also generated huge revenues for the second largest shareholder in BCL – the PNG National Government. Of course, PNG was the regulator and taxing body as well.

Figures provided in a 1991 book written by BCL’s former Managing Director, Paul Quodling, shows that total mine revenues between 1972 and 1989 were distributed as follows:

For the National Government, 61.46 per cent of total revenues – over K1 billion at a time when the Kina was worth 8 or 10 times more than it is now;

Other private investors received K577 million, or 32.9 per cent of total revenues – which means Rio and the small private investors who held 27.2 per cent equity also received significant revenues;

For the North Solomons Provincial Government (on behalf of the people of Bougainville), just K75 million, or 4.28 per cent of total revenues;

For the mine-lease landowners, just K24 million, which was an insulting 1.37 per cent of the total revenues. We all know that the mine was forced on Bougainvilleans, very much against the wishes of the landowners of the lease areas. It was established and operated under grossly unfair conditions. Landowner of the mine lease areas, and of adjacent areas, suffered massive mine impacts.

Yet they received what is now clearly acknowledged as a grossly unfair amount of compensation. The mine was closed as a result of action by landowners, mine workers, and people from adjacent areas.

They wanted BCL and the National Government to negotiate a new basis for mining – one that would be much fairer for both landowners and the rest of Bougainville. They had no intention to close the mine permanently. It was the brutal violence of PNG police mobile squads, and later PNGDF elements, that turned the conflict into a far wider uprising.Now, 27 years on, it is the landowners of the mine lease areas and adjacent areas that are dealing with terrible legacy issues.

They include immense and environmental damage caused by:

the huge mine pit;

the nearby unstable tailings dumps and the large ‘lakes’ behind some of them;

the destruction of the Kawerong and lower Jaba rivers by dumping of billions of tonnes of overburden and mine tailings;

a massive delta of tailings that juts 15 kilometres into the sea on the west coast of Bougainville;

deteriorating chemical storage areas;

and so on.

 

This is complete hypocrisy!It is grossly unjust – completely unacceptable – for Rio to now refuse any responsibility for the long-term impacts of the operations of its subsidiary, BCL.

They told me they can walk away because they operated the mine under the PNG legal standards of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. But it was clear in the 1980s, at least, that the standards of the day were appalling.

It was the injustice of those terrible standards that caused the conflict. The whole point of the wonderful ‘corporate social responsibility standards’ and ‘sustainable development’ principles that Rio claims to subscribe to, is that mining companies accept that their responsibilities go well beyond prevailing legal requirements.

Further, it is a grave misrepresentation to claim that the Panguna mine was closed by Bougainvillean opponents of mining.Yet Rio Tinto held on for 27 years, from 1989 to 2016, always hoping it could come back and make more profits. So why has Rio decided to walk now? It is mainly because of its own assessments of how it can best use its financial resources to make more profits.

It has large copper and other mining projects in other parts of the world where it assesses it can better use the US$8 billion needed to reopen Panguna.In addition, low commodity prices and sovereign risk issues of investing in Bougainville have contributed to the Rio Tinto decisions.

Those same issues mean that it is now increasingly unlikely that the Panguna mine will re-open in the short to medium term, and perhaps even beyond that. Those facts make the legacy issues even more important.

How will the legacy issues get dealt with now? The ABG does not have the resources needed.Rio Tinto is the parent company of the mine operator, BCL, that generated so much revenue that the mine was the ‘jewel’ in the Rio Tinto ‘crown’.

For the historical reasons that I have just discussed, Panguna never had a proper mine closure program. If the parent company wants to leave now, it has serious mine closure responsibilities, just as it would in a normal mine closure situation, arising when a mineral resource is exhausted, or no longer profitable.

The PNG National Government also has serious responsibilities for the mine legacy issues. They received the biggest share of the mine revenues. As a result I expect the National Government to support the ABG as strongly as possible in applying the heaviest possible pressure on Rio Tinto to accept its responsibilities.

In addition, I demand that the National Government also accept responsibility to contribute to the costs of clean-up and other legacy issues.

We propose to discuss these matters fully in the special Joint Supervisory Body meeting we are demanding be held as soon as possible.I am calling on the members of this House, and the people of Bougainville, and all our supporters, to join us in an international campaign to force Rio Tinto to accept its responsibilities in Bougainville.

We will discuss the possible approaches to such an international campaign later. But I have already begun by a letter to the International Council of Mining and Metals – a mining industry association that Rio belongs to.

The letter calls on that Council to investigate Rio’s departure from Bougainville as a failure to honour that council’s sustainable development principles. As this body is no more than a mining industry association, we probably cannot rely on it to do much. But the letter is a start to raising international awareness of the shameful decisions that Rio Tinto has made.But let’s go back now to the BCL shares issue.Mr. Speaker:

As I have made clear in the past, the ABG does have important protections available under the Bougainville Mining Act. The main protection arises where there are dealings in more than 25 per cent of the shares of a company holding an exploration licence.

Then the ABG Secretary for Mining must initiate proceedings to terminate the licence. BCL’s only Bougainville tenement is an Exploration Licence over the area of its former SML. So a notice of termination will be served on BCL shortly. If the National Government continues to hold the 17.4 per cent equity in BCL transferred from Rio Tinto, termination of the licence will certainly occur.

The key issue here is not the re-opening of Panguna, or any commercial considerations about investment in Panguna. No – the key issue is the future of peace.

If the National Government agrees to the ABG holding the full former 53.8 per cent Rio Tinto equity in BCL, it will be clear that the National Government agrees to Bougainville having full control of decisions about Panguna and the future of mining in Bougainville. That will help change views of the National Government amongst Bougainvilleans. It will end what is now the deep suspicion that in the lead-up to the Referendum, that the National Government is seeking to keep control over Bougainville’s affairs.

Yet as I have informed the Prime Minister in my letters to him since 30 June and my meeting with him on 2nd July, the distribution of Rio Tinto’s shares offers a remarkable opportunity to help end the problems, divisions and conflict for good. It can be done in ways that directly benefit both the National Government and Bougainville.

The issues here are not just symbolic. There are also major practical concerns. In particular, the Peace Agreement gives Bougainvilleans a right to freely choose their political future in the forthcoming Referendum. If the National Government insists on having equal control of Panguna through ownership of BCL shares, Bougainvilleans will undoubtedly believe that it is trying to maintain its financial control of Bougainville. That appearance alone is a grave threat to the faith of our people in the Peace Agreement.

The readiness of at least some in the National Government to accept Rio Tinto’s initiative to place PNG in equal control of BCL, and therefore of Panguna, raises a grave threat to peace in Bougainville, and peace between Bougainville and Papua New Guinea.

Panguna involves the most sensitive issues for all Bougainvilleans. They are deeply emotional and highly symbolic – for all of us. They are at the heart of the problems, divisions and conflict in Bougainville, which are not yet fully resolved.

For all Bougainvilleans, the idea that the National Government hold either majority or equal shares in BCL involves a totally unacceptable degree of control over decisions on the future of mining. This is where we face the danger to the Peace Agreement, and to the whole peace process.

For the National Government to have equal equity in BCL with the ABG is equally unacceptable.

There is a deep history of conflict and bitterness in Bougainville over the impacts of the Panguna mine. As members will see from the documents distributed to all members of this House, since 2014 I have been advising the Prime Minister, in the strongest terms, that it is impossible for Bougainvilleans to accept National Government control of Panguna through control of BCL. I gave the same advice to Rio Tinto officials in my two earlier meetings with them.

 

Its main reason for not following those principles here is that when BCL was doing the terrible damage that generated its profits, it was following the laws of the time. But clearly those laws were completely contrary to those same wonderful principles it claims to honour now.

But according to Rio the admirable principles that it now so proudly follows do not apply in Bougainville!!

By it’s own standards, Rio Tinto cannot realistically think it can just walk away from its responsibilities at Panguna. Since 1989, in part because of recognising how its very inadequate operating standards contributed to the Bougainville conflict, Rio Tinto (and other major mining companies) have adopted much improved corporate social responsibility and sustainable development standards. Rio Tinto now publicly claims to operate under those standards, world-wide.

It’s true that Rio and its subsidiary, BCL, lost assets and funds and sources of profits when the mine closed. But it’s also true that the landowners and the coalition of other Bougainville groups working with them were not seeking permanent mine-closure. Rather, they were desperately trying to get the National Government and BCL to listen to their pleas for justice. If their pleas had already been heard, the Bougainville conflict would never have occurred.

Rio says that they obeyed the laws of the time. But they know full well that those laws were unjust. What’s more, we know that BCL also understood the injustice at that time. That’s because BCL management was more open than the National Government to the arguments for change that were coming from the landowners and the Provincial Government in the 1980s.

What I am describing here is just a small part of the terrible consequences that our people are living with as a result of the mine. This is the same mine that put so much money into the pockets of the National Government, Rio Tinto, and a few others amongst the small shareholders in BCL. Yet they deny any responsibility for the damage that they did while generating that money.

At Morotona, where the Jaba River mouth people were relocated, there are major land and resource tensions between the large number of settlers, and the increased numbers of the host community. The original settler houses were flooded out years ago. Those people now live in basic bush material houses, with very little gardening land, no access to sak sak, no water tanks. Their drinking water comes from polluted soaks in the ground, contributing to their suffering many health problems.

The houses of the villages in the SML were all destroyed by the police in 1989. They now live in houses rebuilt from scrap. Their garden areas are miles away. Their water and sewage arrangements are hopeless. In Moroni, the septic tanks have been full to the brim for years. When it rains, raw pek pek (sewage) runs through the village.

Conditions for those relocated village people are far worse in 2016 than they were in the 1980s. Numbers in the relocated villages have grown dramatically. So they are much more overcrowded and have even less resources than in the 1980s.

The people of the many villages relocated by BCL – against their wishes – live in the most terrible conditions. This involves villages such as Moroni, Dapera, Pirurari, Kuneka and the Jaba river mouth. Today, the ongoing loss of their land and relocation to new village sites means we are talking here about many thousands of people. They lost not just their land for houses, but also land for gardening, timber, sak sak for roofing, and so on – all the resources of their land. They were forced into tightly packed areas with inadequate housing that was not maintained by BCL. No provision was made for rising populations and newly married couples. So there was terrible overcrowding. BCL ignored our Melanesian cultural values of deep respect for ol tambu. In-laws were forced to live in the same houses.

Fish life in the Kawerong and Jaba rivers, and also in all the many rivers and creeks that run into them, has been dead for 40 years. The levy banks built by BCL to contain the flooding of nearby areas arising as the bed of the Jaba river rose (because of the depositing of vast amounts of tailings) were breached by flood waters over 15 years ago. River water polluted by acid leached from the crushed tailings now floods huge areas of our people’s land all along the lower Jaba.

When I met the Prime Minister on Saturday 2nd July, I was not aware that the National Government had already accepted the transfer of 17.4 per cent equity from Rio Tinto.

I was initially reassured that he understood the serious dangers involved in the National Government accepting the 17.4 per cent equity. I believed that he understood our concerns and was ready to consider the shares coming to Bougainville.

But later that day, I received the information that the National Government had already accepted transfer of the shares. I immediately wrote to the Prime Minister, demanding that the shares be transferred to Bougainville.

I became much more concerned by the statement of the former Minister responsible, Mr. Ben Micah, reported in the Post Courier of 12 July. He alleged that the negotiations with Rio Tinto about equity transfer had been under direction of the Prime Minister. Micah said that he had ‘been in discussions with Rio together with the Prime Minister and we have kept Mr. Momis abreast of our discussions’.

If there was cooperation between the Prime Minister and Mr. Micah, that would be very worrying. But more importantly, it is completely untrue that the Prime Minister and Mr. Micah have kept me advised of their discussions. To say so is a complete lie. My last discussion with them was in December 2015. At that time I was advising them of the ABG’s strong opposition to the National Government taking over the Rio Tinto’s 53.8 per cent equity in BCL. (They were then proposing to pay Rio Tinto US$100 million for those shares.) I also opposed their argument that the ABG say nothing about Rio having responsibility for environmental and other legacy issues. They feared that such concerns could damage their ‘commercial negotiations’ with Rio Tinto. My last communication with them on the issues was my letter to the Prime Minister of 10 December 2015, a copy of which is in the documents provided to all members.

Since then I have not had a single word from them about their thinking about the BCL shares. If, as Mr. Micah says, they have kept working on this, then they have done it in complete secrecy, with not a word to me or the ABG. That secrecy in unacceptable to Bougainville, for they are playing with rights to Bougainville’s resources as if the issues do not have anything to do with Bougainville.

But in a response to my letter to the Prime Minister of 3rd July, received through his Chief of Staff, the Prime Minister provided assurances to me that:

  1. He was not aware of the acceptance by National Government-owned company Petromin, of the transfer of the 17.4 per cent equity; and
  2. He was willing to ask the NEC to re-consider the issue of that transfer of the equity.

Whatever happened in negotiations between PNG and Rio Tinto, my demand is that the Prime Minister honours his most recent assurances. So he must ensure the earliest possible decision to transfer the 17.4 per cent equity to the ABG.

If that does not occur, then the relationship between the ABG and the National Government, indeed, between Bougainville and Papua New Guinea, will come under terrible pressure.

I wrote to the Prime Minister again on Monday 18th July, strongly advising him that he now has an opportunity to end the tension developing over the shares issues. In a single move, he can develop a new and more positive relationship between his government and Bougainville. A copy of that letter is the last of the set of documents provided to all members.

I have urged the Prime Minister to resolve the issues, once and for all. I have asked him to do so in advance of the motion of no confidence on Friday 22nd July. This is an opportunity for him to counter allegations against the Prime Minister and his government. He can send a strong signal to the whole country of his creative and unifying leadership, and of hope for the future.

In my letter to the Prime Minister of 3rd July, I also demanded the earliest possible meeting of the Joint Supervisory Body to deal with the Rio decisions. That means dealing with both the shares issue, and the mine legacy issues. I am insisting that the National Government both take its share of responsibility for those issues, and support the ABG in its strong actions to apply pressure on Rio Tinto to take its responsibility for the long-term damage it caused by its profit-making.

In that JSB, we will also raise PNG’s responsibility to contribute to what will undoubtedly be the huge cost of dealing with mine legacy issues. PNG owes a huge debt to Bougainville. That arises not only from the massive financial contribution to PNG independence from Panguna, but also from its cocoa and copra production over many years, and from ol save man blo yumi, who contributed so much to PNG both before and after Independence. Now is the time for that debt to be honoured, so that the mine lease landowners –  the people who suffered most in the making of that contribution – are  not forgotten, not left in misery!!

 

I am yet to receive any response from the Prime Minister to my demand, made on 3rd July, for holding an urgent Joint Supervisory Body meeting

 

Mr. Speaker:

Bougainville has come full circle. We are back to where we were in 1997, at the beginning of the peace process. Then we were deeply divided. Only by unifying and working together could we successfully negotiate the Peace Agreement.

 

But in the period since the BPA was signed, it has become clear that some divisions remain. We have two groups of Me’ekamui people that oppose one another in claiming to be the true government of Bougainville. The leader of U-Vistract a failed Ponzi fraud scheme claims to head a kingdom of Papa’ala, that he says is somehow in charge of Bougainville.

 

We have small outside mining interests, with very poor track records, that have linked up with small Bougainville factions. We have a greedy adviser to a silly landowner leaders, causing new divisions. We have a small group now of 7 or 8 former combatants from outside the Panguna area claiming that they will decided what happens there.

We even have a supposedly educated Bougainvillean, who has been outside Bougainville for years, now coming back and trying to scare our people with false ‘awareness’ campaigns, telling complete lies. They include claims that the Bougainville Mining Act is against the people. She tells former combatants that the amnesty under the Peace Agreement will end in 2020, and that they will then face the death penalty under PNG Law.

 

What nonsense! The Mining Law offers the most complete protection to landowners – more than any mining law anywhere in the world. And the amnesty and pardon will not end in 2020. They are provided fully under the Peace Agreement and the PNG Constitution, and will continue beyond 2020, whatever happens. Awareness cannot be created by a person with complete ignorance of the truth.

 

Mr. Speaker:

We, the true leaders or the only true government of Bougainville, must unite against these unfortunate, deluded, and irresponsible people who are seeking their own advantage by sowing division and confusion. Only by uniting can we make real progress in the next stage of our efforts to build lasting peace in Bougainville.

 

So, members, I am asking you, as the elected leaders of Bougainville, to work with me to unite the people of Bougainville around two main issues.

 

First, we must unite in demanding that the whole of the Rio 53.8 per cent shareholding in BCL be transferred to the ABG.

 

Second, we must unite in developing the strongest possible international campaign to apply all necessary pressure on Rio Tinto to accept its mine legacy issues such as the needs of relocated villages. At the same time we must work to persuade the National Government to accept its responsibilities for Panguna legacy issues.