Bougainville News: President Momis Press Statement 14 June future of the Moratorium on mining exploration and development

photo-j-m

 

“The ABG must make sure that our existing small-scale mining industry is protected. It is an industry where benefits spread to the people in villages and hamlets. Their interests cannot be thrown away in favour of new large-scale mining interests with exploration licences. If we do not recognise small-scale miners, there will be dangers of unrest, and even conflict.

PRESS STATEMENT – 14 JUNE 2016

JOHN L. MOMIS, PRESIDENT, AUTONOMOUS REGION OF BOUGAINVILLE

LIFTING THE BOUGAINVILLE MINING MORATORIUM

Chief John Momis, President of Bougainville, spoke today about debate in Bougainville’s House of Representatives on the future of the Moratorium on mining exploration and development. The House concluded the debate on Tuesday 7 June. It passed a motion asking the Autonomous Bougainville Government (the ABG) to lift the moratorium completely

The Bougainville Executive Council initiated this debate in April. All members were also asked to seek the views of their people. Members had a further debate on the issues on Tuesday.

President Momis said:

“The moratorium was imposed in April 1971, by the colonial Administration. It prevented mining exploration or development in all areas except those already under BCL leases. Bougainvillean leaders asked for the moratorium because of deep concerns that there might be many more mines in addition to the huge Panguna mine.

“Although I proposed to the House that the moratorium should initially be lifted partially, most members of the House preferred to lift it completely. A major factor here is National Government failure to fund the ABG as the Peace Agreement requires. The ABG’s bad financial position means we must increase our internal revenue. Most members see mining sector development as the best way to lift the Bougainville economy, and also provide ABG revenue. My Government has listened to and will implement the motion of the House.

‘But last week’s motion by the House does not itself lift the moratorium. The debate in the House was for the purposes of public consultation only. Under the Mining Act, it is the Bougainville Executive Council that has power to lift the moratorium. It has not yet made that decision. Before it does so, the Act requires BEC to get advice from the Bougainville Mining Advisory Committee. It must also allow the House another opportunity for debate on the issues.

“We will do this as soon as the Bougainville Mining Department fully implements the Bougainville Mining Act provisions on small scale-mining. This requires reserving areas for small scale mining. They will be called Community Mining Reserved Areas, Community Governments and Ward Assemblies will issue community mining licences.

“Under the Mining Act, the Mining Department has till October 2016 to set up the new arrangements for licensing small-scale mining. The arrangements must be in place before the moratorium is lifted. Exploration licences are then likely to cover most areas where the ten thousand or more small-scale Bougainvillean miners now operate. Once an exploration licence is granted over an area, a community mining reservation is possible only if the exploration licence holder consents to it. Most exploration licence holders are unlikely to consent.

“The ABG must make sure that our existing small-scale mining industry is protected. It is an industry where benefits spread to the people in villages and hamlets. Their interests cannot be thrown away in favour of new large-scale mining interests with exploration licences. If we do not recognise small-scale miners, there will be dangers of unrest, and even conflict.

“I have already given several directions to the Mining Department to implement the Community Mining Licence. As the Act requires those arrangements to operate by October, I can only assume that implementation work is far advanced. When the interests of small-scale miners are protected, we can lift the moratorium. I am today requesting my Minister for Mining, Hon. Robin Wilson, to obtain information from the Department about its progress in setting up the Community Mining Licence arrangements.

“An additional issue concerns the landowners impacted by the Panguna mine leases. The nine associations representing those landowners met me in Buka last week. They strongly requested a delay in lifting the moratorium until the after the holding of the Bel Kol ceremony with BCL. That ceremony has been requested by the landowners. They want to see this customary first step towards reconciliation about mining-related issues that caused conflict completed before there is any formal step towards resumption of large-scale mining in Bougainville. They are asking all Bougainvilleans and outside mining interests to respect their wishes in this regard.

“I am also requesting the Minister to investigate and report to me, as a matter of urgency, on how to ensure that Bougainville is not threatened by many mines being established. It was fear of this led Bougainvilleans to request the moratorium in 1971. It remains a real danger.

“The ABG Mining Act restricts the number of large-scale mining leases to no more than two at any one time – that is for mines like Panguna or Ok Tedi or Lihir. But there is no restriction on the number of small-scale mines (usually open-cut or tunnelling mines).

“Once the Moratorium is lifted, if exploration licences are granted for all prospective areas, it will be difficult to limit the number of small mining leases. Lease holders and landowners will pressure for developments to go ahead, so they can get the money on offer from mining.

“Once exploration licences are granted, we could face huge pressures to approve small mines, wherever exploitable minerals are discovered. We could perhaps have 10 or 20 such mines at the same time. The social and environmental impacts could be massive. Most of the available mineral resources could be extracted rapidly, in one generation, and all mining revenue too.

“I will look forward to my minister’s advice on how to deal with this problem.”

Chief John L. Momis

President, ARoB,

14 June 2016

Bougainville News: Momis Statement -The moratorium on mining exploration and development in Bougainville

 

image2

 

“We should not be rushing to open Bougainville to unrestricted exploration and mining. Some Bougainvillean groups (and small foreign investors) are keen to see unrestricted exploration immediately, and so advocate complete lifting of the Moratorium in all parts of Bougainville. But many others remain suspicious or uncertain about, or opposed to, unrestricted exploration and mining development.

That, to my mind, is another good reason for proceeding gradually, by partial lifting. “

STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT JOHN. L. MOMIS TO THE BOUGAINVILLE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, JUNE 2016

See critics below and Bougainville News

Mr. Speaker:

As President of our Autonomous Region, I am pleased to participate in this major debate about one of the most important sets of issues facing Bougainville.

I remind the House that the Bougainville Peace Agreement says one of the main objectives of autonomy is to “empower Bougainvilleans to solve their own problems, manage their own affairs and work to realize their aspirations”.

The ABG’s Bougainville Mining Act 2015 involved the ABG taking over the powers needed for Bougainvilleans to solve our own problems and manage our own affairs in relation to all aspects of mining. In doing so, the Act aims to facilitate the realizing of our own aspirations.

The Bougainville Mining Act was passed by the members of the second House. They were representing the Bougainvilleans that elected them. They deliberately included a section in the Act to continue the 1971 moratorium that prevented mining exploration and development in most of Bougainville.

Mr. Sam Kauona is a critic of the moratorium, and of our debate about it. He claims that the section that continues the moratorium was secretly included in the Mining Act. His claim is completely untrue. In the debate about the Act, in 2014 and early 2015, several members were very concerned to make sure that the Moratorium continued. For example, in the seminar for members to discuss the draft Act held in this chamber in March last year, the member for Kongara asked for clear assurances that the moratorium was still included.

I am proud that we, the members of the third House, are back here now, debating what the future of that moratorium should be. This House represents the people of Bougainville. The House is the right place for discussion of the big issues facing Bougainville. So the House is an institution of great importance. I want to see the House taking a much more public role in debating the issues that face us.

In fact, Mr. Speaker, I want to propose that in every future session that this House agree on an issue of importance to Bougainville which it will debate in the following session. That will ensure that we all think carefully about what those big issues are, and what the ABG should be doing about those issues.

As for the Moratorium, I need to remind this House that although the Mining Act continued the operation of the Moratorium, it also continued the operation of some aspects of mining rights and activities. They were exceptions to the Moratorium, things that were already recognised by the previous law. They included small-scale mining, and just a small part of the mining rights held by Bougainville Copper Ltd before the Bougainville Mining (Transitional Arrangements) Act 2014. Before that, BCL had the rights under PNG law over the SML, many leases for mining purposes, and exploration licences over extensive areas north and east of Panguna. But under our Mining Laws, BCL has nothing more than an exploration licence over the area of the previous SML.

Mr. Kauona has been saying that the ABG included the Moratorium in the Act to make sure that only BCL will have rights to minerals in Bougainville. As is usually the case when he talks about ABG mining policy, Mr. Kauona is completely wrong. BCL now has very limited rights in Bougainville. It will not move from having just an exploration licence to being able to re-open Panguna unless Panguna landowners and the ABG are both in agreement with the conditions under which it will resume.

We must remember that the Moratorium was imposed in 1971 at the request of Bougainville leaders aiming to protect Bougainville from unlimited large mines. They were concerned that unlimited exploration licences could have seen many mines established all over Bougainville. Those same concerns remain valid today. Many people still share those concerns. That is why this debate is so important.

Our 2015 Mining Act gives the BEC power to lift the Moratorium, wholly or partially. Before it makes a decision, BEC must receive advice from the Bougainville Mining Advisory Council, and allow a debate in the ABG parliament on its proposed decision.

The debate that we are having today is NOT part of that official, or formal, process for making a decision on the future of the Moratorium. That formal process has not even begun yet. Instead, our debate today is part of the BEC’s efforts to ensure that there is wide public debate on the issues involved here.

Mr. Kauona claims that I am making the decisions about the Moratorium. That is complete nonsense. The BEC has that power. And BEC has not even decided its position on the issue. So far the only thing BEC has done is decide that there should be open public debate on whether the Moratorium should be maintained, or lifted. Because we have no funds to conduct a public awareness and consultation, we have instead asked this House to debate the issues involved. Then BEC can take full account of the views expressed here, and by the public, when it does make a decision.

Before considering whether to lift the Moratorium, wholly or partially, it is important to remind ourselves what lifting the Moratorium would involve. I ask all members to be mindful of two important points.

The first such point is that the Moratorium does NOT stop two main activities or rights, and they are:

  • Small-scale mining, most of which was illegal under the PNG Mining Act, but made legal by the 2014 Transitional Mining Act, and what was legal under that Act continues to be legal under the 2015 Mining Act, but only until October 2016, when it is supposed to be covered by the new Community Mining Licences;
  • The BCL exploration licence over the former SML. But that gives no rights to BCL for anything except negotiation of the conditions for future mining, which is all on hold anyway, while BCL majority shareholder – Rio Tinto – decides the future of its equity in BCL;

The second important point is that the Moratorium DOES prevent six main forms of mining related licence or mining lease being granted:

  • artisanal mining licences, which are available only to Bougainvilleans – they are a step up from community mining licences, and cover small areas up to 5 hectares, dealing mainly with gravel, earth and perhaps rock, allowing work to a maximum depth of 10 metres (and so not allowing extensive open cut or tunnelling); and
  • reconnaissance licences, that allow people merely to make a preliminary examination, without any right to do drilling or other intensive exploration for or proving of minerals;
  • exploration licences, usually directed to finding enough minerals to justify an application for a mining lease;
  • mining leases, either large-scale or small-scale mining leases which are for mining deeper than 10 metres, and usually involve either open-cut mining, or underground tunnelling;
  • quarry leases;
  • leases for mining purposes (roads etc.) and mining easements.

In debate in this House on 5th April, I recommended lifting the Moratorium partially. Amongst other things, that would give the Bougainville Mining Department time to build its capacity to manage the new system for exploration licence applications.

More important, the Department has not yet developed administrative arrangements needed for handling international tender of exploration licences, and for the whole significant new system of Community Mining Licences for small-scale miners. If the Moratorium is lifted in full, then exploration licences for large-scale mining would be available for the whole of Bougainville. Once exploration licences are granted for the prospective areas of Bougainville, the Mining Department will not be able to implement those very aspects of the Mining Act, in the areas where exploration licences are operating.

I continue to recommend partial lifting of the Moratorium. But, I have also refined my thinking. It can be partial lifting in two main ways.

First, the moratorium could be lifted in full for some categories of licences for the whole of Bougainville. In particular, I see no reason why reconnaissance licences and artisanal licences should not be lifted. The same could be true for quarry leases. By lifting the Moratorium in this way, most Bougainvilleans interested in doing something more extensive than current small-scale mining will be able to do so.

But second, the Moratorium could be initially lifted partially for exploration licences (for possible open-cut or underground mines) and for mining leases. This would initially be lifting the Moratorium only for perhaps two or three special areas. Opening just limited areas to applications for exploration licences or mining leases would give the Mining Department time to test its tenement administration arrangements in those areas.

But main reason for this proposals for initial limited lifting of the Moratorium would be to allow the Department to establish the international tender and community mining licence arrangements. In particular, the Mining Department clearly needs time and resources to concentrate on the very important matter of establishing the community mining licence arrangements.

Let’s be clear here – I am not recommending that international tender be the only way exploration licences are granted for the whole of Bougainville. No. The idea with the international tender arrangements is for the Department to identify particular highly prospective areas of Bougainville, and to have geological survey carried out over those areas. Then if it is judged as worthwhile to do so, those areas can be advertised, and the geological survey material made available, as part of a process of inviting tenders for licences. This might generate significant revenue in exploration fees. But it is intended to be restricted to just a few areas where it is judged worthwhile to incur the expense and make the considerable effort likely to be involved.

But if we do not set up the arrangements first, then it is likely that much of Bougainville will be covered by exploration licences, which would make it almost impossible to identify areas suitable for dealing with through international tender. More important, we would then only be able to grant our new small-scale mining licences – the Community Mining Licences – only with the consent of exploration licence holders. That consent will probably be very difficult to obtain.

The partial lifting, in relation to exploration licences and mining leases, should only be for a short time – only for the year or two needed until arrangements for grant of community mining licences and international tender of exploration licences are in place.

But at the same time, I would recommend strongly that we make small but important amendments to the Bougainville Mining Act.

The first amendment would be to limit the number of small scale mining leases. At present the Act restricts the number of large-scale leases tow no more than two at any one time – that is for mines like Panguna or Ok Tedi or Lihir. But there is no restriction on the number of small-scale mines (which, we must all remember, will usually be open-cut or tunnelling mines).

Once the Moratorium ifs lifted generally, if exploration licences are granted for all the prospective areas of Bougainville, it could become very difficult to limit the number of small-scale mines. The reason is that there will be pressures from licence holders, and some landowners, for developments to go ahead, so they can get the money on offer from mining.

Without restrictions on small-scale mining leases, we could face huge pressures to approve numerous mines, wherever minerals are discovered in exploitable quantities. We could perhaps have 10 or 20 such mines operating at the same time. The social and environmental impacts could be massive. Further, most of the available mineral resources could be extracted very rapidly, in the space of a generation.

My second suggested amendment would be simply a clarification that when considering lifting the Moratorium partially, the BEC may do that either by reference to category or tenement (e.g. full lifting of reconnaissance and artisanal licence and partial lifting of other tenements) or by reference to area for particular categories (e.g. in relation to exploration licences, mining leases and leases for mining purposes).

We should not be rushing to open Bougainville to unrestricted exploration and mining. Some Bougainvillean groups (and small foreign investors) are keen to see unrestricted exploration immediately, and so advocate complete lifting of the Moratorium in all parts of Bougainville. But many others remain suspicious or uncertain about, or opposed to, unrestricted exploration and mining development.

That, to my mind, is another good reason for proceeding gradually, by partial lifting. Then, when the very necessary, and highly important arrangements are in place for the grant of community mining licences and for inviting international tendering for exploration licences in selected highly prospective areas, we can review the situation again. We can then consider further lifting of the Moratorium.

Mr. Speaker, in summary, I recommend:

  1. Partial lifting of the Moratorium, in relation to grant of reconnaissance licences, artisanal licences, and quarry leases, for the whole of Bougainville;
  2. Partial lifting also in relation to grant of exploration licences, mining leases, leases for mining purposes and mining easements, initially restricted to two or three specific areas of Bougainville;
  3. Amending the Bougainville Mining Act:
  1. to clarify that partial lifting of the Moratorium by reference to categories of tenement is permitted;
  2. to restrict the number of small-scale mining leases that can be in operation at any one time.

This suggested approach to lifting the Moratorium and making minor amendments to the Act would allow most Bougainville mining interests access to minerals through artisanal licences. It would see continued protection against establishing many open cut and underground mines. That was the original aim of the Moratorium. It continues to be an important aim.

CRITICS

Lifting of the mining moratorium on Bougainville has hoodwinked the majority of people on Bougainville.
In March 2016, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG), knew that the decision on the future of the mining moratorium on Bougainville was a major concern and “that there should be wide public debate on the issues involved”.

This was reiterated again as stated by Patrick Nisira, Vice President of the ABG in his public leture on 28 April 2016 in Canberra.
Yet in his next breath, Patrick Nisira advises, “but we don’t have the funds necessary for an extensive public awareness and consultation program”.
Instead, the decision to lift the mining moratorium was done without the majority of people on Bougainville even knowing, therefore, appears they were deliberately left out of the decision.

They have been intentionally ignored on purpose to allow BCL (Bougainville Copper Ltd) and Rio Tinto to return to Bougainville.
So, if BCL returns to operate the Panguna mine, like it did in the past, will BCL and Rio Tinto be providing payment and compensation for the deaths and destruction it caused under the unfair Bougainville Copper Agreement?

The National,Thursday June 9th, 2016.

By FRANCIS PULU
ONLY time will tell when the Panguna Mine will be reopened after the Autonomous Bougainville Government House of Representatives lifted the mining moratorium in Parliament session on Tuesday.
Member for Hagogohe Constituency, Robert Hamal Sawa told The National that the decision was done in consultation with the people who agreed that the moratorium be lifted.
Sawa said the next task was for the Bougainville Executive Council, Bougainville Copper Limited, Government and the Panguna landowners to negotiate on how well the mine would operate in accordance with the new Bougainville Mining Act.
He said as the lifting was constitutionally amended, one condition of the lifting was for the Panguna Mine to be reopened.
“We decided that for the moratorium to be lifted and for Panguna Mine to operate again, only BCL will be allowed back because they know the operation back then,” he said.
Sawa said they did not want to engage another company apart from BCL which did not understand the situation in Panguna. For areas that have minerals, it was up to the resource owners to organise and decide which mining activity either in alluvial or exploration should take place.

 

Bougainville Mining News: What does the blanket lifting of the mining moratorium really mean to the Bougainville people

mining

 “Are we preparing our people for the advent of mining or are they just going “get in the way” again as usual?

A large number of educated elites support leanings towards mining without broader understanding of it’s impact on people other than themselves who stand to gain through employment or otherwise “

Comment from Chris Baria , Arawa

Friends, citizens, fellow country men and women. I am here to express my utter dissatisfaction and discontentment with the way ABG and a select group of people are leading us blindly into the teeth of a storm. Some months ago a Mining Law was passed in the ABG House of Representatives.

Few days ago there was a blanket lifting of the moratorium. With it we have surrendered our last bastion against the onslaught of corporate might that has taken over democracies through out the world. How strong, how capable and how well resourced is ABG to contain such might?

Many of us think this is some airy-fairy theory. Many of our leaders and people in the village do not understand that the world out their had changed so much while we in the “dark ages” of the crisis.

Today, big businesses control much of what use to be known as the “free-world”. There is a new form of government masquerading as democracy where government conspires with powerful corporation to liberalize the economy and the public sector for a takeover by these corporations.

It is called “Corporatocracy”

Thanks to the Internet where we can always go to sites that give us the other side of the coin so that we are not misled to believe all the lies dish on television, newspapers and other media for the benefit of the government and its cronies.

I am further sadden that the quest for wealth has taken over the initial cause that we went to war for.

They are telling us that the crisis was a bad call and it shouldn’t have happened. So what happened to the heroic stance that people of Bougainville took against all odds to defend themselves, their land and environment for the future generations against an unscrupulous mining giant that was tearing up the mountains and valleys leaving communities landless and penniless.

We were hailed around the world as the first ever indigenous victors against a world class mining company.

Australian Government sat on the fence hoping that these pathetic poorly armed kanakas would be put in their place. It shamelessly supplied arms and helicopters to claiming that it was part of some defense cooperation program. It was a disappointment and maybe embarrashment for them in the end.

All these efforts were for nothing but reopening of the mine at Panguna.

ABG denies (or tries to) that Mining Law and Moratorium lifting are aimed reopening Panguna when we have BCL management singing a different song.

ABG claims that the people through out all of Bougainville have agreed to the blanket lifting of the moratorium. I have no problems with that.

My question is, do we sincerely believe majority of our people know what a “moratorium” is or what we mean by “blanketing lifting?”

Do they know what they are agreeing to?

The Sioux, Apache, and Cherokee indigenous people defeated rather annihilated US 7th Calvary at the battle of Little Big Horn. Today, this once proud, brave and noble people live in Reservations around USA. A people reduced to rubble by a government that they looked up to and trusted after they signed a treaty not knowing what they were doing.

One of the key requirements for referendum is total disarmament. During May 17 celebrations I was not in Bougainville but I am told that people are heavily armed. Assault rifles, grenade launchers and machine guns enough to dissolve the PNG parliament were openly displayed on that day.

So why are this people totting such toys when they should be happy that BCL or whoever is going to come and mine minerals is going fill up their houses with wealth while they seep Champagne on ice by the roadside?

Are these the people who have agreed to lifting of blanket moratorium as we are told? Seriously are they expecting trouble? What do you think?

Over a period of time I have come to realize that life is more exciting when people say one thing and do another. Great novelist sell their work because protagonists are liars. Yes we were led to believe we were fighting to close the mine and for something call independence which allowed us to mind our own business.

Yes we all sacrificed our nice jobs, our salaries, our medical benefits, school fee subsidies and because we looked out the window and saw that we had left our people behind when we got on the bus.

The very people who preached bleached white freedom now have come down with severe case of amnesia. They can’t remember all that “I am for you” messages they the imparted to us.

Just how much money does the Autonomous Region need to operate without politicians dipping their dirty fingers into the national coffers?

Have we set up industries that will act as a buffer in our economy when price of copper and gold drop below our belt?

Are we preparing our people for the advent of mining or are they just going “get in the way” again as usual?

A large number of educated elites support leanings towards mining without broader understanding of it’s impact on people other than themselves who stand to gain through employment or otherwise.

We cannot pretend that we are westerners. We come from a world where groups interests are more important than individual. We belong to a extended family, clan and an area or ethnic group. This are the things we must consider before we make decisions that may clash with our way of life.

Seek to find deeper truth, let’s be honest with ourselves, if we are to gain respect from those who seek to do business with us. Maski crawl olsem kuka painim moni na glory.

 

Thank you.

Bougainville Tourism News : Extra one million tourists per year by 2040, says World Bank report

World Bank

By taking a targeted approach to tourism development, Pacific Island countries can ensure visitor numbers are kept at sustainable levels, while attracting higher-spending tourists – helping to protect the precious natural environment and cultural heritage that make this region so special.”

A new World Bank report says careful and sustainable planning around emerging tourism markets could help Pacific Island countries gain as much as US$1.8 billion per year in additional revenues and create up to 128,000 additional jobs by 2040.

The Pacific Possible: Tourism report, which was released for public comment today at the annual board meeting of the South Pacific Tourism Organisation, outlines a plan for long-term, balanced and manageable tourism growth to the year 2040.

For  Bougainville Tourism Info or BET Tour Bookings

The report recommends four key strategy areas for attention:

  • improving international transport links to the region;
  • attracting higher-spending tourists;
  • improved public sector engagement;
  • and improving linkages between tourism and local economies.

“Tourism is one of the Pacific region’s most economically viable sectors, with significant opportunities for sustainable growth in the Chinese tourist, cruise ship, luxury travel and retiree markets,” said John Perrottet, report author and Senior Technical Specialist at the World Bank.

By taking a targeted approach to tourism development, Pacific Island countries can ensure visitor numbers are kept at sustainable levels, while attracting higher-spending tourists – helping to protect the precious natural environment and cultural heritage that make this region so special.”

Tourism plays an important role in Pacific Island economies and is one of the region’s few economically viable sectors. Total tourism spending in Pacific Island countries for 2013 amounted to US$1.4 billion.

In 2014, a record 1.37 million overnight visitors arrived across eleven Pacific Island countries, with Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Palau, Samoa and Vanuatu making up the top five destinations. Two thirds of visitors traveling to Pacific Island countries are from Australia and New Zealand, while the United States, China, Japan and Europe represent significant growth potential.

“Tourism has a multiplier effect in local economies, helping to boost business activity and the livelihoods of people working in various other industries, including agriculture and retail,” said Franz Drees-Gross, World Bank Country Director for Papua New Guinea, Timor-Leste and the Pacific Islands. We hope this report will assist Pacific Island governments in sustainable planning for more tourism arrivals from both existing and emerging tourism markets.”

The report is the third of seven in the World Bank’s Pacific Possible series, which looks at potentially transformative opportunities for Pacific Island countries that warrant further research, understanding and policy action. The series aims to inform government and stakeholder decisions on planning and long-term decision-making.

 

To read the Pacific Possible: Tourism paper in full, please visit www.worldbank.org/pacificpossible. Comments or feedback will be accepted via email to PacificPossible@worldbank.

Bougainville Mining News : BCL restates at AGM commitment to mining in Bougainville

eight_col_Panguna_1

“The relationship between President Momis, his government, and the Board and management of Bougainville Copper remains cordial. In early April management joined a business delegation to Buka where there was an opportunity to meet with the President and a number of ministers as well as business leaders. Support for BCL was strong among the group we met.

That is not to say there isn’t some opposition and challenges. A letter addressed to me from a group of ex-combatants and one to President Momis in reaction to the ABG debating the lifting of the moratorium on exploration and mining outside the BCL area suggests there are some vested interest groups who oppose the return of BCL as well as opposition to some mining related Government policy.”

The chairman and managing director of Bougainville Copper Ltd, Peter Taylor, says the company remains committed to its vision of sustainable mining there.

See Chairman’s Address below

He told the annual meeting in Port Moresby on Wednesday that they are happy at the growing strength of the company’s relationships in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region.

BCL’s closed Panguna mine was at the centre of the violence that tore Bougainville apart in the 1990s.

The Bougainville Government is keen for a resumption of mining and Mr Taylor says the company has had positive engagement with many local interest groups, including landowners, in the Panguna area.

bcl-logo

Chairman’s Address to 2016 AGM – Full transcript

On 1 June 2016 Bougainville Copper Limited held its Annual General Meeting at the Grand Papua Hotel in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. The AGM provided an opportunity the Chairman Mr Peter Taylor to make a statement concerning the up to date affairs of the company and the following is a transcript of that speech in its entirety. A PDF of the address with slides from the presentation can be downloaded here.

Financial Results

The results for the year ended December 31, 2015 as reported in the Annual Report, recorded a loss after tax of K 37.9 million. A tax expense of K31.4 million was expensed as a result of resolution of a previously reported tax case. The loss of K37.9 million compares with an overall loss of K175.7 million in 2014 which included an asset impairment charge of K166.6 million.

Revenue from interest and dividends from investments was K4.8 million compared to a budget of K5.0 million.

Operating expenses were K11.3 million compared to a budget of K13.6 million reflecting scaling back of work programs driven by tenure uncertainty.

The company will not pay a dividend.

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

Liquid Assets and Investment Strategy

At the end of 2015 the company’s liquid assets were K29.5 million in cash and $A 50.0 million (K108.9 million) in Australian listed equities. The company’s investments are linked to the performance of the Australian equities market.

Governance

Bougainville Copper has governance reporting obligations to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX).  A statement on the company’s compliance with the ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations is contained within the annual report.  In addition, the company complies with Rio Tinto’s comprehensive range of policies including safety, environment, financial management and other governance practices.

Safety and Risk Management

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

The management of Bougainville Copper undertakes regular risk reviews.  The aim of these workshops is to identify risks and opportunities facing the company, and to allocate responsibility for each to a member of the management team.  The company has ensured compliance with its own policies.

Bougainville Copper Foundation

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

In 2015, as in previous years, the Foundation had more than 100 Bougainville students on scholarships. Many are continuing to be supported in 2016.

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

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

Rio Tinto Review

On 18 August 2014, following the announcement of the proposed new Bougainville Mining Act, Rio Tinto announced a strategic review of its shareholding in BCL. The Rio Tinto review remains ongoing and the Board continues to engage with Rio Tinto regarding the status of the review.

Strategy

The company’s priority is to secure its tenement position and a sustainable social license sufficient to underpin any potential decision to proceed with mine study and development. The Board continues to proactively assess its strategic options.

Tenement Position

The company continues to maintain in good standing all tenements under the Bougainville Copper Agreement. In August 2014 The Bougainville Government passed what was titled an interim mining act that among other things purported to cancel all of BCL’s mining tenements held under the BCA (SML1, 7 ELs and associated leases for mining purposes – about 67,000 hectares) and replaced the special mining lease (SML1 –  3770 hectares) with an exploration licence (EL1). To preserve optionality, BCL has prepared applications for additional tenements it will need for the potential redevelopment of the mine.

Government Relations

The relationship between President Momis, his government, and the Board and management of Bougainville Copper remains cordial. In early April management joined a business delegation to Buka where there was an opportunity to meet with the President and a number of ministers as well as business leaders. Support for BCL was strong among the group we met.

That is not to say there isn’t some opposition and challenges. A letter addressed to me from a group of ex-combatants and one to President Momis in reaction to the ABG debating the lifting of the moratorium on exploration and mining outside the BCL area suggests there are some vested interest groups who oppose the return of BCL as well as opposition to some mining related Government policy.

Community Relations

The company has had positive engagement with many of the local interest groups from the project area, including landowners. Bel Kol is part of this process. Preparations for Bel Kol are continuing.

The relationship with landowners is mainly positive and agreement has been reached to settle long-standing claims relating to the year following the suspension of mining operations. While there are some landowners opposed to reopening the mine for a range of reasons there appears to be a clear majority in favour of redevelopment.

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

There is a wide range of interests, and we are trying to listen to them all.

Tailings and Mining

Since mining was suspended the company has not had access to the former mine and tailings area. I have received reports that in addition to artisanal mining there is now industrial scale reprocessing of former mine tailings.

Events on Bougainville

Although there is continuing growth in commercial activity throughout Bougainville, the Autonomous Region is still very dependent on funding from the National Government and aid donors.

The date for the referendum has been set for June 2019. The National Government has committed support to fund the referendum preparations.

It is important that the long term regime for Bougainville is determined so the company can factor this into its studies for potential redevelopment.

Conclusion

Reports and commentary on company activities are regularly reported to the Australian Securities Exchange and associated media, and can also be accessed on our website.

In conclusion, the vision to return to active exploration and profitable, sustainable mining remains. The company is well positioned to recognise the opportunities inherent in recent challenges, and to maintain progress in a new year.

I believe a majority of the Bougainville people, who will soon participate in a referendum on Independence, clearly see the importance of economic self-sufficiency that could potentially be provided by mineral resource exploration and development.

 

<!–

–>

 

Bougainville News : President Momis Opening JSB -Statement from JOINT SUPERVISORY BODY PORT MORESBY May 2016

m and o

“But Bougainville is not being treated as a government with constitutionally guaranteed autonomy. Too often we are regarded as just another provincial government, or a department. When it comes to calculation of grants, National agencies believed they can make arbitrary decisions about the ABG. They ignore what the Constitution requires.

This must change. If it does not, then the ABG will begin challenging breach of the Constitution in the courts.

Understanding of the Peace Agreement and the National Constitutional laws that give effect to the Agreement is absent. The high turnover of both politicians and senior officials since the Peace Agreement is an issue here .Almost no one in the National Government structures was involved in negotiating the Agreement. So perhaps it’s not such a surprise that many do not understand the big difference between autonomy and a provincial government.

I fear sometimes that this failure to understand the ABG as a truly autonomous  government is part of the reason why even the JSB is not working well.

The ABG operating account contains less than K3 million. We will soon have to begin shutting down operations.

In the 2014 JSB , the National Government stated that on its calculations, it owed K96 million in arrears of RDG. On those figures, annual RDG payments should have been at least K29.5 million per year. We did not accept the National Government calculations. Our calculation showed arrears of over K400 million, and annual payments of well over K100 million.”

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT 

JOINT SUPERVISORY BODY PORT MORESBY, 20 MAY 2016

OPENING STATEMENT BY

HON. JOHN L. MOMIS, PRESIDENT AUTONOMOUS REGION OF BOUGAINVILLE

On behalf of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, I welcome all members of the two, delegations – the National Government and the ABG – as well as all observers or guests.

In particular, I acknowledge, and welcome the presence of the Honourable Peter O’Neill,  Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, and other Ministers in attendance, and of course, Hon. Joe Lera, Minister for Bougainville Affairs, to whom I offer a special welcome to this his first JSB meeting as Minister.

Colleagues, I must begin by reminding all of us that the reason that we are here is that we are implementing a peace agreement – an agreement negotiated with difficulty to end a violent, bloody and destructive conflict in which thousands of people died – people from not only Bougainville, but also from elsewhere in PNG.

In that context I must make brief comments on the importance of the roles of the JSB.

Download or Read ABG LEADERS’ JSB PREPARATION BRIEFING

Bougainville News JSB papers – May 2016

In both the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the National Constitution, the JSB is dealt with under the heading ‘intergovernmental relations’. That means relations between two separate governments.

The JSB is by far the most important institution for handling relations between the National Government and the ABG. The JSB has three main functions:

  1. To enable the two governments to jointly oversee implementation of the Peace Agreement, including both the autonomy and referendum arrangements; and
  2. To provide a forum for consultation between the two governments; and
  3. To help resolve disputes between the two governments that cannot be resolved by consultation between the relevant agencies of government. If the JSB cannot resolve a dispute, it can be referred for mediation or arbitration, and ultimately to the courts.

These are all important functions, including the one so far not used – that of dispute resolution. I hope very much that what we agree today means that there continues to be no need to use the dispute settlement arrangements.

The constitutional provisions on the JSB underline the fact that the ABG is a constitutionally established and highly autonomous government. It is very different to the provincial governments elsewhere in PNG. It is different in terms of powers, funding arrangements, and intergovernmental relations.

See Above Quote

For example, the procedures for the JSB agreed by us under Constitution say the JSB must meet at least twice a year. But in the last five or six years, it has not met even once a year on average. When it does meet, the officials try to deal with everything in advance, and treat the JSB as a rubber stamp.

I am sure, that, as usual, a group of National Government officials has produced the draft resolutions that they expect us to sign. That is not acceptable. The JSB is the forum for leaders from both sides to engage directly, and deal with issues. We are not a rubber stamp for what the officials think should happen.

The JSB must return to being the critically important forum for exchanges between governments. I will return to that issue before I finish these remarks.

The Constitutional roles of the JSB underline the importance of the two governments working together to implement the Peace Agreement in full.

Such cooperation is essential if the Peace Agreement is to work as was intended when it was negotiated. It is sometimes forgotten that the Peace Agreement was negotiated to end the worst conflict ever to have occurred amongst Pacific Island people.

We must remember that purpose of the Agreement, or otherwise there will always be a grave risk that violent conflict will begin again. A renewed war would have terrible impacts, for not only Bougainville, but also the rest of PNG.

It is vital that the two governments to work together. After all, as we used to say often, when the Agreement had just been negotiated, it is a joint creation. It involves both the PNG Government and the leaders of Bougainville. Both should have a deep interest in all issues about the Agreement, and in its full implementation.

You will all be relieved that I’m now turning my attention to the issues on the agenda for this meeting. My comments will be brief.

The first issue I want to mention is the calculation of the Restoration and Development Grant. The issues here are of the greatest importance to the ABG.

The ABG has two main immediate concerns here. First, we are almost completely broke. It’s now almost five months into 2016. But so far we have received no funding at all under the 2016 Budget. The ABG operating account contains less than K3 million. We will soon have to begin shutting down operations.

In the 2014 JSB , the National Government stated that on its calculations, it owed K96 million in arrears of RDG. On those figures, annual RDG payments should have been at least K29.5 million per year. We did not accept the National Government calculations. Our calculation showed arrears of over K400 million, and annual payments of well over K100 million.

So we agreed to resolve the differences over calculation method by getting independent legal opinions. In the meantime, the National Government agreed to pay the arrears at K30 million per year over three years. Future annual RDG payments were supposed to be based on their calculations – an RDG of at least K29.5 million per year.

But what happened? A K30 million arrears payment in the 2015 budget was never paid. The annual RDG for 2015 was set at only K15 million, but only K10 million was paid, and it was received in 2016. No provision for arrears was included in the 2016 budget. The annual RDG for 2016 in the budget is only K10 million.

So – the Constitutional Laws are being ignored. National Government promises of payment endorsed by the ABG have not been implemented.

This must change.

We need agreement here, today, that all arrears promised in 2014 are paid immediately, together with the additional arrears in underpayments in the 2015 and 2016 RDG amounts.

The second  RDG issue is that we must resolve, once and for all, the issue about calculation of the RDG. I want agreement here that we will jointly go to the Supreme Court to resolve our differences about that issue.

Our goal here is not to force the National Government to pay all the arrears that we think are due, or to force payment of impossibly high annual RDG figures. We understand the fiscal crisis that is facing the country. We will be reasonable. But we do need to agree what the Constitution requires. And we need a clear commitment that the Constitution will be followed.

The next agenda I want to mention is the Special Intervention Fund – the SIF. The SIF is important. It shows National Government commitment to restoring and developing Bougainville. But all sorts of problems are arising. Some National Government leaders are constantly claiming the SIF is being misused by the ABG – there are even claims of corruption. Just as the Prime Minister say he will not resign on the basis of allegations made without evidence, I ask for the evidence of our abuse of the SIF. There have been audit reports and other evaluations of the SIF. They do not support such allegations.

More important, there are now three new unfunded projects approved by the Central Supply and Tenders Board, without prior JSB approval. WE need to know, here, today, where the funding for those projects will come from.

Next, is fisheries. We hope to sign an MOU here on fisheries funds and powers. Under the Peace Agreement, the ABG is entitled to receive from NFA all fisheries revenues derived from EEZ, Continental and territorial waters associated with Bougainville, less costs of collection. All such revenues collected since 2005 are payable to the ABG. For many years, we have been asking NFA for the data on the revenue received. They have failed to provide that.

Now NFA offers an MOU, under negotiation for several years, with an annual ‘good-faith’ payment of K5 million. The MOU was originally to be signed in 2014. If it had been, we would have received K15 million by 2016. But here we are with an MOU to sign that just offers K 5 million for 2016.

I want clear agreement here, today, that the K15 million will be paid by NFA, by mid-June 2016. In addition, all the data on revenue and costs of collection must be provide by July.

There are other issues on the agenda. In addition, there are many key ABG agenda items about which we have prepared papers, but most of which have not been included in the agenda produced by NCOBA from the JTT meeting.

They include:

  1. Second Autonomy Review (PNG and ABG Chief Secretaries)
  2. Implementing PNG Constitutional Laws Implementing the      Bougainville Peace Agreement (ABG)]
  3. Fisheries issues:
  4. Merging Bougainville Treasury function into ABG Finance Dept.
  5. DSIP and PSIP, and ABG laws implementing autonomy.
  6. Implementing ABG “Foreign Relations” Functions
  7. National Government Representation on Bougainville Senior Appointments Committee
  8. Reviving JSB Role as Key Autonomy Oversight Body
  9. Strengthening Bougainville Police Service 

The ABG asks for those matters to be added to this agenda.

With those comments, I will bring my opening remarks to an end. I wish us all a productive and cordial engagements in this JSB meeting.

Thank you one and all.

See for details Bougainville News JSB papers – May 2016

Content Page

 

ABG’S PROPOSED AGENDA ITEMS. 4

  1. A) ISSUES FOR JSB DETERMINATION AND ENDORSEMENT.. 6

AGENDA 1. A: KEY ELEMENTS OF REFEENDUM PREPARATION.. 7

AGENDA 2 – SUBJECT: ABG REVENUE GENERATION.. 9

AGENDA 2.A. – SUPPORT FOR ABG SPONSORED ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS. 9

AGENDA 2.B:DEVELOPMENT OF KANGU GROWTH CENTRE. 11

AGENDA 2.C : ABG DRAWDOWN OF POWERS TO COLLECT ALL PNG TAXES IN BOUGAINVILLE. 12

  1. ISSUES FOR JSB DELIBERATIONS. 14

AGENDA 3 SUBJECT: SECOND AUTONOMY REVIEW… 15

AGENDA 4 – SUBECT: 19

AGENDA 5: ISSUE/DISPUTES ON FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS FOR AUTONOMY. 22

AGENDA 5.A : RECURRENT UNCONDITIONAL GRANT: ARREARS AND FUTURE PAYMENTS. 22

AGENDA 5.B : RDG CALCULATION – ARREARS, AND FUTURE PAYMENTS. 23

AGENDA 5.C. – CONTINUITY AND SHORTFALLS IN SIF FUNDING.. 32

AGENDA 6 – SUBJECT: FISHERIES ISSUES. 36

  1. ISSUES FOR JOINT TECHNICAL TEAM MEETING DISCUSSIONS. 38

AGENDA 7 – SUBJECT: ABG FINANCE & TREASURY ISSUES: 39

AGENDA 7.A: CALCULATION OF IRC REMITTANCE TO ABG OF TAXES COLLECTED IN BOUGAINVILLE 2005-2016. 39

AGENDA 7. B: MERGING OF BOUGAINVILLE TREASURY FUNCTION INTO ABG FINANCE DEPT. 40

AGENDA 7.C: SERVICE DELIVERY MECHANISM AND LLGSIP. 41

AGENDA 7.D: DSIP AND PSIP AND ABG LAWS IMPLEMENTING THE AUTONOMY ARRANGEMENTS. 42

AGENDA 8 – SUBJECT: DRAWDOWN OF POWERS AND FUNCTIONS. 43

AGENDA 8.A: OVERARCHING MOU – FACILITATING DRAWDOWN OF POWERS AND FUNCTIONS. 43

AGENDA 8.B: IMPLEMENTING ABG “FOREIGN RELATIONS” FUNCTIONS UNDER THE BPA. 45

AGENDA 8.C: SUBSIDIARY LANDS MOU.. 47

AGENDA 8.D: ENVIRONMENT MOU.. 47

AGENDA 9 – SUBJECT:   NATIONAL GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATION ON BOUGAINVILLE SENIOR APPOINTMENTS COMMITTEE. 48

AGENDA 10 – SUBJECT: REVIVING THE JSB’S ROLE AS THE KEY AUTONOMY OVERSIGHT BODY. 50

AGENDA 11: SUBJECT: NURTURING LAW ABIDING, STABLE AND PEACEFUL SOCIETY BY STRENGTHENING BOUGAINVILLE POLICE SERVICE AND NGO’S (CSOs & FBOs) HUMANITARIAN REHABILITATION PROGRAMS. 53

ATTACHMENTS. 55

ATTACHMENT I:  JOINT REFERENDUM TECHNICAL GROUP RESOLUTION.. 56

ATTACHMENT II: REFERENDUM WORK PLAN.. 58

ATTACHMENT III: DRAFT PNGEC-OBEC AGREEMENT.. 66

ATTACHMENT IV. 69

 

 

 

#Bougainville #PNG News: Environmental disaster is waiting to happen in Bougainville port

b 1

“The person, group or authority responsible for bringing in these supply and storage vessels must immediately get these vessels out of the old government wharf, out of Kieta and out of Bougainville waters.

There is an imminent risk and danger from all the signs and indications and from information from the security staff and some of the crew on the vessels that one or both vessels are developing leaks. The worst that will happen is for the vessels, especially the fuel supply vessel, Pacific Trainer, already under stress and in a state of disrepair, to sink where it is berthed. Both vessels are aged, rusting away and under stress and duress.”

Simon Pentanu Resident of Pok Pok Island

The environmental contamination and pollution from the leakages is already evident. It will destroy one of the most beautiful harbours in the world. It will affect the Kieta harbour shoreline, the shores and fishing grounds of nearby villages and the spawning grounds for all stock and variety of fish.  The tides can carry any spills and leakages as far south as Koromira and up north towards Arawa, Loloho and Rorovana.

B2

As well as our pelagic stock fishing grounds, the barrier reefs  that serve the coastal populations as sources of food and income from seafood are most at risk. The mangroves that are spawning habitats for tuna and other fish are at risk too. This is  real. It is frightening.

Both these vessels are unseaworthy. They should have never been allowed into the harbour in the first place. The damage and cost in pollution, contamination and cleaning up will outweigh any benefits to anyone for which these vessels were brought here in the first place.

Appropriate authorities, namely NMSA (National Maritime Safety Authority), the Department of Environment and Conservation and the ABG Emergency Service should cooperate with our national and ABG customs and immigration staff to call in the foreigners involved, inspect the vessels and furnish a Report to ABG, the MHR for North Nasioi and the NNCOE (North Nasioi Council of Elders). These authorities should act immediately. The ABG must take decisive steps and actions on this imminent threat to the environment.

Of immediate and long term risk are residents along the shoreline of Kieta Harbour, the coastal villages and hamlets in Metora VA which includes Pokpok Island and Siipa Bay as well as villages along the coast north, east and south of Kieta.

We cannot talk about tourism sites, natural attractions and potential for the industry when we allow the gravest danger of pollution to one of the most beautiful and touristy areas on Bougainville. If Autonomy means we must take responsibility of our own affairs, responsibility for environment must be at the top of the list. Isn’t this one of the offending issues that attracted the wrath of those that fought tooth and nail during the conflict?

We have more than enough examples that should make us shudder and realise that wherever oil spills have happened elsewhere, human lives and every other living thing and form of marine life whose existence depends on the environment have been the most worse off and most deprived for the experience.

The member for North Nasioi and Minister for Department of Primary Industry must take take a firm, decisive and immediate stand to have these vessels removed. Most of the coastal people whose waters stand to be affected do not have or derive any pecuniary benefits from whatever the deal is that has brought these two vessels to Kieta.

Prevention is better than cure. Act now before it is too late! Respect the laws. We must learn and grow to be a lawful society and community instead of being “every man for himself”.

Bougainville News : Nisira’s Australian Lecture ” Leadership challenges for the Autonomous Bougainville Government

PN

” In summary then, the key leadership roles of the ABG include reconciliation and unification of Bougainville, using its powers and resources to make and implement policies and laws that deal with the problems and realise the aspirations of Bougainvilleans, speak for them in dealings with the PNG National Government and the international community, and act in their interests in preparing for their act of self-determination, in the form of the referendum.

While undoubtedly the ABG faces many complex and difficult leadership challenges, we are facing them honestly. We constantly explore our best options for dealing with them. Although our resources are extremely limited, we work hard to change that situation, and to face our challenges head on.”

PUBLIC LECTURE by PATRICK NISIRA, VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE

AUTONOMOUS REGION OF BOUGAINVILLE

” LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES FOR THE

AUTONOMOUS BOUGAINVILLE GOVERNMENT”

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA, 28th APRIL 2016

Picture above

In Canberra this week to speak at the ANU with Senator the Hon. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells. Minister for International Development and the Pacific

I am pleased, and honoured, to be here in Australia, and in Canberra in particular. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to contribute to the ongoing development of positive personal relationships between the leaders and people of Bougainville and the leaders and people of Australia.

So I must express my sincere thanks to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for facilitating my visit. Thank you, too, to the SSGM Program, here at the ANU, for inviting me to make my presentation here today.

The subject that I have been asked to discuss – that is, LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES FOR THE AUTONOMOUS BOUGAINVILLE GOVERNMENT – is, I think, an important one. It raises key issues about the central roles for the Autonomous Bougainville Government (or the ABG) envisaged by the Bougainville Peace Agreement (or the BPA).

Many of the ABG’s leadership challenges are inherent in the general situation of Bougainville in 2016. In a real sense it is a “post-conflict” situation – in that Bougainville’s violent, destructive, and deeply divisive nine year civil war ended almost 19 years ago now, in mid-1997. But of course, divisions, tensions and various forms of conflict (sometimes localised violence) continue. This complex ongoing and endlessly changing situation presents constant challenges for leadership at all levels, including the ABG.

There are, however, some critically important ABG leadership roles intended by the BPA. The reasons for, and the nature and significance of these roles are best understood by reference to the deeply divided conflict situation in Bougainville in the mid-1990s, in the several years before the peace process began.

CONTEXT – THE ABG & RECONCILIATION & UNIFICATION

The ‘moderate’ leadership on both sides of the main divide within Bougainville had by then become increasingly conscious of the long-term dangers for Bougainville if violent conflict between Bougainvilleans continued. Any dreams of self-determination for Bougainville would be under grave threat.

Against that background, it should be no surprise that from the very beginning of the peace process, the focus amongst the Bougainville leaders committed to the process was on unification of Bougainville. It was for that reason that the first step in the process was the extended meeting of opposing Bougainvillean leaders in the Burnham One talks in New Zealand. And of course, those talks were in fact a resumption of the previous talks between the divided Bougainville leadership held in Cairns, Australia, in September and December 1995, initiated largely by Theodore Miriung (then Premier of the Bougainville Transitional Government).

The deep drive for unification was always in large part directed to replacing the parallel and opposing Bougainville government structures generated by the conflict. The Bougainville Revolutionary Army had its associated ‘civilian’ government, the Bougainville Interim Government (or BIG), headed by Francis Ona. The BIG had its own system of local-level government – a three tier system of Councils of Chiefs. Opposing them were the Bougainville Resistance Forces (or BRF), and, from 1995, the Bougainville Transitional Government (or BTG). The BTG began establishing its own system of local-level government in 1996, the Councils of Elders. There were even separate women’s organisations associated with the BIG/BRA, and the BTG/BRF, respectively.

So it’s not surprising, perhaps, that once the Burnham One talks saw the opposing leadership agree to work together for peace, that in the January 1998 Lincoln Agreement they agreed with the Papua New Guinea Government on the need for “free and democratic elections on Bougainville to elect a Bougainville Reconciliation Government before the end of 1998”.

Through 1998 and 1999 a great deal of effort went into achieving the much sought after Bougainville Reconciliation Government. Indeed, the pursuit of that goal itself became divisive. In late 1998 efforts were being made to not only continue the operation of the PNG’s 1977 Organic Law on Provincial Government in Bougainville but also amend that Law to provide a basis for the Reconciliation Government. When those efforts unexpectedly failed, the 1995 Organic Law on Provincial Governments and Local-level Governments began operating in Bougainville from 1st January 1999. That should have resulted in establishing of a new Bougainville Interim Provincial Government headed by then Bougainville regional MP, John Momis, as Governor. BIG/BRA leaders, and others, saw this as contrary to the Lincoln Agreement commitment to establishing a Bougainville Reconciliation Government. As a result, the National Government was persuaded to suspend the interim Provincial Government from the instant that the 1995 Organic Law came into operation in Bougainville on 1 January 1999.

That allowed the establishing in the first half of 1999 of an elected Bougainville People’s Congress (or BPC), without a basis in legislation. The intention was that the BPC would be the Bougainville Reconciliation Government. But of course, those who’d hoped Momis would become governor were upset by the suspension action, and the establishing of the BPC, especially when former senior BIG leader, Joseph Kabui, was elected BPC President.

These problems in implementing the Lincoln Agreement provisions for a Bougainville Reconciliation Government, meant that far from unifying and reconciling, the process was itself divisive. As a result, when the negotiations for a ‘comprehensive political agreement’ (also required by the Lincoln Agreement) began on 30 June 1999, those supporting Momis and the establishing of the Bougainville Interim Provincial Government refused to participate.

It was a combination of a range of efforts from mid-1999 to achieve a reconciliation amongst the divided leadership, and a PNG Supreme Court decision late in 1999 that saw a remarkable compromise agreed. The Bougainville Interim Provincial Government would operate as the legal government for Bougainville, but would make all decisions in consultation with the ‘extra-legal’ BPC.

So from late 1999, leadership was shared, between Governor Momis and President Kabui. Though the term used in the Lincoln Agreement – the Bougainville Reconciliation Government – was never applied to this unique, ad hoc arrangement, it was truly a ‘reconciliation government’. It brought together previously opposing factions and opposing leaders in creative, flexible and highly inclusive arrangements that worked.

It was this set of arrangements for the ‘reconciliation government’ that provided leadership and government for Bougainville until the ABG was elected in June 2005. Momis and Kabui jointly led the combined Bougainville negotiating team that from December 1999 negotiated for the BPA, signed on 30 August 2001.

The successful operation of these ‘reconciliation government’ arrangements undoubtedly provided the firm foundations necessary for the ABG to become the true, long-term ‘reconciliation government’ for Bougainville.

These ad hoc arrangements were actually far more inclusive, and reconciliatory, than the single elected Bougainville Reconciliation Government envisaged by the Lincoln Agreement could ever have hoped to be. The flexible arrangements were expensive and unwieldy. They involve the elected BPC of more than 100 members, and the appointed Bougainville Interim Provincial Government of more than 30.

But the result was direct involvement of many people from multiple previously opposing groups, and a long period during which they learned to work together and to trust one another. Together they oversaw the negotiations for the BPA. They jointly took ownership of that Agreement once it was signed, and they oversaw its implementation. They worked together to establish the ABG.

THE ABG’S WIDER LEADERSHIP ROLES

Of course the BPA intends the ABG to be far more than just a symbol of reconciliation and unification. It is also intended unify Bougainvilleans and work to meet the special needs of Bougainville through the way in which it governs Bougainville, under the complex constitutional arrangements for the autonomy promised by the BPA, implemented through the changes to the PNG Constitution, and given an institutional basis in the Bougainville Constitution.

The BPA states that autonomy (amongst other things) is intended to:

“(a) facilitate the expression and development of Bougainville identity and the relationship between Bougainville and the rest of Papua New Guinea;

(b) empower Bougainvilleans to solve their own problems, manage their own affairs and work to realize their own aspirations …

(d) provide for a democratic and accountable system of government for Bougainville that meets internationally accepted standards of good governance, including protection of human rights;”

Under the BPA, the ABG has extensive powers and resources made available to it, intended to enable it to not only develop the policies and laws needed to solve the problems and realise the aspirations of all Bougainvilleans, but also implement those policies and laws so as to make real differences in the lives of all Bougainvilleans.

In addition, under the BPA and the constitutional laws that give effect to it, it is the ABG which speaks on behalf of all Bougainvilleans in dealing with the PNG government, and also with the international community. For the ABG has a range of little known ‘international affairs related powers’ and functions. For example, it has various rights to:

  • deal direct with foreign donor governments,
  • take part in regional meetings and organisations of clear special interest to Bougainville,
  • be represented in negotiation of border agreements between PNG and Solomon Islands,
  • participate in international cultural exchanges, trade and tourism promotion, and sport.

Finally, it is the ABG that has authority, on behalf of all Bougainvilleans, to oversee the preparations for a most significant act of self-determination – the referendum on the future political status of Bougainville (which must include a choice of independence), which must be held before mid-2020.

Under the BPA and the constitutional laws giving effect to it, the ABG and the National Government must cooperate in ensuring that the referendum is conducted. Further, it is the two governments that must consult and agree on the key aspects of the referendum arrangements that the BPA leaves to be decided as the referendum date approaches. These aspects include:

  • deciding on and establishing the agency with responsibility to conduct the referendum;
  • the criteria for enrolment of non-resident Bougainvilleans as voters in the referendum;
  • the date of the referendum;
  • the question or questions to be asked in the referendum.

You may be interested to note that, in my capacity as the ABG Minister responsible for referendum preparations, in the last week I have been deeply involved in discussions with the National Government over these and related matters. Significant progress has been made.

In summary then, the key leadership roles of the ABG include reconciliation and unification of Bougainville, using its powers and resources to make and implement policies and laws that deal with the problems and realise the aspirations of Bougainvilleans, speak for them in dealings with the PNG National Government and the international community, and act in their interests in preparing for their act of self-determination, in the form of the referendum.

Finally, the Bougainville Constitution spells out these and other leadership roles of the ABG, often in detail. The draft Bougainville Constitution was developed between October 2002 and July 2004 through a highly participatory process conducted by the 24 member Bougainville Constitutional Commission. It involved several rounds of public consultation, about successive drafts of the Constitution. The final draft was then submitted – together with a more than 300 page explanatory report – to the Bougainville Constituent Assembly. It comprised the almost 150 members of the BPC and the Bougainville Interim Provincial Government, sitting as a joint body. The Constituent Assembly made very limited changes to the draft before adopting it in November 2004, and it was endorsed by the National Executive Council a few weeks later.

The Bougainville Constitution clearly reflects the views and aspirations of the Bougainville Constitution in setting significant goals for the ABG. For example, the Preamble commits the ABG to:

  • work to ‘provide for self-determination … through both autonomy arrangements and the referendum on independence;
  • ‘recognize the sovereignty of the People’;
  • ‘recognize the autonomy of family and clan lineages and other customary communities;
  • ‘govern through democracy, accountability, equality, and social justice’;
  • ‘protect the land, the sea, our environment and our cultural identity for present and future generations’;
  • ‘strive to eliminate universal problems in Bougainville of poverty, illiteracy, corruption, pollution, unemployment, overpopulation and other ills’.

A full reading of the Bougainville Constitution highlights other roles and goals for the ABG, seen especially in the detail of the Bougainville Objectives and Directive Principles (sections 11 to 39 of the Constitution). But I will not burden you with a detailed exposition of what is largely an elaboration of the main points that I have already highlighted.

I must, however, highlight one fundamentally important goal that the Constitution emphasises the ABG MUST pursue. It is the ‘aim to achieve fiscal self-reliance [for Bougainville] as soon as possible’ (section 153(1)(a)). The Constitution also directs that ‘the need to achieve fiscal-self reliance as soon as possible’ must be considered by the ABG when determining what functions and powers it seeks transferred from the National Government.

LEADERSHIP CHALLENGES FACING THE ABG

I turn now to the question of the leadership challenges facing the ABG in carrying out the roles given to it, and the goals it has been asked to pursue. It is to be expected that there are many challenges inherent in its remarkable range of leadership roles. I propose now to briefly survey 14 areas of particular challenge, or special importance.

  1. Factions, Divisions and Mistrust

It’s hardly surprising that, in the aftermath of such a violent, bitter and divisive conflict, that many opposing factions and divisions exist in Bougainville, and that consequentially, there is still much mistrust. Many of the issues here involve some continuity with problems that occurred during the violent conflict, 1988 to 1997. But there are also significant new development. I’ll mention just a few.

While the ‘mainstream’ former BRA and BRF elements that supported the peace process now largely work well together, at the local level there remain many unresolved divisions, where reconciliation is still required.

While the BRA and the BRF no longer exist as armed ‘militias’, since about 2010 former combatant organisations have emerged as significant political voices in Bougainville. To some extent this development reflects uncertainty for some former senior leaders about whether President Momis, elected in mid-2010, was too much a PNG nationalist, and not sufficiently committed to the holding of the referendum. While that concern has now reduced significantly, I think it contributed to a number of pressures that saw the former combatants become more politically active.

A complicating factor here is the various business and other economic interests of several key former combatant leaders. Some of them use their ex-combatant networks to advance such interests.

Of course, there are other sources or manifestations of significant division and tension. They include:

  • Several different Me’ekamui factions, none of which participated in the weapons disposal process under the Peace Agreement, and so remain in possession of numerous firearms. These factions include:
  • the Me’ekamui Government of Unity, based at Panguna, its leaders having links with several small, but high risk, mining investors;
  • the ‘original’ Me’ekamui, led by Chris Uma, based in Arawa, and controlling the Morgan Junction road block, still sometimes limiting access to the Panguna area;
  • Damien Koike’s Me’ekamui group based mainly at Sinimi and at Tonolei Harbour in the Konnou area of south-eastern Buin, who operates a semi-industrial ‘artisanal’ mining operation engaging about 300 young males mainly from Buin, but also from other areas;
  • Noah Musingku’s U-Vistract scheme, a fraudulent investment scheme that began in Port Moresby in 1998, but which since late 2004 has been based at Tonu in the Siwai area, and is ‘protected’ by about 100 young armed men, headed by a former Fijian soldier;
  • Former BRA leader, Sam Kauona, who has long had interest in establishing mining operations in association with dual Australian/Canadian citizen, Lindsay Semple, and who – whenever they fear their mining interests are not sufficiently guaranteed – attacks the ABG as being under the control of Bougainville Copper Ltd (or BCL) and its 53 per cent majority shareholder, Rio Tinto.

 

  1. Weapons Disposal

The Peace Agreement contained a plan for the BRA, BRF and Me’ekamui groups to disarm, but as we’ve seen, the Me’ekmui people did not join the process and retained their weapons. The agreed plan was implemented under UN supervision, resulting in destruction of about 2,000 weapons. BRA and BRF members were give strong incentives to dispose of weapons by provisions linking UN certification of adequate completion of particular stages in the disposal process to the coming into operation of the constitutional laws giving effect to the Peace Agreement, and the holding of the first ABG elections.

But some weapons contained by BRA commanders were not destroyed, and were later put to use in localised armed conflict in Konnou, 2006 to 2011, in which scores of people were killed. In addition, some BRA and BRF members retained weapons, due to suspicion of PNG or of one another, or for the purpose of sale, or for use in criminal activities. Further, since implementation of the weapons plan ended, in 2005, additional weapons have come into possession of some Bougainvilleans. Though exact numbers are not known, they include: some weapons brought in from Solomon Islands; probably some hundreds of refurbished WWII weapons; and possibly some weapons supplied to former BRF members by contacts of theirs in the PNGDF.

Not only have such weapons been used in localised conflict, they have also been employed in several instances of violent crime. Further, a significant commercial trade in Bougainville weapons has emerged, both an especially lucrative trade into the PNG Highlands, but also a less lucrative internal Bougainville trade.

The ongoing availability of weapons undermines security, and is a constant threat to the strengthening of law and order. We also have growing fears that the presence of weapons could undermine the prospects of a free and fair self-determination process, through the Bougainville Referendum. Paradoxically, the approach of the Referendum provides us with the opportunity to encourage disposal of weapons. Many who have retained weapons claim to have done so for fear that the National Government could not be trusted to allow the referendum to be held. Now that it is becoming clearer that this fear will not be realised, we are finding that Me’ekamui faction leaders and former BRA and BRF leaders are all engaging with the ABG about agreeing a new disposal process that will make Bougainville weapons free before the Referendum is held.

  1. Law and Order, and the Infant Bougainville Police Service

We face many difficulties in improving the law and order situation. While in general it is far and away much better than it was 19, or 10, or even 5 years ago, there is still much to be done. Contributing to the difficulties is the limited understanding and acceptance of ‘outside’ law, and also ‘outside’ law and justice institutions.

Direct colonial administration in Bougainville began only in 1905, and was imposed with violence, and in a very uneven manner. Some areas had almost no administration contact until after WWII. Even then, colonial administration was limited to occasional patrols in many areas.

So even before the conflict, in the 1970s and 1980s, in much of rural Bougainville, most of what we might classify as crime was dealt with by local clan leaders, broadly under ‘kastom’. Such matters were often seen a causes for concern because they could damage relationships, rather than because of ‘criminality’.

After the initial withdrawal from Bougainville of PNG security forces in March 1990, there were extended periods for most of Bougainville when ‘outside’ law, and law and justice institutions, ceased to operate completely. While in some areas customary leadership continued to deal with many of the same things that they had previously managed, in much of Bougainville even that leadership was severely disrupted. In those areas the situation was close to anarchy. The impacts in terms of deaths, injuries, trauma and division were horrific.

Since the early 2000s there has been a significant effort, mainly funded by Australian aid, and to a lesser extent New Zealand, to re-establish law and justice institutions. But unfortunately these changes have largely ignored the 2004 recommendations of the Bougainville Constitutional Commission. It held extensive public consultations around Bougainville from late 2002 through 2003. This established that there was strong community demand for a law and justice system quite different from that operating in the rest of PNG. Our people wants a system reflecting the needs and special circumstances of Bougainville.

I remain committed to much more effort to develop appropriate policies and law and justice institutions. However, a major obstacle here is the limited capacity in the Bougainville Public Service and the still infant Bougainville Police Service to undertake policy development work.

That leads me to the next area of leadership challenge for the ABG.

  1. Capacity of Bougainville Public Service and Bougainville Police Service

In general the ABG faces grave difficulties because of the weakness in administration and policy capacity in both Bougainville’s Public Service and Police Service. It was one of the great tragedies of the Bougainville conflict that the remarkable capacity of the North Solomons Provincial Government administration, built up over the 15 years from 1974, was almost entirely destroyed. It could not simply be re-established after the conflict.

The very much weakened administration of the Bougainville Interim Provincial Government was taken over by the ABG in mid-2005. But during the conflict, management, planning and accountability mechanisms had been severely weakened.

The capacity of the PNG Police in Bougainville had been all but destroyed during the conflict, and a tiny group of officers concentrated in just 2 or 3 urban centres, and with very low morale, was all there was in 2003.

While significant efforts to rebuild the police, in particular, have been made, particularly in terms of recruiting training new officers, many problems remain. They include orientation of the police (more towards urban-based reactive policing than community based rural policing in cooperation with customary leaders), and grossly inadequate staffing for supervisory positions.

In terms of policy development, both the Public Service and the Police Service personnel are mainly trained to deliver existing PNG public service and police programs. They have no experience or training in policy development.

It is very difficult for the ABG to meet the BPA leadership challenge inherent in the goal of solving Bougainville’s problems and meeting the aspirations of Bougainvilleans when policy development capacity is all but lacking.

We are working hard to respond to the problems here. In 2014, all public service functions and powers were transferred to the ABG, with our enactment of the Bougainville Public Service Act. We have since established our own new departmentalised structure. In the process we have raised the seniority and remuneration of most positions to make them more competitive. The PNG Departments of Finance and Personnel Management have been fully supportive in terms of funding the extra costs when calculating the annual Recurrent Unconditional Grant (which I will touch on a little more shortly).

We have since advertised all departmental head and constitutional office positions, and made a number of new appointments. The rest of those new positions should be filled soon. The next stage will be the advertising of the senior management positions in all departments. That will be followed by more junior positions. All positions are open – all current employees will have to compete. By the end of 2016, the new and much leaner structure will be complete.

Will that result in major changes in capacity and performance? While that is our goal, there are still many serious obstacles, including the difficulties in attracting experienced and competent applicants willing to come to Bougainville when they know housing, education and health services are of such low standards compared to those available in major urban centres such as Moresby and Lae.

  1. Transfer of Functions & Powers from National Government to ABG

While the BPA and the constitutional laws make a remarkably extensive range of functions and powers available to the ABG, there is a transfer process involved. It involves the ABG initiating the transfer process by request to the National Government. Negotiation is then required to develop necessary transfer plans within a year. The plans are required to take account of the need to build the necessary ABG capacity and provide it with the necessary financial resources to take over the functions and powers in question.

The transfer process for many functions and powers has become bogged down in problems, misunderstandings and inertia. In general there’s been a failure to address ABG capacity and resources needs.

There have also been some significant exceptions, including public service powers and mining.

The much slower than anticipated progress in transfer of powers has resulted in frustration, and contributed to widespread criticism of the ABG for lack of performance, and failure to meet expectations.

  1. The Bougainville Economy, and That Fiscal Self-reliance Goal

The pre-conflict economy was dominated by the Panguna mine. Post-conflict, there are limited possibilities for dramatic expansion and development. The small-holder cocoa, and to a lesser extent, copra, sectors have been re-established. But most plantations are worked only by informal settlers, with little incentive to invest in improvements.

The only major new industry is small-scale gold mining, involving perhaps 10,000 miners (some full-time, many more part-time). They generate perhaps K100 million per year for miners.

There is undoubtedly scope for expansion of agriculture – particularly through more efficient management. But despite claims to the contrary by some critics, there are also significant restrictions. Arable land is limited. We also face significant land shortages in many areas. Such shortages are a major factor in localised divisions and conflict.

If the ABG is to achieve real autonomy, or to have independence available as a real option in the future, achieving fiscal self-reliance is essential. But the challenges of achieving that goal – so strongly emphasised by the Bougainville Constitution – are immense.

It is the need to explore realistic means of achieving that goal that has been a major factor leading the ABG to consider the possibility of permitting strictly limited large-scale mining. However, any such mining must be on a dramatically different basis from the grossly unfair conditions under which BCL operated the Panguna mine – matters that I will discuss in more detail a little later.

There are critics of ABG mining policy. The main ones are a few noisy outsiders. They include the NGO, Jubilee Australia, and close associates of Jubilee that post endless ‘anonymous’ postings on the ‘PNG Mine Watch’ and ‘PNG Exposed’ blogs. They refuse to in any way recognise the grave dilemmas facing the ABG. They have no understanding of the realities of Bougainville and the complex leadership challenges facing us.

  1. Revenue Raising – and Fiscal Self-reliance (Again!)

Fiscal self-reliance is at present nowhere in sight. Instead, the ABG is almost completely dependent on grants from the National Government – and donor support. The ABG annual budget of more than K300 million per year is nowhere near enough to deliver reasonable levels of even the most basic services to our more than 300,000 people. Yet more than 90 per cent of that budget comes in the form of PNG grants and donor funds.

The ABG raises less than K10 million per year through our own taxes (liquor licensing fees, sales tax on tobacco and alcohol, motor vehicle registration fees and so on).

Part of the National Government funding is also derived from Bougainville – for we are supposed to receive all personal income tax collected in Bougainville. At present the payment is only K5 million per year, and despite many requests for information on actual collections of that tax, we have no idea of actual figures. We are also entitled to just 30 per cent of the PNG’s goods and services tax collected in Bougainville.

The main-stays of the Bougainville economy are small-holder cocoa and copra production, and small-scale gold production. Their combined income from these sources in recent years averages K250 to a maximum of K350 million per year.

We often consider possible imposition of ABG taxation on this income. But we are deeply concerned about taking too much money from the limited income available to our people.

In addition, we have to consider costs of collection, and the difficulties likely to be created by emerging incentives for black markets.

Probably our best option will be some form of indirect taxation on consumption (perhaps a sales tax additional to the GST imposed by the National Government). But we know that there would be considerable resistance to imposition of such an additional tax. Further, even an additional 10 per cent tax would be likely to generate a maximum of perhaps K50 million – nowhere near enough to bring us anywhere close to fiscal self-reliance.

Does anyone really question why each ABG since 2005, with the clear support of many, many Bougainvilleans, has been open to the possibilities of limited large-scale mining for a Bougainville that is committed to self-reliance as it seeks real autonomy, and prepares for an act of self-determination? What responsible government in our circumstances would not explore that possibility?

  1. The Funding Arrangements in Support of Autonomy

The key aims of autonomy set out in the BPA extend beyond empowering Bougainvilleans to solve their own problems and work to realise their aspirations to recognise the need for the ABG to have the resources needed to achieve those lofty ideals. So it states that the autonomy arrangements are also intended to (and I quote) ‘provide sufficient personnel and financial resources for the autonomous Bougainville Government to exercise its powers and functions effectively’.

Unfortunately, the BPA never delivered fully on that aspect of its goals. That was largely because of the severe fiscal crisis that was facing PNG in the years when the BPA was negotiated. That crisis made it very difficult for the National Government to accept Bougainville demands for generous funding.

Of much greater concern is the failure of the National Government to deliver even the inadequate levels of funding promised by the BPA and the Constitutional Laws giving effect to it. I will not go into detail here. Instead I will highlight two of the most serious sets of problems involved.

First, the main annual grant payable to the ABG is the Recurrent Unconditional Grant. It funds recurrent costs (salaries and operational costs) of ABG functions – both those inherited from the previous provincial government, and new ones taken on in the process of transfer of powers.

Amongst many problems with calculation of the grant has been lack of attention to the costing of the expense to the ABG of transferred activities (a notable exception, however, being in relation to costs of the transfer of public service powers).

Another problem has been National Government failure to extend to Bougainville the significant benefits of new approaches to calculation of the similar grants payable to provincial governments elsewhere in PNG, as it is required to do by the BPA and section 48(2) of the Organic Law on Peace-building in Bougainville.

The second set of problems concerns calculation of the only other major annual grant payable to the ABG – the Restoration and Development Grant (or RDG). Because of the fiscal crisis of the late 1990s and early 2000s, the RDG base amount was not high – just slightly more than the K10 million PNG Public Investment Programme (or PIP) funds available for Bougainville in 2001. But in negotiating the annual RDG calculation arrangements, clear agreement was reached that when PNG’s then fiscal crisis was over, Bougainville would be guaranteed to share in increased tax revenue, as represented by percentage increases in the annual PNG PIP.

So provision was included that the annual RDG payable would not reduce below the 2001 base figure. It would only be adjusted upwards, by the rolling average of the change in the PNG PIP in each of the five years prior to the year of grant.

By 2005-06, as new resource projects came on stream in PNG and commodity prices rose, the annual increase in the PIP became large. Unfortunately, although the National Government did increase the RDG, to K15 million a year, it simply did not make the annual calculations required by the BPA and the Organic Law. RDG calculation became an ever more difficult source of contention between the governments.

In 2010 and 2011, the ABG began doing what it should have done from 2005 – that is, it made its own calculations of the RDG amounts that should have been paid annually. These indicated that the annual amount payable was over K60 million (over four times more than the K15 million actually paid annually). Further the unacknowledged and unpaid arrears amounted to over K200 million.

Since 2011 there have been increasingly acrimonious exchanges over the issues here. They remain unresolved. It is true that the National Government has made other funds available, notably a Special Intervention Fund of K500 million for major infrastructure to be made available at K100 million per year from 2011. So far only K300 million has been paid. It is most unlikely to be paid in 2016 due to the current fiscal crisis facing PNG. While payments received have been a welcome additional source of project funding, it is not the grant funding available to the ABG intended by the BPA.

Without the RDG paid at the constitutionally guaranteed levels, the ABG does not have available to it the necessary financial resources that the goals of the BPA indicated were necessary. In particular, because it was always understood that Recurrent Grant expenditure would be virtually tied to meeting costs of existing services, the RDG would be the main source of ABG discretionary funds.

In the absence of the correct levels of RDG, we in the ABG could be excused for feeling that our role has been reduced to little more than oversight of basic service delivery! So much for the goal of achieving self-determination through autonomy!

  1. Accountability

Another tragedy of the Bougainville conflict was the severe undermining of the high standards of financial management and accountability that the previous North Solomons Provincial Government had developed. There is no doubt that financial management and accountability standards reduced dramatically during the 1990s. Corrupt practices crept in that are now difficult to eradicate. But their eradication is a major focus of the major reforms involved in the Bougainville Public Service. Corrupt officers will be replaced. Accountability mechanisms are being strengthened. Our new internal audit office established in 2015 is already having an impact.

  1. Deciding the Future of Panguna, or Further Large-scale Mining

A major set of issues challenging all three ABG Presidents and their governments (the Kabui government elected in mid-2005, the Tanis government elected in December 2008, and the Momis governments elected in 2010 and 2015) has involved the future of large-scale mining. There are two distinct issues here. One is whether the Panguna mine should re-open. The second is whether any other large-scale mines should be permitted.

Some Bougainvilleans completely oppose either form of large-scale mining. But my strong impression from my wide travels and consultations all over Bougainville is that a solid majority is open to both possibilities. However, all insist that any new mining that occurs must be under a totally different set of conditions than those under which the colonial regime imposed the Panguna mine’s operations on Bougainville.

Further, most such Bougainvilleans are open to resumption of Panguna by BCL. That company clearly accepts responsibility for much of what went wrong in the 1980s. There is concern that a new mine operator may reject any responsibility for mine legacy issues.

The ABG has responded to demands that mining only occur under new and fair conditions accepted by landowners. Its law provides that owners of customary land also own all minerals on, in or under their land. Such rights are accompanied by landowner veto rights over either or both intensive mineral exploration on their land, and/or the grant of licences for mining development.

As a result, neither Panguna nor any other mine will open in the future without landowner agreement. That will be determined by democratic associations. In the Panguna case, since 2011, the landowner communities in the areas of the former leases associated with the mine (and some adjoining areas) have established nine associations. The executives were elected through general meetings attended by a total of about 2,500 landowners.

No decision about the future of Panguna has yet been made by those associations. Indeed, the ABG has nor requested them to make any such decision. But solely at the initiative of a broadly representative meeting of over 50 senior landowner community leaders in July 2012, the ABG has worked with the associations towards holding a preliminary reconciliation (Bel Kol) with BCL. The aim in 2012 was to enable BCL to establish a presence in Bougainville needed to prepare for possible discussions about negotiations.

But there has been an hiatus since August 2014. ABG mining law stripped BCL of most of its tenements. It was left only with an exploration licence over its former Special Mining Lease. The mining giant, Rio Tinto, 53.6 majority shareholder in BCL, then decided to review its ‘investment’ in BCL. That resulted in most of the tentative steps towards possible negotiations being put on hold. Rio Tinto recently advised the ABG that its review may not be completed till late 2016.

In the meantime, additional complexity has resulted from a series of National Government initiatives since 2014 to purchase the Rio Tinto 53.6 per cent equity in BCL. Together with its existing 19.3 per cent equity, that would make PNG 72.9 per cent majority shareholder in BCL. The ABG is unclear why the National Government has demonstrated such determination in relation to the purchase of the equity – though that has not prevented some speculation on the possible issues involved!

The President has consistently informed the Prime Minister, in the strongest terms, that these proposals are not acceptable to Bougainville. And that indeed, if implemented, the proposals would risk conflict.

He has advised both the Prime Minister and Rio Tinto that if, as seems increasingly likely, Rio decides to end its involvement in BCL, then the Rio equity should be transferred to the ABG and former Panguna leases landowners, without payment. Further, Rio Tinto must take full responsibility for an environmental clean up and mine closure program that deals properly with the major mine legacy issues.

In relation to whether other large-scale mines should be permitted in Bougainville, the Bougainville Mining Act provides several important protections. They protect not only landowners likely to be impacted by any particular project, but also the wider Bougainville community.

One protection is the adoption under the Act of the reservation of almost all of Bougainville (other than the BCL leases) from mining exploration and development, under the terms of a 1971 mining moratorium imposed by the colonial administration. That moratorium can only be lifted, wholly or in part, by the ABG Cabinet, but only after debate on the proposed decision in the ABG legislature. With the Bougainville Mining Department getting ready to manage mining tenement applications, the ABG Cabinet decided in March 2016 that in advance of even considering a decision on the future of the moratorium, there should be wide public debate on the issues involved.

But with the ABG in fiscal crisis (because of PNG’s own fiscal crisis) we do not have the funds necessary for an extensive public awareness and consultation program. So as a substitute, we decided to initiate public debate through a two stage debate in the ABG legislature. The first stage was a debate in early April. When it was adjourned, all members were asked to consult their constituents on the issues involved, with a view to a debate with expanded scope at the next meeting of the House. Only after that will the Cabinet consider a possible decision on the future of the moratorium.

The President has publicly spelt out his view. He argues that the moratorium should be only partially lifted. That would provide ongoing protection to Bougainvilleans. It would also enable us to assess how well our new tenement administration system operates.

The other major protections under the Bougainville Mining Act are first, the veto powers of landowners of any exploration or mining licence application, and second the prohibition on the operation, at any time, of more than two very large mines. But a concern expressed by the President about possible full lifting of the moratorium is that there would be no limit on the number of smaller open cut or underground mines (save to the extent that landowners veto such developments).

So I’m sure you can see the extent of the leadership challenges facing the ABG in relation to decisions on the future of Panguna and other large-scale mines.

  1. Gender Equality

While most Bougainvillean language and culture groups adhere strongly to matrilineal descent principles, this does not equate to anything like matriarchy. Males in the matrilineal societies are full members of the same clan-based landowning groups that their mothers, sisters, and maternal aunts and nieces belong to. More important, it is males that generally take on public roles of speaking for their lineage in decision-making about land – and about many other important matters at the ‘village-level’. Consequently, many Bougainvilleans tend to see little basis for roles for women in public life outside the village.

The Bougainville Constitution seeks equality for all, and fair representation of women on all constitutional and other bodies. It also seeks recognition and encouragement of women’s roles in both ‘traditional’ and ‘modern’ Bougainville society. It specifically seeks development of those roles ‘to take account of changing circumstances’.

It is difficult, however, to achieve rapid change to deeply ingrained cultural norms. For that reason alone, progress towards our constitutional goal of much greater gender equality has so far been slow. The first step – three reserved seats for women in the ABG House of Representatives, out of a total of 40 seats – was a welcome signal of change. But it was far from a clarion call for real equality.

A strong move has recently been made, however, in that direction. This involves an ABG Cabinet decisions on developing a new draft Community Government Act. It should be ready for debate in the House in June. It involves a new local-level government system, to replace the Council of Elders (or COE) system set up under 1996 Bougainville legislation.

Instead of the COEs, which were made up mainly of unelected traditional leaders, ,– and traditional leaders will continue their roles in village-level governments.

Each community government will have a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 12 wards, and each ward will elect two members – one female and one male. Each community government will have a Chair and a Deputy Chair. If the Chair is a female, the Deputy must be a male, and vice versa. Following the second Community Government general elections, the ‘gender of the member chosen as Chair … must not be the same as the gender of the person who was Chair immediately before the … election’.

In this way, the Bougainville Community Government Bill, when enacted as law, will ensure not only that there are equal numbers of men and women elected to community governments, but also that over time, women will have equal opportunity to hold the senior ‘executive’ positions in community governments.

  1. That Referendum on Bougainville’s Future Political Status

Little more needs to be said here about the referendum, other than to emphasise that the ABG has heavy constitutional and political responsibilities in relation to the referendum preparations. It is now increasingly likely to be held in 2019. Following the conduct of the referendum, the ABG will need to shoulder even more significant responsibilities, in terms of negotiating with PNG on implementation of the outcome and managing the ensuing situation.

  1. Deeply Misleading Public Commentary

An unexpected challenge for the ABG has been the sometimes amazing extent of deeply misleading public commentary on Bougainville, the ABG, its mining policy, and related matters. This commentary began mainly in 2012 as the ABG moved to develop its own mining laws.

The main attacks have come from two sources. One involves small groups in Bougainville. The other is a closely linked external network. Their main ‘message’ is that – in some way never explained, and with no credible evidence ever provided – the ABG is under the control of, or part of a conspiracy with, Rio Tinto, BCL, Australia and PNG. This conspiracy (or so they say) is intended to force the re-opening of the Panguna mine against the united opposition of the people of Bougainville.

The small group inside Bougainville involves a few foreign ‘adventurers’ seeking control of mining resources. They do so by fostering links with Bougainville factions. The ‘adventurers’ and their local supporters, fear that ABG mining policy and legislation will limit their opportunities.

The external network centres on UK-based Australian academic activist, Kristian Lasslett. His network comprises his close associates, including: the NGO, Jubilee Australia; the two blogs run by the PNG-based Bismarck Ramu Group – PNG Mine Watch and PNG Exposed; the Bougainville Freedom Movement; a group of criminologists supposedly studying ‘state crime’, calling itself the ‘State Crime Initiative’; and an Australian activist journalist, Anthony Loewenstein.

All network elements have their own ideological positions that they project onto Bougainville. They do so with virtually no understanding of, or interest in, what is really happening in Bougainville. They do not need much in the way of evidence, mainly because they have no interest in understanding our complex reality. Rather, they pick and choose a bit of information here, an opinion expressed there, and twist what little they have to fit their own pre-conceived theoretical or ideological position.

The misinformation that they put out has very little impact in Bougainville. But the internal and external contributors are mutually reinforcing. The external network undoubtedly provides encouragement to the foreign adventurers and their associates in Bougainville.

The misleading commentary does also perhaps influence perceptions of Bougainville by uninformed observers outside Bougainville. So while not a major leadership challenge, it is certainly one that we would prefer to do without.

  1. Information, Awareness and Public Consultation

The final leadership challenge I will mention involves the grave difficulties we face in providing accurate information to the people of Bougainville.

Perhaps 90 per cent of Bougainvilleans live in mainly small, scattered hamlets in rural areas. Many are in remote areas, completely inaccessible by road or air. In our post-conflict situation, as we seek to implement the complex BPA and constitutional arrangements, it is very challenging indeed to get accurate and balanced information to our people.

The misleading commentary – especially what we might call the Lasslett network – regularly attacks us for inadequate consultation on mining policy and laws. Yet we have allocated far more effort and resources to consultation on these issues than has ever been done in PNG – with the one, and truly remarkable, exception of the consultation by the pre-Independence consultation by the PNG Constitutional Planning Committee. That was under the leadership of current ABG President, John Momis, a truly committed advocate and practitioner of public consultation.

What our uninformed critics fail to acknowledge is the grave challenges involved in carrying out effective consultation in Bougainville’s situation. Radio coverage extends to about 30 per cent of Bougainville. Newspapers have limited reach. The cost of carrying out broad-based face-to-face consultation is astronomical.

We are, however, working hard to improve our capacities in this regard. We are doing that with a particular eye to what we know will be the need for extensive public consultation on many aspects of referendum preparations and post-referendum decision-making. We have commissioned research on the ‘communication landscape’ in Bougainville. It involves a Bougainville Audience Study. That has included a survey of over 800 people in all our 13 districts. It is providing data on how people gain access to information, what sources they regard as most reliable, their knowledge of key issues or concepts such as autonomy, independence, referendum. We expect the final report in May.

With the help of the information and analysis provided by the report, we will analyse the possibilities. We will seek PNG Government and donor support to assist us in improving our consultation capabilities in advance of the referendum preparations.

In conclusion, ladies and gentlemen:

While undoubtedly the ABG faces many complex and difficult leadership challenges, we are facing them honestly. We constantly explore our best options for dealing with them. Although our resources are extremely limited, we work hard to change that situation, and to face our challenges head on.

I can say little more than that.

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you a little of our experience so far in meeting those leadership challenges that my topic today asked me to address

Bougainville Referendum News : Developing a ‘Whole-of-ABG’ Rolling Plan for Referendum Preparations”

Nisira

Bougainville Vice-President and Minister responsible for the Referendum Patrick Nisira,

In connection with Referendum preparations, there is to be a significant meeting held in Port Moresby on Tuesday 19 and Wednesday 20 April. Its a meeting of the Joint Bougainville Referendum Committee (joint between the National Government and the ABG) which will be discussing key issues about referendum preparations, including:

a. the process for establishing the agency for conducting the Referendum;

b. the process for determining the date for the referendum (and in particular, whether determinations on weapons disposal and good governance are just matters to be taken into account when the two governments consult on setting a date within the five year period between mid-2015 and mid-2020 within which the Referendum MUST be held, or, alternatively, whether they are conditions precedent that must be met, with failure to meet them permitting the National Government to refuse to the referendum being held;

c. Development of an overall plan for preparations for the referendum, inclusive of steps, timelines, budget, and funding.

The ABG is proposing that the meeting  be opened by statements given by the new Minister for Bougainville Affairs (Joe Lera) and Bougainville Vice-President and Minister responsible for the Referendum (Patrick Nisira), and that the outcomes of the subsequent discussions between the officials will be reported back to those two, as well as President Momis, at the end of the discussions.

 Background

A 2 day workshop that the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG)  held in early March for its ministers and senior officials around the theme of “Developing a ‘Whole-of-ABG’ Rolling Plan for Referendum Preparations”.

SEE PAPER HERE : Referendum Overview 2016 – 32 Pages

The National 14 April 2016_Page_2JM 78

Pictured above the Father of PNG  Grand Chief Sir Michael Thomas Somare GCL GCMG CH CF SSI KSG PC MP (born 9 April 1936), who celebrated his 80 th birthday last week with the Father of the Bougainville referendum James Tanis

THE BOUGAINVILLE REFERENDUM

AN OVERVIEW OF THE ARRANGEMENTS

Referendum Overview 2016 – 32 Pages

by Anthony Regan

3rd Draft – 21 March 2016

  1. INTRODUCTORY ISSUES

This paper provides an overview of origins, intentions, sources, and main features of the constitutional arrangements for the ‘Referendum on the future political status of Bougainville’ (the Bougainville Referendum). It must include a ‘choice of separate independence for Bougainville’, and must be held before mid-2020. The paper also outlines work done so far to prepare for the Referendum, and identifies and discusses major steps required to prepare, conduct, and deal with the outcomes of, the Referendum.

A referendum is a process for making decisions, mainly about issues of great importance. The categories of issues dealt with in referendums (or referenda) is extensive. They include: approving new constitutions (as in Kenya in 2010), or amendments to existing constitutions (as under Australia’s Constitution); proposing or even making new laws (as in Switzerland and with citizens initiative referenda in some states of the United States); or resolving major divisive issues (as in Britain’s planned June 2016 referendum on exiting the European Union).

Since 1990 over 50 referenda have been held on independence for a country or part of a country. Usually such referenda are conducted as part of efforts to resolve disputes, often (though not always) violent conflicts. Examples include referenda on: Eritrea’s independence from Ethiopia, 1993; Quebec’s independence from Canada in 1995; East Timor’s independence from Indonesia, 1999; Scotland’s Independence from the United Kingdom, in 2014. Of course, issues about sovereignty can be particularly sensitive and divisive, and are often difficult to prepare for and manage.

Very few countries have ever included in a national constitution provision for a deferred referendum on separation of part of the country, required to be held within a specified period. The only examples we know of are: France (in relation to New Caledonia, where a referendum must be held by 2018); and Sudan (in relation to South Sudan, where a referendum was held in 2011, about six years after the Sudan Constitution was amended to provide for it). So Bougainvilleans are a privileged people to have achieved the opportunity to make a decision about their future in this way. In all three cases such provision was included in the national constitution as part of a broader package intended to find ways of ending bitter and violent conflict. Autonomy was intended to operate in the period before the deferred referendum, in the hope (for some parties in both New Caledonia and Sudan) that it would help resolve divisions before the referendum was held, perhaps leading to a situation where the referendum might not be necessary, or might be deferred, or perhaps contributing to a referenda outcome in favour of continued unity.

Although referenda can help resolve difficult conflicts, they can also carry risks. They can be complex and expensive to run. They can be divisive, in preparation, in conduct, and in implementation of results. Problems often arise from misleading and divisive campaigns by political leaders on the question in the referendum. Leaders can be under great pressure to attempt to influence the result through manipulation of the process, and intimidation of voters.

Although usually intended to resolve conflict, holding a referendum can contribute to conflict, especially in a country where there are pre-existing ethnic, religious, or other kinds of divisions. One particular danger is that the outcome of a referendum on a divisive matter leaves a significant minority feeling strongly that the majority vote causes them serious disadvantage. Violent conflict has occurred in the process of implementation of outcomes of referenda in the past 25 years, including in relation to independence referenda – for example, in East Timor and in South Sudan.

A difficulty associated with an independence referendum is that it involves a major decision on long-term arrangements being made at a particular time, often without adequate information about future circumstances. For example, Scotland relies heavily on revenue from petroleum resources, which it would have needed to rely upon if its 2014 referendum had resulted in independence. But little more than a year after the referendum, oil prices were about 25 per cent of what they had been at the time of the vote. A vote in favour of independence where voters had assumed the prosperity of Scotland was assured could have been ill-founded.

So in preparing for the Bougainville referendum, it will be important to consider both the advantages and disadvantages that can flow from them, learn from experience of referenda held elsewhere, and do everything possible to minimise the chance of serious problems occurring.

A starting point is to develop a clear understanding of the Referendum arrangements, so that in planning for and managing it, everything possible is done to ensure arrangements work as intended, potential problems are anticipated and contingencies provided for. As yet, however, the Referendum arrangements are not widely known and understood. Important aspects are often the subject of confusion, uncertainty and misunderstanding.

For example, it has been widely believed in Bougainville that the BPA required the referendum be held in 2015, rather than in the five year window beginning in 2015 as is actually provided. Further, some Bougainvilleans have asked whether, in the absence of a decision by the PNG Parliament on the referendum outcome by 2020, the BPA and the PNG Constitutional Laws implementing it will cease to have effect, resulting in autonomy ceasing to operate, the immunity from prosecution for former combatants and other aspects of the BPA ceasing to have effect. In fact, there is no basis at all for such concern.

Perhaps the greatest confusion and uncertainty involves two sets of questions of great importance to continuing peace in Bougainville:

  1. whether PNG has the authority to defer the referendum beyond 2020 – in particular, should it be determined that requirements as to weapons disposal and good governance have not been met; and
  2. whether a vote in favour of independence requires PNG to implement the outcome, Bougainville then having an immediate right to independence.

Both sets of questions are discussed elsewhere in this paper.

Reasons for such confusion etc., include: most people involved having had no experience of referenda; the history of the arrangements for the Bougainville Referendum is complex; almost 15 years have elapsed since the BPA was signed, and few people other than some who were deeply involved in the negotiations have a clear memory and understanding of what was agreed; and the arrangement are set out in several documents, the details and relationships of which are little known.

This overview aims to provide information needed for improved understanding of the arrangements.[1] The history and intention of relevant parts of the BPA and the Constitutional Laws is a particular focus, for that is often little known, and when clarified often provides a good basis for improved understanding of the arrangements. Where relevant, the paper also examines the links between the referendum arrangements and other aspects of the BPA. It also:

  1. identifies some risks involved in the Referendum in respect of which avoidance or management action may be needed, and
  2. outlines issues to be taken into account when considering whether the Referendum outcome will be credible, an issue likely to be of importance when consulting with the National Government (and the international community) about the results of the Referendum.

[1] To assist readers to locate information, section numbers and pages of relevant laws and reports are included.

Download Full 32 pages here :

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

momis 15 

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

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

Bougainville President, Chief John Momis Pictured above

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

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

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

The National 14 April 2016_Page_1

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

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

The President said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chief John L. Momis President Autonomous Region of Bougainville