Bougainville Mining News: Momis slams PNG Minister’s statement as “misleading and mischievous nonsense “

Micah

Mr. Micah’s statement that Kumul Minerals will keep the shares until then is nothing but misleading and mischievous nonsense. It is intended to give the impression that somehow he and Kumul Minerals are in control of the share, and concerned to look after Bougainville’s interests. Nothing could be further from the truth.

‘Mr. Micah has been trying to get control of Rio Tinto’s BCL shares for over two years. He has had secret dealings with Rio.

I call on the Prime Minister to overrule his irresponsible minister. He must protect the peace process by transferring the 17.4 per cent shareholding to the ABG.”

Bougainville’s President, Dr. John Momis, described a statement on the Tinto shares in BCL by Ben Micah, Minister for Petroleum and Energy ( Pictured above with PNG PM O’Neil ) as ‘misleading and mischievous nonsense’.

He was referring to public debate following Rio Tinto’s recent decision to divest its 53.8 per cent majority shareholding in Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL). Rio has transferred its shares to a Trust, with 36.4 per cent available to the Bougainville Government, and 17.4 per cent to the PNG government. With its existing 19.3 per cent shareholding, this would make PNG equal shareholder with Bougainville. The PNG government shares were accepted by Petromin the day Rio announced its decision. Bougainville has yet to announce its decision on the shares.

But on 7 July Mr. Micah was reported as claiming that PNG owned company, Kumul Mineral Holdings Ltd will keep the 36.4 per cent offered to Bougainville until the ABG accepts the shares.

President Momis said:

‘Kumul Minerals Holdings, Mr. Micah, and the National Government have no role in relation to the 36.4 per cent BCL shares available to the ABG. Those shares were transferred by Rio Tinto to an Australian-based Trust – Equity Trustees Limited – under a Shares Trust Deed. The ABG has two months in which to decide whether to accept the transfer of the shares.

‘Mr. Micah’s statement that Kumul Minerals will keep the shares until then is nothing but misleading and mischievous nonsense. It is intended to give the impression that somehow he and Kumul Minerals are in control of the share, and concerned to look after Bougainville’s interests. Nothing could be further from the truth.

‘Mr. Micah has been trying to get control of Rio Tinto’s BCL shares for over two years. He has had secret dealings with Rio. In December 2015, he told me that the National Government must buy the Rio shares for US$100 million, in order to stop Rio selling the shares to outside interests. When I subsequently questioned Rio representatives in February they denied any such deal.

‘As President of Bougainville, I have no trust at all in Mr. Micah having any role in relation to these shares. If, as reported on Friday, the Prime Minister has no knowledge of the transfer of the 17.4 per cent of BCL shares from Rio to Petromin on 30 June, then clearly the evil and irresponsible move to make PNG equal shareholder in BCL together with the ABG has been cooked up between Rio and Mr. Micah. That deal must now be undone.

‘I call on the Prime Minister to overrule his irresponsible minister. He must protect the peace process by transferring the 17.4 per cent shareholding to the ABG. The ABG will then be majority shareholder, with PNG still holding its existing 19.4 per cent. The ABG accepts that the National Government should retain a role in BCL, but only if the ABG controls mining policy, and the company that owns the Panguna mine. ~`

‘BCL hold only an exploration licence over the former Special Mining Lease at Panguna. Under the Bougainville Mining Act, if 25 per cent or more of shares in a company holding an exploration licence are transferred, the ABG MUST initiate action to terminate the lease. The transfer by Rio to the Trust means that the termination process must now begin. The ABG Minister for Mining, Robin Wilson, has given instructions to the Secretary of the ABG Mining Department to issue a notice to BCL to show cause why its licence should not be terminated.

‘If the National Government keeps the 17.4 per cent shares, then nothing will stop the termination process being completed. Then BCL will have its cash and its Panguna drilling data, but no licence in Bougainville. That would be a bad outcome for everyone. We prefer to work with the National Government. But that must be on a basis where the ABG is in control of Bougainville’s mining.’

The President also referred to Mr. Micah’s claims of great support for the PPP on the basis of the very recent victory of PPP party candidate, Timothy Masiu, in the by-election for South Bougainville Open. He said:

‘The result does not indicate strong support in Bougainville for PPP – far from it. Instead it was a victory for a well-known person from a well-known Buin area family, who happened to have strong financial support from MR. Micah’s PPP party. The policies of the PPP and the roles of its leader, Mr. Micah, do not have support in Bougainville.

‘If the voters of South Bougainville had known at the time they cast their votes that Mr. Micah was arranging with Rio Tinto for the National Government to become equal largest shareholder in BCL, then Mr. Masiu would have been completely rejected as a PPP candidate.

‘I call on the new MP, Mr. Timothy Masiu, to explain to Mr. Micah the deep sensitivity amongst Bougainvilleans about the future of the Panguna Mine. I call on him to convince Mr. Micah to support the transfer to the ABG of the 17.4 per cent shares in BCL. Mr. Masiu must persuade Mr. Micah to transfer the shares if he is to have any chance of returning as a PPP MP in 2017.’

Hon. Chief Dr John L. Momis, GCL, MHR

President, ARoB

10 July 2016

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

bouganville_2009

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

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

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

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

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

See Attached

Momis to ICMM – 4 July 2016

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

President Momis said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John L. Momis

President, ARoB

7 July 2016

Bougainville Mining News :Rio Tinto gives up Bougainville Copper stake worth $51 Billion

 Oz

 

“Rio Tinto Group has given away its stake in the company that owns a mine in Papua New Guinea with potential copper and gold reserves worth $51 billion.

The London-based miner has transferred its 54 percent holding in Bougainville Copper Ltd., owner of the abandoned Panguna mine, to an independent trustee “for no consideration,” Rio said in a statement Thursday. The trustee will manage the distribution of shares to national and local governments.

Panguna, Bougainville Copper’s asset on Bougainville Island, was shut due to local unrest in 1989. The company estimated in its 2014 annual report that reserves stood at 5.3 million metric tons of copper and 19.3 million ounces of gold. That would be worth about $51 billion at today’s prices.”

Bloomberg report

“Rio Tinto has today transferred its 53.8 per cent shareholding in Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) to an independent trustee.

Equity Trustees Limited will manage the distribution of these shares between the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) for the benefit of all the Panguna landowners and the people of Bougainville, and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea (PNG).”

Rio Tinto Media Release | 30 June 2016

Photo : Bougainville Revolutionary Army fighters look down on the Panguna mine in 1996

Under the trust deed, the ABG has the opportunity to receive 68 per cent of Rio Tinto’s shareholding (which equates to 36.4 per cent of BCL’s shares) from the independent trustee for no consideration and PNG is entitled to the remaining 32 per cent (which equates to 17.4 per cent of BCL’s shares).

The ABG and PNG will both hold an equal share in BCL of 36.4 per cent if the transfers are completed. This ensures both parties are equally involved in any consideration and decision-making around the future of the Panguna mine.

Rio Tinto Copper & Coal chief executive Chris Salisbury said “Our review looked at a broad range of options and by distributing our shares in this way we aim to provide landowners, those closest to the mine, and all the people of Bougainville a greater say in the future of Panguna. The ultimate distribution of our shares also provides a platform for the ABG and PNG Government to work together on future options for the resource.”

In accordance with the existing management agreement with BCL, Rio Tinto will today give the required six months’ notice to terminate the arrangement. Although Rio Tinto will no longer hold any interest in BCL, Rio Tinto will continue to meet its obligations under the agreement during that period to ensure an orderly transition in the shareholdings of the company. BCL chairman Peter Taylor will resign with immediate effect but he will continue to be available to provide services to the board during this transition period.

Note to editors

The Trust Deed determines that should either beneficiary of the trust not apply for the transfer of the BCL shares attributable to them from the trustee within two months, then those shares will be made available to the other part

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

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“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

 

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“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 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.

 

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Bougainville News: People, not international mining companies, must benefit: Kauona

Sam

“Bougainville has the potential to drive its economic capacity forward after the proposed referendum in 2019,

To boost economic development in Bougainville, its leaders must work towards one common purpose – to target the mineral resource industry and other important sectors which can generate revenue.

The onus lay with the Autonomous Bougainville Government to lift the mining moratorium so that the people could partner potential explorers.”

Former Bougainville Revolutionary Army commander Sam Kauona.

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;

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.

PUBLIC LECTURE in Canberra  by PATRICK NISIRA, VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE AUTONOMOUS REGION OF BOUGAINVILLE

The lifting of the mining moratorium will be discussed when the ABG meets next month. Kauona said the Bougainville resource owners representative committee had been formed to encourage locals to enter partnership deals in the industry.

“We are encouraging locals who have minerals to register their groups and negotiate with potential explorers,” he said.

Kauona said it would also stop Rio Tinto or the Bougainville Copper Ltd from resuming operation in Bougainville.
“The old mining lease gave the right to Rio Tinto and BCL to own every mineral which the locals did not benefit from. And that is what we don’t want,” he said.

Kauona accused Rio Tinto and BCL of not compensating the lives lost during the civil crisis.

The National
Copyright © 2016 The National Online. All Rights Reserved

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

 

 

 

Memories of the Bougainville Crisis: Veronica Hatutasi’s ‘Behind the Blockade’

BV

For all that has been written about it, the Bougainville Crisis risks becoming obscure in plain sight.

The lack of a general history makes understanding the conflict a daunting prospect for the beginner, and the more specialised literature usually assumes a very great deal of knowledge about Papua New Guinean politics and history and about the anthropology of Bougainville.

Moreover, the factionalisation so characteristic of the conflict itself was also characteristic of its representation outside Bougainville. Journalistic accounts from the period are thus often partisan. Papua New Guinea’s strategy of laying siege to the island, establishing a blockade in March 1990 which lasted, in some form or another, for six years, meant that this initial wave of reportage was often as doubtful, and news about Bougainville were extremely difficult to come by. It is now 15 years since the Peace Agreement of 2001 brought a semblance of normality to the islands, but this is a ‘fragile peace’, as if often remarked in Bougainville. The understandable desire to care for and nurture this peace has, unfortunately, also led to unwillingness to write about the painful times.

Our surprising ignorance about one of the most high-profile conflict in the Pacific since World War II is nowhere deeper than in relation to social and political conditions in the period of government withdrawal and siege. And it is precisely this that Veronica Hatutasi’s new book Behind the Blockade, provides a glimpse of. It is not a general history, but rather a personal memoir. We read here, in often intimate terms, how the life of this young mother of four was upended by the crisis:

Hatutasi begins ‘living in utopia in Toniva’, a village immediately south of Kieta, but her starting anecdote – her son comes into trouble with the Highlands crew of a PMV – sounds a foreboding note amidst the domestic idyll of children playing on the beach to the sound of 1980s pop and country music. It is not long before the cocktail of uneven development, landowner grievances and nationalist aspirations tears Hatutasi’s utopia apart.

Soon shots are being fired and PNG launches its unmeasured and brutal response; from there the spiral into conflict is inexorable. As the crisis envelops the island, we sense in the writer a growing engagement. When the blockade falls, the family relocates to Siwai: the amenities of town life are gone, and in page by page of Hatutasi’s narrative, the commodities, services and safety of her world exhaust themselves. The conversational prose almost masks the harrowing, ruthless process underway as society is stressed to a breaking point; food is exhausted, and Hatutasi digresses on the fact that her last batteries are maintaining the last clock in operation. Some digressions in the book are distracting, but this one, in which she notes her commitment to maintain time strikes me as deeply significant. A final piece of the former world is cultivated.

Over the next few chapters, we follow her as the situation continues to worsen. We meet peacemakers such as the Catholic priest Father Dario Monegatti, who offered himself in exchange for people accused of sorcery; we get a sense of growing polarisation and factionalisation as the conflict evolves into a fratricidal civil war amongst Bougainvilleans. We find little, but extremely significant facts, such as the continued functioning of a cash economy, the fearful reverence of Francis Ona, whose name becomes taboo, the subtle clues that suspicion has seeped into every fissure of the social fabric. There is much here for the historian, and the book fits into the budding literature of Melanesian women’s memoirs, the obvious precedent being the testimonials offered in Sirivi and Havini’s …As Mothers of the Land [pdf].

After two sections narrating the crisis, the third switches somewhat abruptly into a diary form to chronicle Hatutasi’s experience during what she dubs ‘the Crisis within the Crisis’ as Siwai factions turn on each other. This section is possibly of greatest value to historians, as it gives a sense of the forms of governance that were attempted in the vaccuum left behind the blocade. For the historian, it is also valuable as it makes Hatutasi’s position in the conflict increasingly evident – indeed, she emerges as an antagonist of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA), and in this respect her descriptions are usefully read along …As Mothers of the Land, as that book presents a more pro-BRA perspective. In Sirivi and Havini’s volume, the BRA commanders treat people in the areas they control responsibly; in Hatutasi’s those people are described as human shields. Ultimately, the blockade comes into view as established by PNG, but maintained by the BRA.

By August 1992, the family is evacuated to Port Moresby. Unfortunately, the last two sections of the book are not nearly as vivid as the first, and as Hatutasi comes to reflect on the Crisis, there isn’t much by the way of critical consideration of her own position within the conflict, or to what extent her knowledge of conditions in Bougainville is particular to her own experience. Hatutasi becomes a journalist for the sadly defunct Times of PNG, writing under the pseudonym Niko Numana. By now, Hatutasi is working to counter BRA ‘propaganda.’ I do not wish to impugn Hatutasi’s testimonial: it would be absurd to demand balance of a memoir. It is candid, moving, and it is essential reading for those interested in the conflict. But as the book moves into its final stages, it becomes less organised, and the omissions more serious: the life of Bougainvilleans in Port Moresby during the Crisis was not easy, but her account does not convey this as effectively as terse timekeeping of her diary, or the narrative of fall from idyll at the beginning. We learn nothing, for example, of the tense days of the Sandline crisis. Hatutasi is, by her own admission, writing from ‘the sideline’ here. The book concludes with a description of peace initiatives which is frankly superfluous. It is a somewhat unfortunate end to a personal and intriguing work.

It is impossible to greet the publication of a memoir such as this with anything but enthusiasm: Bougainvilleans are writing about the Crisis, Bougainvillean women are setting to paper their point of view. But I do want to add my own foreboding note on this occasion: this is a personal memoir and must be read as such. Reading the book as a historiography would do it a serious injustice. It does not have the academic machinery and careful fact-checking to satisfy a historian. I mean this not as a criticism of the book, but rather of the environment into which it is being launched. For want of accessible, general overviews, or for that matter systematic study of the Crisis’ social realities, Bougainville’s history is becoming obscure right before our eyes: and so, the context necessary to understand Hatutasi’s book is difficult to acquire, the significance of its digressions harder to notice to the uninitiated. It is nonetheless compelling. I hope a narrative such as that provided by Hatutasi, at least in the first three sections, compels more writers, especially Bougainvillean writers, to attend to the difficulty of their past, which is painful and conflicted, fragile and necessary.

Originally published here

Veronica Hatutasi, 2016. Behind the Blockade. Boroko, PNG: Word Publishing Company.

Thiago Cintra Oppermann is a Research Fellow in the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) program at The Australian National University.