Bougainville News : Let me make it clear that the current ABG under my Presidency is not colluding with any mining company or any landowner group to redevelop the Panguna Mine at this time.

Press statement from the office of the president on the issue of the Panguna Mine re-opening.

The idea of Caballus operating a mine on Bougainville has long been shelved after their failed attempt to co-sponsor the mining amendments with the former Momis led ABG.

Let me make it clear that the current ABG under my Presidency is not colluding with Caballus, RTZ, Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) or any landowner group to redevelop the Panguna Mine at this time.

Statements by companies or landowner groups with a vested interest in Panguna who claim to be working with the current ABG are false; we are not backing any company or any landowner group to reopen the mine.

My government is committed protecting landowner rights from undue influence by persons wishing to solicit favours from the Autonomous Bougainville Government in an attempt to reopen the mine.

Any company wishing to develop Bougainville’s mineral resources be it Panguna or the exploration of a green field site must come through the proper channels.

Bougainville has a Mining Act that governs the exploitation of our mineral resources, any parties wishing to be involved in the mining industry on Bougainville must comply with the laws of the land.

As it stands there is a moratorium in place over Panguna as well as the surrounding areas around the proximity of the mine.

The Panguna Mine remains a very sensitive issue on Bougainville and parties wishing to reopen it must maintain a sense of decorum that respects the land, the landowners and the ABG.

We cannot continue to make unfounded claims that are based on promises from the previous regime and its band of leaders and public servants who sought to manipulate the people of Bougainville and wantonly exploit its resources.

I urge leaders from the past government as well as the current ABG to refrain from making unsubstantiated claims over the future of the mine at this time.

Let us be frank in our dealings and be considerate of the welfare of all our people on Bougainville. It is high time we stopped using our Independence aspirations as a bargaining chip to further our personal agenda.

Hon. Ishmael Toroama MHR

President

https://www.abg.gov.pg/index.php/news/read/toroama-my-government-is-committed-in-protecting-landowner-rights?fbclid=IwAR0Uhgh0orzeP3lcVXqRxAwEdJJUtEpHImeFaM5RvUYhSTbGk6FPjUpea38

 

Bougainville News Alert : On the occasion of the signing of the Joint Communique by the Prime Minister of PNG and the President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government

In furthering the Bougainville Peace process in the Post Referendum period and having met 11 January 2020, we officially reaffirm and assure the people of Papua New Guinea and Bougainville that the Governments of PNG and Bougainville is committed to the process of the joint consultations on the outcome of the referendum.” 

The signing of the Joint Communique today signals our intention to immediately commence the joint consultations as is required by the National Constitution under Section 342 (1) and the Bougainville Peace Agreement under Clause 311 (b) for the Government of Papua New Guinea and the Autonomous Bougainville Government to consult over the outcome or result of the Bougainville referendum.

This Joint Communique affirms that as required by the Bougainville Peace Agreement, the referendum outcome will be subject to ratification (final decision making) of the National Parliament while Section 342 (2) of the National Constitution has made the decision of the National Parliament relating to the referendum result subject to the consultation under Section 342 (1).

  • The Joint Communique builds on the tremendous achievements of both Governments and establishes the following facts and principles of the Bougainville Peace process;
  • That the Bougainville Peace Agreement provides for a political right to Bougainvilleans to a referendum, among Bougainvilleans, on the future political status of Bougainville; and
  • That the National Government had guaranteed that political right through Section 338 (1) of the National Constitution; and
  • That the constitutional guarantee for the referendum under Section 338 (1) of the National Constitution depended on the fulfillment by the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) of conditions relating to weapons disposal and good governance, of which the ABG satisfactorily met; and
  • That the choice for separate independence was guaranteed under Section 339 (c) of the National Constitution as one of a number of possible choices available to Bougainvilleans in the referendum; and
  • That the both Governments had agreed to the definition of independence before the conduct of the referendum to mean an independent nation with sovereign powers and laws, recognized under international law and by other international states to be an independent state, separate from the state of Papua New Guinea, with a defined territory, inclusive of maritime boundaries and associated exclusive economic zones; and a government chosen by its people; and capacity to enter into and manage international relations and United Nations membership; and
  • That the referendum question and the following two choices presented to Bougainvilleans in the referendum were intended to facilitate a clear result: Option 1 – Greater Autonomy, and Option 2 – Independence; and
  • That the referendum was conducted by an impartial Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC), headed by Mr. Bertie Ahern of Ireland, which comprised of a fair number of representatives from the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government; and
  • That the referendum that was held between November and December 2019 and witnessed by international observers was free and fair, and according to observer groups “credible, transparent and inclusive”; and
  • That a total number of 181,067 Bougainvilleans voted in the referendum, and out of that 97.7 % of them chose independence; and
  • That the report of the Bougainville Referendum Commission was tabled in both the National Parliament and the Bougainville House of Representatives, and was unanimously endorsed by both parliaments.

In adopting fully these established facts and principles; We hereby agree that the upcoming joint consultations will be moderated by an appointed Moderator and will be, but not limited to, addressing the key issues on the future political status of Bougainville, the method of endorsement by the National Parliament and the Documentation of record of the joint consultation.

Finally, in memory of the late Sir Mekere Morauta, for his contributions to the Bougainville Peace process as a former Prime Minister of our Nation and for his role as a signatory to the Bougainville Peace Agreement in 2001, this Joint Communique embodies both our Government’s sincerity to continued peace by peaceful means.

God Bless our people.

Hon. JAMES MARAPE, MP, Prime Minister, PNG

Hon. ISHMAEL TOROAMA, President, ABG

 

Bougainville News Year 2021: President Ishmael Toroama has urged Bougainvilleans to stand firm in the region’s aspirations for political independence as Bougainville begins the new year.

President Ishmael Toroama has urged Bougainvilleans to stand firm in the region’s aspirations for political independence as Bougainville begins the new year.

President Toroama made this statement to youths from the different Christian denominations throughout Bougainville who gathered at Roreinang United Church Mission last week.

“The question we have to ask ourselves today is, are we one of those patriotic Bougainvilleans willing to go the distance to achieve Bougainville’s aspirations for independence?” the President said.

“Are we steadfast in our resolve to contribute to being responsible citizens and to create a workaholic society that is committed to Bougainville’s development and the welfare of its citizens?” President Toroama stated.

“Our people must not waiver in our journey to independence, we must unite, we must stand firm so shall we realize Bougainville’s aspirations on political independence as a sovereign nation,” President Toroama said.

“Our new political roadmap is the ninety-eight percent (98%) referendum vote where we voted for Bougainville’s independence,” the President added.

“The will of our people to be independent through the referendum has clearly outlined what the Autonomous Bougainville Government must work towards achieving for the people of Bougainville,” he said.

However, President Toroama also outlined that there are challenges along the way which his government will have to settle in terms of creating a socioeconomic base for the Bougainville to build its political foundations.

The Toroama government has so far begun its plans on reforming the ABG infrastructure to will reflect its priorities on being independence ready.

In its first hundred days the government has already initiated several major economic projects in South and Central Bougainville.

It has also instituted reforms in the Bougainville Public Service through contractual engagements of Senior Management Staff and made an initial move in the Arawa Township with the opening of the Law and Justice Office Complex.

Most of these reforms and development initiatives are part of President Toroama’s drive to see a holistic approach to Bougainville being socially, economically and politically independent.

 

Bougainville News Webinar Alert : The use of mobile technologies in the 2019 Bougainville referendum presents both opportunities and challenges for the future of democracy in the Pacific

 ” The use of mobile technologies in the 2019 Bougainville referendum presents both opportunities and challenges for the future of democracy in the Pacific, Amanda H A Watson, Jeremy Miller and Adriana Schmidt write.

In late 2019, the people of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea (PNG) voted in a non-binding referendum offering two choices: greater autonomy or independence. People voted overwhelmingly for independence (97.71 per cent) in what was widely regarded to be a successful process, with an informed and engaged citizenry.

In the pre-referendum period, there was a strong emphasis on the need for widespread voter education to enhance the credibility and legitimacy of the vote itself, and to maintain unity and peace. A number of initiatives were undertaken by the Bougainville government and other partners to overcome people’s lack of access to traditional mass media (radio, television and newspapers).”

This article is based upon a paper published by the ANU Department of Pacific Affairs (DPA) as part of its ‘Discussion paper’ series. The original paper can be found here.

The research will also be presented in a webinar on 27 October 2020. 

This article focuses on one initiative, a telephone information hotline that operated for eight weeks just before polling. It allowed people to ring a free-call number and hear pre-recorded messages about peacebuilding and the three pillars of the Bougainville Peace Agreement. Callers were able to press 1 to hear information on peacebuilding, 2 for autonomy, 3 for the referendum and 4 for weapons disposal.

Each message was less than two minutes and recordings were updated weekly. This provided about an hour’s worth of audio information in total. The service was promoted through traditional media channels, but principally through an introductory, automated ‘robocall’ from the President of Bougainville. This was followed by subsequent weekly text messages announcing the availability of new recordings. 

The service was the first of its kind in PNG and was envisaged as a short pilot to identify the usefulness of the technology for public information dissemination in Bougainville. It was implemented by the Autonomous Bougainville Government with the support of the PNG, Australian and New Zealand governments, and operated by Digicel.

Research into the efficacy of the service was undertaken during its final two weeks, just prior to polling. Eight group interviews were conducted with local community leaders, women and youths in a mix of rural and urban settings across Bougainville.

Of the 42 people who participated in the group interviews, 37 owned mobile telephones at the time of the research. Many of the handsets were basic mobile telephones – suitable for text messaging and calls only – rather than smartphones. Many handsets had flat batteries on the day of the group interview – this indicates a technological challenge of daily life in Bougainville, which has consequences for mobile telephone initiatives.

While 79,285 calls were made to the hotline over the eight-week pilot, overall, the knowledge of the telephone hotline amongst research participants was generally low. The automated ‘robocall’ from the President announcing the service was not in fact received by most participants, and many did not consistently receive the weekly text message reminders. This indicated that the strategy fell short of its promise, which reduced uptake of the service.

As intended, some users gathered in groups to listen to the recordings. Also, the hotline had been used in places where people had no access to radio and very limited access to other forms of media. Participants generally thought the hotline should be continued in the post-referendum period but suggested increasing awareness of the service itself.

There was much discussion about the need to improve mobile network coverage, which participants said was weak and inconsistent, with no coverage in some villages. There were also requests for improvements to other communication mediums, particularly radio broadcasting. Despite these challenges, it was perceived that referendum awareness had been thorough. Most participants felt they and their fellow community members had sufficient knowledge about the referendum and were ready to vote. 

The research found no striking differences in the awareness or use of the service by age or gender. Differences were noticeable, however, between the three regions of Bougainville regarding access to mobile network coverage, as well as access to other information and communication mediums. For example, in South Bougainville, participants reported substantial challenges with the quality and reach of mobile network signals and said that they had almost no access to radio stations, newspapers or television.

As Hogeveen argues, there is a trend in the Pacific region towards ‘digital aid’ in which international donors utilise information and communication technologies. The Bougainville hotline is one such example. Chand contends that, given limited access to radio, textbooks and other information sources, the utilisation of digital technologies could allow delivery of basic services in Bougainville. For example, as part of their emergency response to COVID-19, both the PNG and Bougainville governments are operating free-call telephone information hotlines for their citizens. 

The design of the referendum hotline was in line with published guidelines for the strategic use of mobile telephones in PNG. For instance, that technology should be simple to use for people with low literacy, numeracy and technical skills. This hotline was relatively simple to use, providing a free-call number, with four options of audio messages to listen to.

 Even so, some research participants did not understand how to select the four options or that the messages changed each week. Careful consideration of ‘mobile telephone literacy’ is needed in the design and promotion of future innovative services.

Research participants commented that the free-call design was beneficial for them. Lack of mobile telephone credit is a huge barrier for people throughout PNG, due to both affordability and logistical challenges of locating a place or method to buy credit. 

So, what are the implications for the delivery of public information in Bougainville and elsewhere in the Pacific? 

Effective government-to-people communications are vital for an informed and engaged citizenry and are essential for the effective operation of democracy. For Bougainville, it could be argued that the post-referendum negotiation process now taking place between the Bougainville and national governments requires an even more intensive communications and community engagement effort. If there are broader lessons to be learnt, it is that an engaged and informed population, reached through a range of mediums, can make a positive contribution to the process. 

If there are to be future iterations of a telephone hotline in Bougainville or elsewhere, it must be but one tool in an multi-channel effort. The technology must be pre-tested and well promoted. Research participants also suggested leveraging the hotline for use in community-based, face-to-face activities.

Some asked if the audio files could be made available through other means, such as flash drives. Sharing of digital content by Bluetooth or local Wi-Fi hotspots does present another opportunity for those with suitable devices.

Mobile telephones, particularly when paired with other mediums, can play a role in delivering civic education and increasing community engagement throughout the Pacific. However, the design of future mobile telephone-led interventions may benefit from being realistic about the effective reach of current mobile telephone service and infrastructure. 

This bigger issue of large information ‘blackspots’ in Bougainville, due to poor access to mobile telephony, radio or other information channels, will continue to challenge government and development communicators alike. Mobile telephone users in Bougainville struggle with accessing continuous, reliable mobile network coverage and keeping their handset batteries charged – and they want radio coverage restored to pre-conflict standards. Both in Bougainville and elsewhere in PNG, there is a large gap between ideal and actual service delivery. 

——-

This article is based upon a paper published by the ANU Department of Pacific Affairs (DPA) as part of its ‘Discussion paper’ series. The original paper can be found here. The research will also be presented in a webinar on 27 October 2020. 

Bougainville Mining News : ABG calls for submissions to #Bougainville Mining Bills : Submissions close 19 April

 

The Parliament’s Legislation Committee is conducting public enquiries into the following Government Bills: 

  1. BILL NUMBER ONE: Bougainville Mining (Amendment) Bill 2019;
  2. BILL NUMBER TWO: Bougainville Advance Holdings Trust Authorization Bill 2019;
  3. BILL NUMBER THREE: Bougainville Advance Mining Holdings Limited Authorization Bill 2019.

BILL NUMBER ONE seeks to amend the Bougainville Act 2015 to allow the Bougainville Executive Council, in conjunction with the Minister for Mineral and Energy Resources, to issue a Special Bougainville Exploration Licence or Mining Lease to a Special Bougainville Entity.

BILL NUMBER TWO seeks to establish a Trust (the Bougainville Advance Holdings Trust).

BILL NUMBER THREE seeks to establish Bougainville Advance Holdings (AROB) Ltd as a commercial enterprise and business platform.

See ABG Website

The Committee is calling for written submissions from interested persons and organizations. We ask that Submitters be clear in their submissions which Bill(s) they are offering a submission on.

The Committee invites public participation in the enquiry process. Written submissions addressing the Terms of Reference must be submitted to:

The Legislation Committee

Parliamentary Committee Secretariat Office  

Bougainville House of Representatives,

KUBU, Buka, Autonomous Region of Bougainville

Submitters can indicate whether they want to appear to give evidence orally.

Further information about this enquiry is available and can be obtained directly at the Committee Secretariat Office location at Parliament House.

The Committee will consider requests that a submission remain confidential and not be released to the public.

THE CLOSING DATE FOR WRITTEN SUBMISSIONS IS 19th April 2019

TERMS OF REFERENCE

On Wednesday 13th February 2019 the House referred for the second time to the Legislation Committee, three Government Bills titled:

  1. BOUGAINVILLE MINING (AMENDMENT) BILL 2019,
  2. BOUGAINVILLE ADVANCE HOLDINGS TRUST AUTHORIZATION BILL 2019, and
  3. BOUGAINVILLE ADVANCE HOLDINGS LIMITED AUTHORIZATION BILL 2019.

The Bills which were withdrawn by the sponsoring Ministers were again reintroduced on the floor of Parliament and are now in the hands of the responsible Committee to conduct public consultations, and report to the House.

The Committee adopts the following Terms of Reference governing its examination of the Bills. The Committee will:

Enquire into how the proposal was initiated by whom, within or outside of the Government et cetera;

  • Be mindful of and sensitive to the role that mining has played in the history of this country and what its role could be in the future for all people;
  • Examine the Bills and their drafting in detail;
  • Consult with responsible Ministers, Departments and officials and other key stakeholders;
  • Conduct consultation to gauge the widest range of Bougainvillean’s views on the proposed legislations;
  • Consider whether or not the Bills as drafted are consistent or not with existing objectives, principles, protections and duties in relevant legislation and instruments including (but not limited to) the Constitution of Bougainville and the Bougainville Mining Act 2015;
  • Propose any amendments to the Bills; and
  • Present a final report on its findings to the House in the next Parliament Session.

A Short Guide to writing a submission

While there is no set format for a submission to a select committee, you should aim to present your submission in a way that is ordered and easy to read.

Key Information

Head your submission with the name of the select committee to which it is addressed and the full title of the bill, inquiry, or matter under consideration.

Provide the following information in a covering letter or at the top of your submission: your name or the name of the organisation you are representing; an email address; a contact address; and a daytime telephone number.

If you wish to appear before the committee, include with your name your daytime telephone number and email address. If you wish others to appear in support, include their names and, if representing an organisation, designations. What are your organisation’s aims?

If you are writing for an organisation, give brief details of the organisation’s aims, membership, and structure. Make sure that you have the authority to represent the organisation and note your position within the organisation.

Who has been consulted? Note how much support you have and how widely you have consulted while writing the submission.

Content of the Submission

When writing a submission, you will usually be making comments in relation to a bill or inquiry. While there are differences in the way in which a submission is written for a bill or inquiry, there are five basic principles that apply to both.

Relevant Your submission must be relevant to the matter before the committee. A committee may decide not to receive a submission it considers not relevant.

Clear Arrange your sentences and paragraphs in a logical order. Present a clear and logically developed argument. A submission that jumps from one issue to another and back again or jumbles unrelated issues together may confuse members and reduce its impact.

Concise Be simple and direct. Do not write more than is necessary. An overly long submission may prove too long for members to consider fully. They want to know what you think and the evidence or arguments you have that support your view.

Accurate Be accurate and complete. Include all relevant information. It will only confuse the committee if, in your submission, you refer to evidence or information that is not included. Make sure your facts are correct. An error-ridden submission will greatly reduce its impact and credibility.

Conclusion Restate your recommendations in a conclusion at the end of the submission or an executive summary at the beginning. Consider listing your submission’s recommendations or summing up its main points.

Writing a submission on an Inquiry

Writing a submission for an inquiry is different from writing a submission on a bill. As there are no specific clauses to comment on, use the terms of reference of the inquiry as a guide to presenting your views. You may then like to list any specific recommendations that you wish the committee to consider. It is essential to have a copy of the inquiry’s terms of reference to assist in preparing your submission.

Writing a submission on a Bill

When writing a submission on a bill you should have a copy of that bill so you know what is being proposed. You will then be able to focus your submission on what the bill actually contains.

First, state your general position on the bill, whether you support or oppose the measure being proposed, and give your reasons.

Having stated your general position, make more detailed comments on the clauses that are of concern to you. If you feel that certain clauses need to be changed, say so, and give your reasons. You might also like to suggest new wording for the clauses that you feel ought to be changed. Using clauses as numbered in the bill is a good way to organise your submission.

This notice is authorised by the Committee Chair Hon. Rodney Osioco

Bougainville News ALERT : 39 recommendations for the leaders consideration at the Joint Supervisory Body, Arawa, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, June 28- 29 meeting

National Government and Bougainville Chief Secretaries, Isaac Lupari and Joseph Nobetau have agree on 39 recommendations to be put to the Prime Minister and President at the next Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meeting – confirmed for 28 – 29 June in Arawa.

The recommendations cover a wide range of issues under the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA) including referendum and post-referendum issues, fisheries, outstanding grants owed to Bougainville, weapons disposal and border control.

Chief Secretary to the National Government Isaac Lupari said the meeting of the Joint Technical Team in preparation for the JSB was highly productive, and illustrated the current spirit of partnership, cooperation and preparedness between the two governments.

“These 39 recommendations will support the upcoming JSB to be a more effective forum for progressing referendum preparations and resolution of issues between the two governments under the Bougainville Peace Agreement.”

“It is a time for action and we are working hard,” Mr Lupari said.

“The National Government is fully committed to implementing the Bougainville Referendum in accordance with the Peace Agreement – and this includes a commitment to implementing the referendum on Bougainville’s future political status.”

Bougainville Chief Secretary Joseph Nobetau said the two chief secretaries had undertaken multiple discussions since the last JSB to progress resolutions.

“There has been good work since the last JSB and I wish to acknowledge these fruitful discussions with the Chief Secretary that pave the way for preparing our leaders and supporting Bougainville implement all three pillars of the Peace Agreement,” Mr Nobetau said.

“Bougainvilleans are keen to see leadership resolve issues such as operationalizing the Bougainville Referendum Commission, the referendum question to be put to people and what will happen after the referendum.

“We hope that our recommendations will see resolution or progress on all these issues,” Mr Nobetau said.

“We must continue to work together to support the establishment of a fully operational Bougainville Referendum Commission, one that can conduct an independent, credible and successful referendum.”

Included in the 39 recommendations for the leaders consideration at the Joint Supervisory Body, Arawa, Autonomous Region of Bougainville, meeting are:

• Formally endorse Mr Bertie Ahern, international peace-builder and former President of Ireland, as Chair of the Bougainville Referendum Commission (BRC) and invite him to attend the meeting of the JSB in Arawa from 28 to 29 June 2018.
• That ABG Members of the BRC, Mr Patrick Nisira and Ms Ruby Mirinka be noted and the National Government Members of the BRC be finalised before the meeting of the JSB.
• Establishment of funding of K20 million be transferred to a formally endorsed BRC trust account.
• The full Commission meet no later than 14 days after the JSB
• Officials meet to review legal arrangements related to the Organic Law and the need for possible amendments, including constitutional regulations and associated legal matters to give effect to the operational conduct of the referendum.
• Leaders formally consider questions to be put at the referendum, including the use of symbols and direct BRC to test the questions and ballot paper to ensure it is understood by the people
• Develop agreed process for post-referendum transition
• the two Chief Secretaries meet to examine means through which disbursement of outstanding K437 million can be made
• That the ABG will prepare an expenditure plan for the K135 million to be financed by the National Government in 2018.
• Endorse arrangement for the Second Autonomy review, which is expected to be finalised by the end of October 2018.
• Endorsement of the progress of the Four Phase Weapons Disposal Plan and funding support of K12 million over three years be affirmed, with a commitment that K7million in funds be provided in the 2018 financial year.

Ambassador Isaac Lupari, CBE
Chief Secretary Government of Papua New Guinea

Joseph Nobetau, Chief Secretary
Autonomous Bougainville Government

Bougainville Mining News : Have plans to restart the giant Bougainville mine stalled ?

SYDNEY, October 6 (Reuters) – Plans to reopen one of the world’s biggest copper mines, shut by a civil war on the Pacific Island of Bougainville in 1989, have run into trouble.

The quarter of a million people of Bougainville are tentatively scheduled to vote on independence from Papua New Guinea in June 2019, and revenue from the reopening of the Panguna mine is essential for the otherwise impoverished island to have any chance of flourishing if it becomes the world’s newest nation.

But there is now a struggle over who will run the mine between Bougainville Copper Ltd – the previous operator now backed by the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the Papua New Guinea government – and a consortium of Australian investors supported by the head of the landowners who own the mineral rights.

The dispute is opening old wounds – and is almost certainly going to delay any reopening. That could help to drive copper prices higher as many forecasters expect that demand for the base metal will exceed supply in the next few years.

The battle lines have been hardening on several fronts, Reuters has learned.

Papua New Guinea has told airlines that Sydney businessman Ian de Renzie Duncan, who set up the consortium, is banned from entering the country until 2024, according to a Papua New Guinea government document reviewed by Reuters.

The request for the ban was made by the Bougainville government, three sources with knowledge of the document said.

The consortium has also acknowledged for the first time that it is paying some landowners a monthly stipend and has pulled in some big backers that have not previously been disclosed.

They include Richard Hains, part of a billionaire Australian race-horse owning family which runs hedge fund Portland House Group.

In a sign of how ugly the row is getting on the ground, local opponents of BCL becoming the operator – and some who are opposed to the mine reopening altogether – blocked Bougainville government officials from entering Panguna in June.

They had hoped to get key landowners to sign a memorandum of agreement that would have endorsed BCL as preferred developer, according to a copy of the document reviewed by Reuters. The proposed agreement also stipulated the mine would be re-opened by June 2019, ahead of BCL’s own timeframe of 2025-26.

The Papua New Guinea government didn’t respond to requests for comment for this story.

Bougainville’s main political leaders say getting the mine reopened is critical. “If the independence of the people is to be sustained then we need Panguna to run,” Bougainville Vice President and Mining Minister Raymond Masono told Reuters in a phone interview.

He said he believes BCL has first right of refusal to operate the mine under laws passed three years ago, and only if BCL declined to take up that right should an open tender take place.

 For a graphic on Panguna mine on Bougainville island, click tmsnrt.rs/2yYCkTt

DEEP RESENTMENT

The abandoned copper and gold mine contains one of the world’s largest copper deposits. During its 17-year life until the closure in 1989, Panguna was credited for generating almost one-half of Papua New Guinea’s gross domestic product.

The civil war was largely about how the profits from the mine should be shared, and about the environmental damage it had caused.

There was deep resentment among the indigenous Bougainville people about the amount of the wealth that was going to Papua New Guinea and to the mine’s then operator, Conzinc Riotinto of Australia Ltd, a forerunner of Rio Tinto.

The mine was forced to shut after a campaign of sabotage by the rebel Bougainville Revolutionary Army.

The conflict between Bougainville’s rebel guerrilla army and Papua New Guinea forces left as many as 20,000 dead over the following decade, making it the biggest in the region known as Oceania since the Second World War.

A supplied image shows locals taking shelter from rain under a local administrative building at the former Bougainville Copper Limited’s (BCL) Panguna mining operation located on the Pacific Ocean island of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea, March 29, 2017. Picture taken March 29, 2017. BCL/Handout via REUTERS

Rio Tinto divested its stake in BCL in 2016, and the listed company is now just over one-third owned by the Bougainville government and one-third owned by Papua New Guinea.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O‘Neill said last year his government would gift the shares received from Rio, or 17.4 percent, to the people of Bougainville, although that is yet to take place.

“NEVER AGAIN”

The challenge from the Australian consortium that now includes listed gold and copper explorer RTG Mining was made public in June. Duncan and his fellow investors have joined forces with a group of Panguna landowners, the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowner Association (SMLOLA) led by Philip Miriori.

Miriori was in the Bougainville Revolutionary Army as the private secretary to the late Francis Ona, the former BCL mine surveyor who became leader of the resistance.

Ona had declared that BCL should “never again” be allowed to run the mine and Miriori, Ona’s brother-in-law, still supports that stance.

“They have caused a lot of damage, they don’t have the money and they are not telling the truth and so I wouldn’t accept them,” Miriori said in a telephone interview from the Bougainville town of Arawa.

 

PAYOUTS TO LANDOWNERS

Duncan, a former barrister with a background in mining law, heads an entity called Central Exploration that has a half share of the consortium.

Duncan’s consortium has been paying money, described as a stipend, to some of the landowners, but denies this amounts to bribery.

“We are really talking about people receiving a couple of thousand kina ($608) a month,” said Duncan, who added that the money helps the landowners to travel and find accommodation in towns where Panguna negotiations take place. “It’s not bribery, it’s business,” he said.

BCL claims to have the support of eight other landowner groups in Bougainville with an interest in the project. They have land rights covering access roads and the port site, among other areas, though crucially not the mine site itself.

FINANCING DOUBTS

The uncertainty is going to make it difficult for either group to raise the capital that will be needed to get the mine restarted.

In 2012, BCL estimated the cost of re-opening at $5 billion. With few of its own assets, the company would need to secure the mining rights before tapping capital markets.

The Australian consortium may be in a stronger position, according to Hains, who is a 15 percent owner of RTG. He said the consortium has strong access to the North American capital markets and could re-develop Panguna in a “highly timely fashion”.

As it stands, BCL has no mine without the support of the owners of the minerals, and Duncan’s group has no project without road and port rights as well as government support.

Anthony Regan, a constitutional lawyer at the Australian National University and an adviser to the Bougainville government, said the immediate outlook for the mine is bleak. “The need of Bougainville to have a significant source of revenue if it’s to be really autonomous or independent has become hopelessly enmeshed with the future of Panguna.”

Reporting by Jonathan Barrett in SYDNEY; Editing by Martin Howell

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#Bougainville Communications and Media report : We need to improve awareness activities on the peace agreement and upcoming referendum.


Government research conducted across Bougainville has laid the foundation for more targeted public awareness.

The Autonomous Bougainville Government has released a report on people’s access to media and communication channels to better target awareness activities on the peace agreement and upcoming referendum.

The report is based on a survey of over 1,000 people across Bougainville. It found that the varying, but generally low access to government information required new approaches with greater attention to presentation of information.

The report recommended tapping into new channels people are using such as mobile phone and video, but a general need to focus on the content of information with clear, simple and consistently repeated messages, designed with the target audience in mind – whether they be youth, women or people of different levels of literacy.

The survey was an initiative of the Bureau of Media and Communications and was
conducted by the Centre for Social and Creative Media , University of Goroka.

Chief Secretary Joseph Nobetau thanked Bougainvilleans for their participation in the survey and assured them that the government was listening to their voice.

“This survey has gone down to the grassroots level to find out why awareness of the BPA and government remains low”, Nobetau said.

“It has found the penetration of traditional media: radio, newspapers and television, and newer internet channels is very low, especially outside Buka and Arawa. This creates a major challenge for a government to communicate with its people.”

The research showed there was still confusion about key aspects of the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

People said they wanted the government to come down to their level, invest in radio, but also suggested new ideas, like using mobile phone for information dissemination.

Mr Nobetau said while the survey showed there is a lot of work to do to prepare people for the referendum, it also gave many good ideas about how to do things better.

“The lack of a good understanding of the Peace Agreement is evidence that we cannot rely on using the same old awareness approaches of the past. We must look at presenting information more clearly, more consistently, more often, and use a variety of different ways to get a two-way flow of information happening. This will create greater impact and greater understanding.”

The head of the Bureau of Media and Communications Adriana Schmidt, said they were already responding to the findings.

“We are currently working with the Department of Peace Agreement Implementation to prepare multi-media information kits for our Members of Parliament, producing video and investigating mobile-phone based awareness,” Ms Schmidt said.

“With this report, the government has listened to the views of people and we are now better placed to plan and implement improved awareness.”

The Chief Secretary called upon all government agencies and communication partners to use the report to improve engagement with community.

“The task ahead is to better target our awareness campaigns and we will continue to survey and measure our activities in this regard.”

The Bougainville Audience Study asked people about their access to radio, mobile phone, TV, newspaper and the internet, their most trusted sources of information, and preferred ways of receiving government news. The research also asked people about their level of understanding of the three pillars of the Bougainville Peace Agreement: weapons disposal, autonomy and referendum, and other issues.

The survey was an initiative of the Bureau of Media and Communications,
conducted by Centre for Social and Creative Media , University of Goroka, with funding support from the governments of Papua New Guinea, Bougainville, Australia and New Zealand. Over 1,114 people were surveyed, and 200 in-depth interviews conducted.

Bougainville News Feature 2 of 2 : After 27 years , #Panguna landowners compensated by #BCL

” HAVING lost much of their precious land and rivers, landowners in and around Panguna do have grievances. But welcoming the culprit back into their midst to remedy some conflicts is a goal they see as paramount to the progress of Bougainville as a whole.

Thus the communities of the Upper Tailings prepared for almost a month for the day when the mining company, Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), would pay them compensation outstanding since 1990 – 27 years before.”

Reprinted with the kind permission of LEONARD FONG ROKA

BCL had a cordial welcome from the people of my home Enamira Village in the heart of the Upper Tailings area of the Panguna District.

A short traditional ceremony to mend broken ties and restore relations with the community of the Tumpusiong Valley, as it is known widely today, began the day. This was followed by speeches that emphasised concord, collaboration and remediation of all the issues attached to the Panguna mine.

It was a go-forward for Bougainville because BCL was giving the mine-affected people a sign that the physical destruction of their land and life by mining no longer meant they had been deserted by the company responsible for their destitution.

BCL, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and other stakeholders were led by BCL manager Justin (Ted) Rogers.

Their mission was to verify and help locals finalise legal documents and bank accounts for title holders of land areas leased by BCL all those years ago.

The money ought to have been paid in 1990 but the Bougainville conflict of 1988-97 got in the way. Thus only now the people of the Panguna District queued to get what was owed to them by BCL.

This prevented possible eruption of conflict and maintained harmony within the Upper Tailings lease and its community members.

The tailings of the Panguna mine is in three sectors: the Lower Tailings (South Bougainville’s Bana District), the Mid-Tailings (Jaba to Konnuku Village) and the Upper Tailings (Tonanau Village to Dingumori).

In money terms there was a great variation in compensation depending on the size of the land blocks subject to royalties. The Lower Tailings, geographically a vast plain stretching from the Mid-Tailings to the coast, received a massive amount of K1 million-plus. The Mid-Tailings took about half-a-million while we in the Upper Tailings get something less than K50,000.

According to sources, the Special Mining Lease land title holders from areas directly around the mine will get close to a million kina.

BCL spent four days in the Upper Tailings with the people. Where disputes arose amongst people over land titles, BCL directed them to share the benefits. Thus peace prevailed.

Happy faces came out of the buildings where people were interacting with BCL and ABG officials. Above all, BCL manager Rogers was everywhere chatting and smiling with the people.

As BCL and its entourage left, the people stood by feeling relieved. What some of their elders had long waited for had materialised.

Many in the Upper Tailings are now telling themselves to make good use of the BCL money so it will have some lasting positive impact on their lives and the community as a whole.

They are telling themselves not to be like the Arawa Villagers who received K3 million from the national government for the lease of the land in the Arawa township but hardly have seen any tangible development.

They say the whole of Bougainville is watching us – and peace is intact as my people flock into Arawa, where the bank is, to get and use that BCL money

Bougainville News : Consultancy: Communications Strategy – Bougainville Referendum Project

The PNG National Research Institute as part of its work in researching and analysing strategic issues for national development, consider the Referendum and Bougainville to be of a significant national event that will impact the well-being of the people of Bougainville and the people of PNG.

Download the Terms of reference :

Bougainville-Referendum-Communications-Strategy

Or NRI Website

The PNG NRI therefore independently plans to undertake a set of research projects that will generate information to inform discussions in preparation for the referendum so that the outcome is credible and respected by all parties and ensuring a peaceful outcome for the people of Bougainville.

The PNG NRI research project proposes to inquire and inform stakeholders on three key central questions:

  • What is a Referendum and why is it being held?
  • How can the Referendum be effectively administered?
  • What are possible outcomes and how can the outcome of the Referendum be effectively managed and implemented?

The Institute seeks applications from qualified candidates to develop the Communications Strategy for the project.  This is a critical piece of work that will provide a foundation for dissemination of the research generated by the Project.

The strategy will be developed on a consultancy basis.  Applications are due by Friday 26 May 2017.

The Bougainville Referendum Research – Communication Strategy

Background Information

1.1. The Bougainville Referendum

The people of Bougainville will vote in a Referendum before June 15 2020 to determine their political future; – a choice between whether Bougainville remains a part of Papua New Guinea under an Autonomous Governance Arrangement, or to become a fully Independent State, an option to be included in the Referendum.

This is an important milestone as part of a Peace Agreement reached in 2001 following a brutal Civil War between 1989 and 1999.

The conflict was initially triggered by issues over redistribution over landowner benefits from the Bougainville Copper mine, then fuelled by long held secessionist sentiments mobilised into a civil war against PNG Government forces, that later flared into localised conflicts between different factions after the government forces withdrew and maintained a blockade around the islands of Bougainville.

The war resulted in more than ten thousand persons estimated to have been killed and destruction of major infrastructure as well as social disruptions leaving half the population of Bougainville displaced.

Cessation of fighting in 1998 led to negotiations for a Peace Agreement.

One of the key stickypoints in the negotiations was a call by factions of the Bougainville delegation on a Referendum for Independence. This was finally agreed to, but deferred to a period after fifteen years following the establishment of an autonomous Bougainville Government but before the end of twenty years.

Reports and findings from recent studies done on Bougainville indicate a lack of general information about what is a Referendum and its purpose.

It is important that the people of Bougainville are clear about the purpose of the referendum, the choices available and the implications of their choice of a political future when they cast their vote.

The Referendum outcome also has implications for the wider PNG as it challenges the essence of the PNG Nation State for maintaining a unified country of a diversified people, yet ensuring that a peaceful outcome is achieved for Bougainville.

It is therefore also critical for robust informed discussions that would lead to informed decisions and outcomes over Bougainville’s future as well about autonomous governance arrangements in PNG.