Bougainville News : BRA, MGU, Twin Kingdom and MDF sign understanding to work together toward Bougainville’s referendum in 2019

 

On Friday, the former Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA), Me’ekamui Government of Unity (MGU), Twin Kingdom Factions and the Me’ekamui Defence Force (MDF) signed an understanding to work together to pursue peace leading to the Bougainville referendum in 2019.

Picture above : Former BRA factions members (ex-combatants), womens reps and ABG representatives standing together to show their unification in working towards a peaceful process to referendum.

The meeting was conducted under the theme: ‘Re-Unifying Bougainville for a free and fair referendum.’

The factions met for four (4) days at the Goro Homes Village Resort in Arawa to recall the events that took place in Roreinang from the 25th – 27th of September 1997, which triggered the split in the BRA to different factions.

Those present at the meeting recalled the events of the ‘Roreinang Coup,’ especially;

  • Gun fired in front of Francis Ona, Joseph Kabui, Sam Kauona, David Sisito, Jonathan Ngati, Andrew Miriki, Jacob Aroku, Bernard Tunim and David Onavui,
  • Letter to Francis Ona from the BRA Commanders demanding him not to engage in activities that could jeopardise the ongoing Burnham Peace Talks,
  • Letter from Francis Ona terminating BRA Commanders and Bougainville Interim Government (BIG) Members
  • Split between Francis Ona and Joseph Kabui
  • Split between BRA Company Commanders and ‘A’ Company.

The ex-combatants present at the meeting acknowledged their split and recognised the limited time they had available leading towards the appointed date of Bougainville’s referendum on June 15th 2019, thus making it their top priority to work together.

Picture above : Former BRA General, Sam Kauona (L) and former BRA ‘A’ Company Commander MDF General, Moses Pipiro shaking hands after signing the understanding to work together towards referendum.

The signed understanding was to reaffirm their commitment to pursue peace by all means and make aware the importance of the unification process.

It was also a commitment to continue to the best of their ability to resolve the issues that arose from the ‘Roreinang Coup’ and further commit themselves to work in partnership with the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the Bougainville Peace Building Program (BPBP) in moving the process leading to the Referendum and beyond.

The parties agreed that between May 15th – 17th, 2017, they will reconcile their differences through major reconciliation ceremonies to be held at Roreinang, Panguna and Arawa. The understanding was signed by Philip Miriori – Former Secretary, Supreme National Council (SNC), Ishmael Toroama – Former BRA Chief of Defence, Gunther Using – Twin Kingdom, Sam Kauona – Former General, BRA, Moses Pipiro – Former BRA ‘A’ Company Commander, MDF General, Co-Chairman, Roreinang Coup Committee, and David Sisito – Former BIG Defence Minister and was witnessed by Honourable Thomas Tari – Member House of Representatives (MHR), Veterans Member for South Bougainville, Honourable Noah Doko – MHR, Veterans Member for Central Bougainville, Honourable Ben Malatan – MHR, Veterans Member for North Bougainville, Honourable Albert Punghau, MHR, Minister for Bougainville Peace Agreement Implementation and James Tanis – Secretary Department of Bougainville Peace Agreement implementation.

Bougainville #Mining News #PNG : ABG lifts Mining and Exploration Moratorium on #Bougainville.

The Autonomous Bougainville Government has made an historic announcement in the lifting of the Mining and Exploration Moratorium on Bougainville.

ABG President Chief Dr John Momis made the announcement on Friday April, 28 2017 after the Bougainville Executive Council carefully considered the implications of developing the capacity of the government to manage exploration applications and the needs of the people of Bougainville.

This allows for applications for the areas of Tore, Isina and Jaba only and does not include Panguna, places which have large ore deposits.

Since the development of the Panguna Mine more than 40 years ago the rest of Bougainville has been covered by the moratorium until the announcement was made.

In 2006 the ABG requested the National Government for the Mining, Oil and Gas powers and functions to be drawn down as the priority powers in its notice to the national government.

In 2008 both the ABG and the National Government signed the Alotau MOU that established the road map for the transfer of the Mining, Oil and Gas powers and functions from the National Government to the ABG.

Although the process was slow the ABG enacted its own Mining Act in 2015 and this paved the way for the ABG to regulate its own mining sector.

“The Bougainville Constitution and the Bougainville Mining Act 2015 clearly define the people as the owner of all the mineral found on all the land in Bougainville,” President Momis said.

“It is significantly important that the people’s consent must be given before any mine is developed and the Mining Act,” Momis said.

Momis also added that the Bougainville Mining Act gives the ABG the opportunity to preserve and reserve certain areas in Bougainville from mineral exploration and mining to strategically harvest mineral resources for the current and future generations.

The Bougainville Executive Council has the final authority to grant mining licenses in Bougainville and in this way it will scrutinise every would be investor well to ensure only genuine investors invest in Bougainville before a license is granted.

“We have learnt our lessons from the Panguna experience and now we have the opportunity to do a better job this time,” President Momis said.

“On behalf of the people of Bougainville I invite and welcome applications from prospective applicants to invest in our mining sector; Bougainville is open for business and I look forward to the development of long term economic partnerships to allow Bougainville to fulfil the economic potential she rightly deserves,” he added.

The Bougainville Mining Registrar will start accepting applications from 10am Bougainville Standard Time, Tuesday 9 May 2017.

 

 

 

Bougainville News : #PNG Political pioneers come along once in a lifetime but thier legacy lasts forever

 

 L-R: Julius Chan, John Poe, Iambakey Okuk, Maori Kiki, Ebia Olewale, Gavera Rea, Kaibelt Diria, Michael Somare, Dr Ruben Taureka, John Guise, Paul Lapun, Boyamo Sali, Thomas Kavali. 

” This is a short tribute, appreciation and acknowledgment of the early political leaders I met and around whom my career serving elected leaders grew.

I am privileged to have served, and served with, these pioneering pre- and post-Independence leaders. It is an honour I shall always treasure.

In this photograph, the pose and demeanour of these Ministers – the Cabinet – accurately shows them thinking seriously, thoughtfully, in some cases may be even curiously, about the looming question of independence.

I remember much about these pioneer political leaders largely because the career I chose as a teenager just out of high school grew and evolved around serving political leaders. Looking back it was a time and youth well spent with a rewarding graduation from the university of life whose only curricula was duty of service

Those years were a fulfilling and rewarding part of history to which I will always look back. The time and rubbing shoulders with these pioneers guided my later choices as I have considered how I might be able to still contribute as time goes on “

Statement by the Speaker of the Bougainville House of Representatives Simon Pentanu

It is election season. It is a very short, abrupt season which comes only once every five years. We are in the thick of it now. All over the country people are struck by election fever. Excitement and malaise are everywhere. 

Despite shortcomings and inequities that come with all election, the value and benefit of elections are obvious. They are a tried, tested and proven method for selecting political representatives – rooted in ancient Greek system and derived from the word demos for people, thus, democracy. The rulers are elected by the ruled – government by the people, for the people, of the people – and accountable to the people through regular elections.

Alternatives to democracy autocracy, theocracy, demagoguery, plutocracy, dictatorship and military junta, anarchy and the brand of latter day religious fanaticism that is wreaking violence and in certain parts of the world.

PNG has, since its early polls, delivered democratic elections for which we can all hold our heads high.

The earliest election I can  remember was the House of Assembly election in 1964. I was doing my last year in primary school in Kangu, south Bougainville. The next election was the House of Assembly election in 1968. I was doing my last year in high school in Malabunga, ENBP. 

The following year I applied, was successful and commenced a job in the pre-independence House of Assembly as a simultaneous trainee interpreter/translator.  

I remember much about these pioneer political leaders largely because the career I chose as a teenager just out of high school grew and evolved around serving political leaders. Looking back it was a time and youth well spent with a rewarding graduation from the university of life whose only curricula was duty of service.

The Chief, the one that was always quick to grab the baton and run from the front, was Michael Thomas Somare. Of this group he was one of the first into the House and the last to bow out of Parliament – retiring recently on the eve of 2017 Parliament elections. Sir Michael has had the longest un-dismissed innings at the crease and the most party political victories at the polls.

The tribute paid to Sir Michael and Chief and Father of the nation by Members on the day of the final meeting of the Tenth Parliament was well deserved and most fitting.

After this year’s election Sir Julius might be the only one of this group in Parliament if he is returned for the Tenth Parliament.

I was delighted to meet Dr Reuben Taureka again after more than 45 years at a private traditional closure reception to end the mourning period of one of his son-in-laws whom I knew and worked with at the Ombudsman Commission. Reuben was still in good shape and form. It was a brief and happy occasion for us to reminisce about those early pioneering years.

Those years were a fulfilling and rewarding part of history to which I will always look back. The time and rubbing shoulders with these pioneers guided my later choices as I have considered how I might be able to still contribute as time goes on.

It is no fluke, accident or coincidence I am serving as Speaker of the Bougainville House of Representatives today. I thank God, He has been kind and caring. I also thank these political pioneers whom I’m blessed to have served and observed as they gave their all, selflessly and unpretentiously to this country. 

The country has been kind, the opportunities and choices have been plentiful, the opportunities and decision moments lived and exercised, have been truly remarkable.

No matter how close, how far and in what direction I look, this country cannot avoid or miss the souls and spirits of these men. 

The sum total of their collective political efforts, their contribution and dedicated service to this country is beyond measure. 

And yet it is also their individual efforts, that often come to the fore. 

How could so many genuine leaders have emerged in the same era? I can only explain it thus: that PNG came of age because the excitement, the challenges and doubts about self determination prompted and nudged these men to mature beyond their age to face up to the uncharted waters and unknown future to nationhood. 

I will always remember them well. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bougainville News : Speaker envisages a modern, well-functioning Bougainville House of Representatives

 ” When I was appointed Speaker by the House in June 2015 I said my first priority would be to provide our Members with the necessary assistance, proper services and facilities to enable them to perform their duties and responsibilities to serve their constituencies better. 

We are on track to meet this undertaking. I’m extremely pleased with the progress we have made in the last 19 months. While funding is limited, there is no limit to the ideas and ways and means we can pursue improvements for our elected representatives.

I envisage a modern, well-functioning Bougainville House of Representatives comparable to any in our Pacific Region in the foreseeable years ahead. Our primary responsibility is to the people through their elected Members in the House. “

 Statement by the Speaker of the Bougainville House of Representatives  Simon Pentanu

Pictured above with the Clerk of the House inspecting Members’ new computer room and work station.

The Bougainville House of Representatives will commission a new Members’ Resources Centre adjacent to the Parliament House at Kubu. 

The Centre will have ten work stations with desktops and Internet access for to Members to use. For some Members the facility will further their skills in computer use, access information, respond to queries and for research. 

The Centre will also have a Conference room, providing additional space for parliamentary committees.

Meanwhile, four haus wins that were built in 2015 have now also been fitted with lights and Internet access for members to use.

These addition of the haus wins in 2015 and now the Research Centre in Parliament precinct are welcome but they are temporary reprieves for our parliamentarians who have been left to fend for themselves without even basic office accommodation since the inauguration of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville House of Representatives in June 2015. 

As former Chief Ombudsman it gives me particular pleasure to witness the Ombudsman Commission having now established an office in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. I urge the Commission to exercise its jurisdiction with responsibilityb to promote good governance in the Region.

As Speaker I have been very keen to establish close contacts, consultations and meaningful partnership with the  National Parliament. We will continue to vigorously pursue this following the elections and into the future. 

The fruitful contact has included discussions at the level of Speakers and Clerks and some exchange visits between our parliamentary committees.

The UNDP Peace Building Fund has been a welcome facility in our legislative institutional strengthening efforts at Parliament House during the last 15 months.

It is important that we promote the role of Parliament and give representative democracy a practical meaning for everyone.  

To this end I am keen to see a better coordinated approach for better outcomes to strengthen the role of the Parliament with our traditional aid donors and  partners in this part of the world. 

 

End ….

 

 

Bougainville News : President Momis pays tribute to Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare : an icon in the rich history of Papua New Guinea

 ” Instead of shrinking from the challenges of his time like the fear of independence and the injustices of colonialism he literally gave himself to pursue his vision of an inspiring future for Papua New Guinea.

It was a mark of a true leader when he took the bold step of making things happen and taking ownership of major decisions unpopular as they might have been.”

JOHN L. MOMIS : President Autonomous Region of Bougainville

Today we pay tribute to a great leader, an icon in the rich history of Papua New Guinea – Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare. Occasions like this are reserved only for people who have done so much outside of themselves. It is a time to recognize the messenger and the message he will leave behind for us and the next generation to keep and cherish.

My personal encounter with Sir Michael Somare dates way back to our younger days. Fate must have brought us together over barbecue and beer in Wewak. Little did we know that soon we would be working together and forge a path for this nation.

I was then full of idealism and he was brimming with pragmatism. The combination of two different yet attuned minds resulted in greater efforts to trail blaze a path not many at that time dared to tread.

Our minds were somehow shaped by the events of the tumultuous 60’s when young men in America were sent to wage war in Vietnam, where personalities like Martin Luther King and the Kennedys were taking the world in storm with their ideals and advocacies, the impending domination of communism, the construction of Berlin Wall, Cuban Missile crisis, Civil Rights protests among others.

Shouts of freedom from colonialism, racism, inequality, communism and capitalism reverberated in all corners of the world. I must say the stage was set, the curtain rises.

If there is anyone who would have known him up close as a person, I consider myself honoured and privileged. He is not perfect like all of us.

There will always be critics and dissenters from his style of leadership but this I have to say, for over 49 years in public service that I have known him he gave his whole life to the people of Papua New Guinea.

He was true to his commitment to the people. He pursued relentlessly the right to be free and pushed to unify a diverse country like Papua New Guinea.

He did much and he did them faithfully. This I would say is loyal service at its best yet to be matched by and emulated by our current breed of politicians. He exercised his role as a true politician – guided by his faith and embracing his role as a vocation, he ventured into the unknown responding to a call without fear.

He was there always ready to listen and to implement results of choices and judgements. Unknown to him perhaps, his biggest contribution was in politics in the tradition the philosopher Aristotle and theologian St. Thomas Aquinas who believe that politics is the noblest of sciences because it is through politics that one can do the most good by passing good laws and politics in the natural order.

He exercised and maximized his political strength systematically by not taking the shorter route of traditional politics where the needs of a select few typical of a Melanesian mind takes precedence over the common good.

Instead of shrinking from the challenges of his time like the fear of independence and the injustices of colonialism he literally gave himself to pursue his vision of an inspiring future for Papua New Guinea. It was a mark of a true leader when he took the bold step of making things happen and taking ownership of major decisions unpopular as they might have been.

I owe him much. For a pragmatist to put his full trust and confidence in an ideologue like me is a rarity. Here is a man whose vision is achieved because he trusted everyone, he encouraged camaraderie and he collaborated without any reservation if only to achieve results.

Upon my election in 1972, he made me Deputy and working Chairman of the Constitutional Planning Committee paving the way for everything that we citizens are enjoying now.

Later he made me the Minister for Decentralization that again opened more doors of opportunities for governance and development in every province in Papua New Guinea. Our professional relationship was never near perfect.

We had clashes and disagreements in many instances. There came even a point where I challenged and stood up against him. This, however, did not deter us from reconciling and collaborating to secure the best collective interests of Papua New Guinea. How can you turn against a man who all the way was a sincere and charismatic politician?

His reputation to calm things down where there were incongruities and eventually convince everyone to move forward is an endearing trait that makes him a cut above the rest.

Si Michael Somare, the man of the people clearly understood that Parliament is the best venue where one can do the most good for the whole country; where his commitment to serve the people is unparalleled; where collegiality or first among equals (primus inter pares) took precedence in his leadership style.

All these things clearly indicated the quality of a true leader who never assumed that he was better than everybody else.

At this juncture, may I on behalf of the people of Bougainville express our heartfelt gratitude to this man who together with Sir Paul Lapun stood up for the just right of the landowners against CRA and the Colonial Government when many leaders opted to look the other way and keep quiet. Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare understood and supported the peoples; aspirations and grievance and rights not to mention that we were the first provincial government to be recognized under his vision of decentralization.

As the curtain falls, we give our applause and standing ovation. Thank you! May history be fair to you, acknowledge your contribution to this nation and the Pacific Region and put you in its annals which you rightfully deserve.

So long my dear friend! We who share your dream stand ready to forge a new human solidarity necessary for the transformation of our society so that your legacy of always imagining inspiring future will be realized.

God bless Papua New Guinea!

God bless you Sir Michael Somare!

JOHN L. MOMIS

President

Autonomous Region of Bougainville

 

Bougainville Tourism News : You can now fly Buka to Arawa/Aropa “World Class ” @PNGAir

  ” Chris Dwyer of CNN recently named 12 airlines as having the best aircraft liveries in the world. Among those that were listed, PNG Air has made the cut.

Congratulations to PNG Air.  This is a brief spontaneous account of one Bougainvillean passenger on PNG Air service when the Airline commenced its service to Bougainville. The passenger was on the short flight from Buka to Kieta. ”

For further information about PNG Air and PokPok Island / Urana Bay Retreat Tours Accommodation contact Zhon at Bougainville Experience Tours

BUKA- KIETA PNGAir Flt.

We lifted off Buka airport at 7:38 am BST. The dew on the grass had hardly dried when we lifted off. Who cares, today I’m traveling by air not on land.

Once airborne the most conspicuous  eye-catcher looking left out to sea and the horizon beyond is the dim glare of the sun. The sun itself rose before our flight took off. The sun’s glares were broken up by low hanging clouds far far out at sea. Looks like this is going to be another sunny day.

The empty seascape suddenly changes as the aircraft veered slightly right on a course headed straight to Kieta. I can see looking down that the bays, cays and the quays along the east coast are well defined. 

It is easy to see this is a vastly green Island  with peninsulas snorting out to sea as the flight progresses along the east coast.

Teop Island comes into view. It looks like someone had thought it was best to anchor this Island here to add to the coastal symmetry that lacked a collection of other islands adjacent or nearby as they are further along the coast into Kieta.

The Captain has just come on the PA apologizing for the late departure from Buka. It doesn’t bother me as the flight time is mere 25 minutes compared to the bumpy and often grueling travel by road of some 3 hours or so.

Wow, down there the breaking waves against the reefs along the seashore are like white contours on a map. Out on some reefs I can see kakunibarras (lagoons) and troughs looking like bomb craters.

Before I knew the Captain announces: “cabin crew prepare for landing”. Thank you captain. I’m almost home and hose. Staring out on left below I just caught a quick glimpse of Takanupe Island with a marvelous blue lagoon. Takanupe’s lagoon is bigger than the size of the island itself.

Then Arovo and Tautsina Islands are here and we quickly pass over them. We pass over Pokpok, I quickly see the village down there. We pass over swiftly and quickly.

The aircraft nose veers downwards as the plane makes the landing approach from Koromira and the old Aropa plantation end.

“Thanking you for flying with us today, thank you and good morning” the steward announces to us in a deliberate voice repeating what they say at every landing in all ports.

As we make our approach to land at Aropa airport I’m thinking how it’d be nice to do up the Buin airstrip near Turiboiuru. It could probably take this aircraft ATR72 600 and thus extend the service to the southern region of the Island.

In a few seconds it will be touch down. The plane’s shadow has suddenly caught up with us and now rushing alongside us. The shadow will  meet the aircraft as the aircraft wheel touches down on the tarmac.

We are safely down after another short, scenic and enjoyable flight. Passing the old Toborai Plantation I can see my island home

I’ll ride into Kieta and be home in a boat in 45 minutes.

Thank you PNG Air. 

Bougainville Experience Tours Website

Bougainville Mining News : Rio Tinto walks away from environmental responsibility

When BCL had to leave the site in 1989, we believe BCL operated Panguna in compliance with applicable laws and standards until 1989 when it was required to leave the country…..Given the lack of access since then, it has not been possible for Rio Tinto or BCL to confirm the nature, extent or cause of any alleged damage or pollution,”

 A spokesperson for Rio Tinto at their London headquarters told Mongabay

“In terms of the environmental damage and social disruption, it is a moral negligence on the part of Rio Tinto to have caused so much damage to the environment and to people’s lives, and to now walk away,”

Chief Dr. John Momis, president of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Wherever possible we prevent – or otherwise minimize, mitigate and remediate – harmful effects that our operations may have.”

Rio Tinto claims on its website that “respect for the environment is central to our approach

British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto was for 45 years the majority-owner of the Panguna copper mine in Bougainville, an autonomous region in Papua New Guinea (PNG). But now it has given up its 53.8 percent stake in the mine’s operating company, Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL), and announced it rejects any corporate responsibility for environmental damage wrought during operations from 1972 to 1989.

Originally Published HERE

The company believes it no longer has any obligation to address the mine’s environmental legacy because it adhered to PNG’s laws of the day and was forced to abandon the extraction venture due to armed conflict.

“When BCL had to leave the site in 1989, we believe BCL operated Panguna in compliance with applicable laws and standards until 1989 when it was required to leave the country…..Given the lack of access since then, it has not been possible for Rio Tinto or BCL to confirm the nature, extent or cause of any alleged damage or pollution,” a spokesperson for Rio Tinto at their London headquarters told Mongabay.

The controversial open-pit mine, once one of the world’s largest, hit world news headlines almost three decades ago when indigenous landowners forced it to shut down. Angered about tailings and mine-waste contamination of agricultural land and nearby waterways, as well as inequity in revenue and benefit-sharing, landowners used a campaign of sabotage to halt operations in 1989, subsequently precipitating a decade-long civil war.

Silent rusting mine machinery litters the Panguna mine site, abandoned 28 years ago. Photo by Catherine Wilson.

The mine’s social and environmental legacy

Now, rusting mine trucks and machinery litter the long-abandoned mine site in one of Bougainville Island’s remote mountain valleys, while gutted mine buildings have been resourcefully adapted and reoccupied by local villagers as dwellings.  But rivers and streams in the vicinity remain contaminated, tailings dumps have become unstable and chemical storage areas are deteriorating.

“In terms of the environmental damage and social disruption, it is a moral negligence on the part of Rio Tinto to have caused so much damage to the environment and to people’s lives, and to now walk away,” said Chief Dr. John Momis, president of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.

Rio Tinto claims on its website that “respect for the environment is central to our approach. Wherever possible we prevent – or otherwise minimize, mitigate and remediate – harmful effects that our operations may have.”

However, the Bougainville Copper Agreement Act of 1967 — drafted when the region was under Australian administration as part of the former Territory of Papua and New Guinea — does not incorporate any significant environmental regulations or liability of BCL for the rehabilitation or restoration of areas affected by mining activities.

“Rio is now deeply hypocritical in its blatant disregard of the higher corporate responsibility standards it says it has adopted,” President Momis declared in a June 2016 media statement, following announcement of the company’s divestment. “Corporate social responsibility means responsible companies accept that their responsibilities go beyond the legal requirements of the day.”

Lee Godden, Director of the Centre for Resources, Energy and Environmental Law at Australia’s University of Melbourne, commented that: “Many of the early agreements between mining companies and the PNG Government did not contain effective clauses for environmental damage remediation….Typically it is not possible to retrospectively amend those agreements in light of subsequent damage or subsequent international law principles that have operated to address some of the balance of power problems in these early agreements.”

The Nasioi people were the first indigenous peoples to force a global mining multinational to flee one of its most lucrative extractive ventures. Photo by Catherine Wilson.

Putting pressure on Rio Tinto

Determined that the mining multinational should not escape accountability for environmental and social legacy issues, President Momis has called for “an international campaign to force Rio Tinto to accept its responsibilities” and sought advice on taking legal action.

However, taking the matter to court requires considerable funds — which the Bougainville Government, still heavily dependent on international aid and financial support from the national government, has limited access to. “We have financial constraints and these financial constraints make it difficult for us,” President Momis admitted.

And while Rio Tinto’s divestment resulted in the Bougainville Government acquiring an extra 36.4 percent shareholding in the Panguna mine and the PNG Government 17.4 percent  (with the latter gifting its shares to “the landowners and the people of Bougainville”), their value is negligible unless the mine is in production.

Even during the 17 years of copper extraction in Panguna, which generated an estimated 1.7 billion kina in total revenue (roughly US$1.44 billion at the time), only 1.4 percent was granted to landowners, while 61.5 percent went to the PNG Government.  Local resentment about the marked inequity of economic benefits was one of the major factors in the escalation of the civil war.

In 1989, indigenous landowners demanded compensation of 10 billion kina for the mine’s detrimental environmental and social impacts, as well as benefit-sharing grievances. When this was not met by Rio Tinto and BCL, they formed a rebel group, known as the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, and used explosives to destroy the mine’s power supply and bring the functioning of the mine to a standstill. In so doing, the Nasioi people of Central Bougainville became known as the first indigenous peoples in the world to force a global mining multinational to abandon one of its most lucrative ventures.

The PNG Government responded by imposing a blockade on Bougainville in 1990 and deployed its armed forces to quell the uprising. A civil war then raged between the national military and armed revolutionary groups, wreaking widespread destruction across the islands and leading to an estimated death toll of 15,000-20,000 lives, until a permanent ceasefire in 1998.

Today the long-term processes of post-conflict peace building, disarmament, reconciliation and reconstruction continue to consume the energy and resources of the government, international donors and local leaders and communities.  And memories of the violence, atrocities and injustices of the conflict are still vivid in the minds of many people throughout the region.

An estimated one-third of men and one in five women who were exposed to violence during the war now suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), while more than one in three men and women believe there is continuing lack of peace in their communities, according to a recent study by the United Nations Development Program.

The abandoned Panguna mine pit, as it is today. Photo by Catherine Wilson.

Walking away from the mine

For at least the past seven years, Rio Tinto has been engaged in discussions with the Bougainville Government about the possibility of returning to Panguna to recommence extraction of the estimated 3 million tonnes of copper reserves remaining there.

Rio Tinto’s final decision last year to exit Bougainville has been attributed primarily to both the dramatic fall in commodity prices in recent years and investor risks — including substantial opposition to the company’s return by landowners and communities in the Panguna mine lease area and the region’s uncertain political future.

“During the strategic review that led to the announcement in June 2016, Rio Tinto concluded that it would not be in a position to take part in future mining activities at Panguna and that it was in the best interests of BCL and its stakeholders to transfer our 53.8 percent shareholding to those better placed to determine the future direction of the company,” the Rio Tinto spokesperson stated.

However, the massive environmental legacy is still unaddressed and continues to affect the lives of indigenous communities, especially the Barapang, Kurabang, Basikang and Bakoringku clans who own the mine-pit land.  For customary landowners, “the land is like a mother because we feed on the land. It’s nothing compared to money.  I can always go to the land for food and nourishment,” Panguna landowner, Joanne Dateransi, explained.

Rivers and streams in the mine’s vicinity remain polluted and unusable as sources of freshwater or fish. Photo by Catherine Wilson.

There has been no official environmental assessment of the damage since the mine was deserted. But it is known that around 300,000 tonnes of ore and water were excavated every day in Panguna and the mine tailings were discharged down the Jaba River and into the Empress Augusta Bay, while the spoil and overburdens accrued in waste dumps in the Panguna area.  Local communities claim there has been no fish in the local Jaba and Kawerong Rivers for four decades.

The Bougainville authorities also report that: “The levy banks built by BCL to contain the flooding of nearby areas arising as the bed of the Jaba River rose (because of the depositing of vast amounts of tailings) were breached by floodwaters over 15 years ago. River water polluted by acid leached from the crushed tailings now floods huge areas of our people’s land all along the lower Jaba.”

And, further, a mammoth delta of tailings extends 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) into the sea on the west coast of Bougainville Island.

Social impacts include the forced relocation of at least five villages, such as Dapera and Moroni, to land unsuitable for growing crops and supporting livelihoods, while families were provided with cheap, substandard housing, resulting in severe overcrowding and health problems. The original location of the villages is now a barren terrain of waste rock.

Residents of relocated villages, such as Dapera and Moroni, have endured substandard housing and land unsuitable for food production. Photo by Catherine Wilson.

Funding a cleanup

President Momis says the government is keen to facilitate an expert environmental assessment.

“We are having discussions with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) about the possibility of organizing such a study and also a social impact study. We are also contacting international NGOs which support third world nations in the interests of preserving history, forests and ecological balance,” he said.

Following this, the most critical question is how a major environmental cleanup, which could cost billions, can now be pursued.

One option, according to the President’s office, is to set up a trust fund with potential contributions sought from the PNG and Australian Governments, as well as Rio Tinto, although, to date, Rio Tinto has not indicated any willingness to support such an initiative.

“World Bank or Asian Development Bank funding is sometimes available for this type of cleanup, but often that will mean a loan to what are impoverished governments which need to meet a range of other socioeconomic needs in their countries,” Professor Godden also advised.

President Momis suggests that “the only other way to fund a cleanup is through the resumption of mining. It [BCL] is now majority owned by the landowners and the Autonomous Bougainville Government and we believe the cleanup could be done concurrently with the reopening of the mine. During our discussions with them so far they have been conscious of their responsibilities.”

However, the capital investment required to reconstruct and reopen the Panguna mine is estimated to be about 20 billion kina ($6.3 billion) and securing investment of this magnitude will be a challenge in the current investment climate.

Gutted mine buildings in the forested mountain valley are now being reused by local communities. Photo by Catherine Wilson.

Recommencing large-scale mining is also seen by the authorities and some landowner groups as a way to acquire the sizeable revenues needed to generate economic self-sufficiency ahead of a referendum on Independence from PNG. A major provision in the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement, the referendum is planned to take place by 2020. At present, only 10 percent of the Bougainville Government’s annual budget of about 300 million kina derives from internal revenue.

Two years ago, the Autonomous Bougainville Government, which was established in 2005, passed its first mining law, thus paving the way with a legal framework for large-scale mining to be reconsidered in the region. The Bougainville Mining Act (2015 ) requires mining-lease applicants to protect the environment and comply with environmental policies and regulations, and stipulates that customary landowners have ownership of mineral resources found on their land. But, while they are entitled to consultation about exploration and mining interests, as well as related benefits and employment, the Bougainville Government retains exclusive powers over the granting of mining tenements and distribution of revenues.

Nevertheless, because of the unique history of the Panguna mine and the fact that its territory is controlled by the local Mekamui Tribal Government, comprising many former rebel leaders and combatants, any development or exploitation of Panguna’s resources will require the final consent of local chiefs and landowners. And reports in recent years have highlighted that a significant proportion of landowners in the Panguna mine lease area oppose large-scale mining on their customary land in the near future.

“We don’t need Rio Tinto or BCL,” Lynette Ona of the Bougainville Indigenous Women’s Landowner Association and a Panguna landowner declared. However, she added that a meeting was being planned in the near future so that people across Bougainville, not only local landowners, could voice their views on the question of mining.  If there is majority consent for this to happen, “then we have to bring in a new company after Independence, so that we can fund the economy, but we don’t want mining now,” Ona emphasized.

The “new BCL,” without Rio Tinto, has only begun articulating its future plans. Any provision, in this context, for an environmental cleanup is very unclear, but will come under severe scrutiny by those most affected, given that the history of the Panguna mine, to date, is a lesson in the shortcomings of corporate social responsibility.

 

Catherine Wilson is a journalist and correspondent reporting on the Pacific Islands region find her on LinkedIn.

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Bougainville #BCL Mining News : Seven reasons why : BCL no longer the ‘devil-we-know’, but the ‘devil-we-own

 

“As the ‘devil-we-own’, and one that is subject to the very tough requirements of the Bougainville Mining Act, BCL is now required to seek new investors into some sort of partnership with BCL, and come up with a deal acceptable to the landowners and to the ABG.

At this stage it is a decision that will be subject to the powers of the mine lease landowners under the Bougainville Mining Act to veto the project if they are not satisfied with the conditions for re-opening.

In addition, it will be subject to the ABG being satisfied – on behalf of all Bougainvilleans – that the project conditions are just and equitable.

As well as other Bougainvilleans may want to understand better why I announced ABG support for BCL. There are several separate but powerful reasons.

ABG President Chief Dr John Momis

The Autonomous Bougainville Government’s decision to support Bougainville Copper Limited’s proposal for reopening the Panguna Mine is only in principle.

ABG President Chief Dr John Momis said that at this stage it is a decision that will be subject to the powers of the mine lease landowners under the Bougainville Mining Act to veto the project if they are not satisfied with the conditions for re-opening.

In addition, it will be subject to the ABG being satisfied – on behalf of all Bougainvilleans – that the project conditions are just and equitable.

“As well as other Bougainvilleans may want to understand better why I announced ABG support for BCL. There are several separate but powerful reasons,” Momis said.

Momis explained that the first is that BCL is no longer owned by Rio. Rather, the ABG holds over 33 per cent of BCL shares, and the National Government has promised that the 17.4 per cent shares it received from Rio will be transferred to ownership of Bougainvilleans, including Panguna landowners.

This means that BCL is now a different company. It is not a subsidiary of Rio Tinto. Instead it is majority owned by Bougainvilleans.

“As a result, as stated recently by the new Vice President, BCL is no longer the ‘devil-we-know’, but is instead the ‘devil-we-own,” Momis said.

“As the ‘devil-we-own’, and one that is subject to the very tough requirements of the Bougainville Mining Act, BCL is now required to seek new investors into some sort of partnership with BCL, and come up with a deal acceptable to the landowners and to the ABG,” Momis said

Without such a deal, BCL will have little option but to cease existence – to liquidate and to distribute its remaining funds to its shareholders. At that point, Bougainville will be able to seek other potential developers.

A second reason why the ABG supports BCL is that BCL still holds an Exploration Licence over the area of the former Special Mining Lease. While it holds that licence, we must deal with BCL.

A third reason is that BCL is a reputable company, with reputable board members and management.

A fourth reason is that BCL still holds all the drilling and exploration data for the ore body at Panguna.

A fifth reason is that BCL shows willingness to deal with the legacy issues left by the operation when it closed in 1989.

A sixth reason is that BCL has shown responsibility over the past 5 years in working closely with the ABG and the 6 relevant landowner associations to gradually develop responsible and workable arrangements for making the payment of the 1990 land rents and occupation fees etc.

The seventh and final reason is that the leaders of the combined landowner associations have almost unanimously consistently indicated their support for BCL as the preferred company to become involved in re-opening Panguna.

“I emphasize, however, that despite all these reasons for supporting the BCL proposal, there are as yet no guarantees that it will be BCL that re-opens the mine,” Momis said.

“I must repeat the point already made that everything will depend on whether the ABG and the landowners are satisfied with the proposal that BCL eventually puts forward – provided of course that BCL is able to get the funding partners it will need to put forward a viable proposal,” Momis added.

Bougainville Cultural Tourism News : Teeth-Bits The Tama (Tama ) in modern culinary delights

 

” The variety prepared in earthen clay pot is called kakasi. It is a favourite often prepared for first time visitors or high end guests.

These days however, you can ask and have a kakasi done for you.

The kakasi feeds and is shared by more people as it comes in larger quantities the shape of dumplings fitted into a clay pot. The kakasi also keeps better overnight.”

From the Uruna Bay Resort, Pokpok Island Tours and Accommodation

Tama(tama) is the value-added product of 4-5 varieties of cooking bananas, pick of the best taros and white and yellow cassavas prepared in hot coconut oil by gentle hands.

Women collect the best mature coconuts from marked trees they and those before them have been selectively using for the best coconut oils. If they are from the one tree the end quality and taste is even better.

These (in the photo) long sausage-like shapes stirred hand cooked in virgin oil on selected banana leaves is called toronisi. A toronisi can also be a flat flour bun shape prepared in similar fashion in hot virgin oil on banana leaves.

How much of it should you eat? Tama(tama) and kakasi are best eaten on their own in moderate quantities. Eat too much and it can be too filling and get in the way of appetite and desire for the main dish. That is why it is best taken on its own as a culinary delight in its own right. In a way, in the annals of healthy eating advice it’s like saying protein and carbs and starchy foods do not mix very well.

But these days, especially at feasts or at receptions with varieties of other tuckers that come in all descriptions, shapes, tastes, sizes and colours it is the eyes that do most of the eating. The idea of proper food combination becomes merely a hand-to-mouth delight.

The tama(tama) has been thrown into the mix and fray when in fact it is a vegetarian dish that can best delight and be best enjoyed and satisfy any palate on its own.

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

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

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

Challenges and Upcoming Priorities

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

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

Joseph Nobetau Chief Secretary ABG

Download a PDF Copy of this report :

Media_Statement_-_Achievements_Joseph_Nobetau_Chief_Secretary_2017

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

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

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

Consultations

Ministers

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

Secretaries

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

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

Parliamentary Services

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

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

Community Government

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

International Engagement

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

Advisory Support and Donor Engagement

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

Aid Coordination

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

Bilateral and Multilateral Engagement

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

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

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

Community Engagement

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

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

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

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

Organisational Reform

Communication

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

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

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

Corporate Planning

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

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

Recruitment Processes

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

Retrenchments

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

Senior leaders Training

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

Overarching MoU on Draw Down of Powers

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

Financial Management and Elimination of Corruption

Financial Management Systems

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

Revenue and Taxation Summit

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

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

Referendum Preparations

Bougainville Referendum Commission

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

Challenges and Upcoming Priorities

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

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

 

 

 

Joseph Nobetau