Bougainville News : President Momis statement ABG engagement with Rio Tinto about Rio’s plans for its shares in Bougainville Copper -BCL

panguna

” I want to brief you on recent developments concerning Rio’s review because it is obviously a matter of great importance to the future of Bougainville. So all of you, as the elected representatives of the people, have the right to be kept advised of developments on this subject.

Another important reason for me making this statement is that there are still many quite crazy – long long olgeta – stories being spread by a few Bougainvilleans, and by a few of our more crazy international critics, that the ABG is under the control of Rio Tinto and BCL, and is selling out the interests of Bougainvilleans to big mining interests. When such stories are still being spread, by either self-interested liars or deeply misguided people, it is important that accurate information is available that allows you, as the people’s representatives, to make your own judgments about what is happening.

We also emphasised again that the ABG and landowners remain willing to engage with BCL and Rio about jointly examining the possibilities of re-opening the Panguna mine.

However, I also said that if Rio does decide to end its investment, then the ABG remains completely opposed to any equity transfer to the National Government. Instead, there must be equity transfer to the ABG and landowners, without any payment.

I also stated firmly the ABG position that Rio must take full responsibility for an environmental clean-up, and for dealing with other major mine legacy issues.

If, as now seems highly likely, Rio decides to end its involvement in BCL, the equity must come to Bougainville, and Rio Tinto must accept its full historic responsibilities, and honour its obligations to Bougainvilleans

I ask this House, and the people of Bougainville, to support my Government in its ongoing, life and death struggle, to protect the interests of the landowners, and of the wider Bougainville community.”

EDITED STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT JOHN. L. MOMIS, TO THE BOUGAINVILLE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 5 APRIL 2016

Mr. Speaker:

I rise to share with all members of this House the most recent developments in the ABG’s efforts of recent years in examining the options for the future of large-scale mining in Bougainville.

In particular, I am talking today about what is still the very uncertain future of the Panguna mine. Since the Bougainville Mining (Transitional Arrangements) Act in July 2014, the most immediate factor causing uncertainty has been Rio Tinto’s reaction to that Act doing away with BCL’s major mining tenements, replacing them with just an exploration licence over the former Special Mining Lease – the SML.

Rio Tinto is the London based giant mining company that since the early 1990s has been the 53.6 per cent majority shareholder in BCL. Rio announced in August 2014 that it would conduct a review into its investment in BCL. That announcement opened the real possibility that Rio Tinto would withdraw from any involvement in BCL.

Withdrawal of Rio would raise major uncertainties about the future of BCL, and what the ABG and landowner organisations had been doing for several years – that is, we had been engaging with BCL about the possible re-opening of Panguna.

Of course, the engagement process was still in its very early stages. No decisions had been made on the major issues of substance. Further, the Mining Act gave landowners a clear veto over re-opening.

But with the announcement of Rio Tinto’s review of its investment in BCL, most aspects of our engagement with BCL were put on hold. That is still the position today.

I want to brief you on recent developments concerning Rio’s review because it is obviously a matter of great importance to the future of Bougainville. So all of you, as the elected representatives of the people, have the right to be kept advised of developments on this subject.

Another important reason for me making this statement is that there are still many quite crazy – long long olgeta – stories being spread by a few Bougainvilleans, and by a few of our more crazy international critics, that the ABG is under the control of Rio Tinto and BCL, and is selling out the interests of Bougainvilleans to big mining interests. When such stories are still being spread, by either self-interested liars or deeply misguided people, it is important that accurate information is available that allows you, as the people’s representatives, to make your own judgments about what is happening.

Honourable Members may recall my statement to the House about the future of Panguna, made on 22nd December 2012. I then advised of the latest in a series of attempts that the National Government has made since at least 2014 to purchase Rio Tinto’s 53.6 per cent equity in BCL. This latest attempt was made from late November.

The Member of the National Parliament for Central Bougainville, Hon. Jimmy Miringtoro met me to tell me that National Government Minister, Hon. Ben Micah, wanted to discuss with me and Panguna landowner representatives the urgent need for the National Government to purchase the Rio Tinto equity. I subsequently met Mr. Micah, and then Mr. Micah together with the Prime Minister, Hon. Peter O’Neill.

In brief, they said it was an urgent necessity for the National Government to purchase the equity as soon as possible. Initially we were told we had to give our agreement by 7 December. The reason given was that if PNG did not purchase the equity, there was a grave risk that Rio would sell the equity to an un-named third party. Mr. Micah emphasised how much that would be against the interests of both Bougainville and PNG.

A major concern for me was that Mr. Micah emphasised that it would be far too sensitive to even mention or discuss environmental clean-up of Panguna with Rio Tinto. The sale of the shares was the only issue that could be discussed, He said that issues had to be dealt with only as a commercial transaction, without any reference to environmental issues.

I made it clear to both Mr. Micah and Mr. O’Neill that the ABG could not support the National Government proposals. At the same time, I made contact with Rio Tinto to check their position. I was advised that the Rio process to review its investment was ongoing, and that there was no immediate proposal to sell the equity in BCL.

So I then wrote a letter to the Prime Minister in mid-December saying it was not acceptable to Bougainville that the National Government become the major shareholder in, and in control of, BCL. I made it clear that if Rio Tinto does decide to withdraw from BCL, its shares must come to the ABG and the landowners. In addition, I said, Rio cannot be permitted to escape its clear responsibilities for an environmental clean-up, and for other mining legacy issues.

I also decided that because of the ‘strange’ information about Rio received from Mr. Micah and Mr. O’Neill, and the high degree of uncertainty about Rio’s plans, that I should re-establish direct communication with Rio Tinto. I had begun that direct communication in July last year at a meeting I had with their senior representatives in Singapore.

The main issues I raised in that meeting concerned why the Rio review process was taking so long – it had then been ongoing for 11 months. I also communicated to Rio the continued ABG and landowner interest in engaging with Rio and BCL about jointly examining the possibilities of re-opening the Panguna mine.

We achieved no concrete progress at that July meeting. But the ABG did make clear our view that if Rio does decide to withdraw from BCL that the ABG strongly opposes transfer of the equity to the National Government. I also indicated that we would then seek transfer of the equity to the ABG, and an environmental clean-up. Rio indicated willingness to negotiate such issues, but otherwise did not specifically respond to what I raised.

Rio agreed to my December proposal for renewed direct engagement, and we met again in Singapore in February. I was accompanied by the Minister for Mining and the Minister for Public Service.

This time we put a much more specific Bougainville position. I expressed deep concern about both the very long time that the Rio review of its investment in BCL was taking, and Rio’s failure to communicate at all about its progress.

After all, the ABG and landowners are significant stakeholders, and Rio has duties, that it acknowledges in its own published policies about how they do business, to maintain open communication with stakeholders.

We also emphasised again that the ABG and landowners remain willing to engage with BCL and Rio about jointly examining the possibilities of re-opening the Panguna mine.

However, I also said that if Rio does decide to end its investment, then the ABG remains completely opposed to any equity transfer to the National Government. Instead, there must be equity transfer to the ABG and landowners, without any payment.

I also stated firmly the ABG position that Rio must take full responsibility for an environmental clean-up, and for dealing with other major mine legacy issues.

I emphasised the history of BCL in Bougainville. Although it may have operated legally, under colonial legislation, the basis for the Bougainville Copper Agreement was clearly deeply unjust. It was not based on anything like the informed consent of impacted landowners, and almost completely ignored the concerns and interests of those landowners, and of Bougainvilleans more generally.

It was the long-term impacts of the injustice that led to action, not just by Ona and Serero, but also Damien Dameng, young mine workers, leaders of the Arawa Mungkas Association and the Bana and Siwai Pressure Groups, and others. Their key goal was NOT the long-term closure of the mine, but instead forcing BCL and the National Government to stop ignoring them. Instead, they wanted to negotiate a new and fair agreement, taking account of the concerns of landowners and the rest of the Bougainville community. Long term mine closure was not their goal, but rather the result of the much wider violent conflict that resulted from the conduct of first Police mobile squads and then PNGDF units deployed to Bougainville.

We stated clearly the need for Rio to honour the lessons that it had learnt from its Bougainville experience, and which it has since applied to its operations world-wide. As a result, widely published and advertised Rio policies emphasise principles of corporate social responsibility, informed consent by impacted indigenous communities, and the need to operate on the basis of terms that are just for all stakeholders.

The Rio officials made no official response. Other than emphasising the complexity of the issues involved, no explanation was offered for the long delay in completing the investment review. When pressed on when it could be expected to be complete, they indicated probably before the end of 2016.

In relation to the issues I raised about transfer of equity and Rio being responsible for a clean-up etc., I can understand that they might have some difficulties with what we put to them. Rio might feel, for example, that its majority-owned subsidiary (BCL) operated legally – in accordance with the laws of the day. Yet it lost everything at Panguna as the result of what they might see as a small violent group opposed to mining.

But if that is Rio’s position, then quite apart from the fact that the mine did not close because of Bougainville opposition to mining, in addition Rio would be ignoring its gravely serious responsibilities.

Rio Tinto is a foundation signatory to the sustainable development, and other principles of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM). Those principles are absolutely clear that the responsibilities of a mining company are not limited to its legal obligations alone – especially its legal obligations under deeply unjust colonial laws.

In today’s world, there is no doubt that Rio Tinto would be subject to intense international public criticism if it tried to walk away from its responsibilities for the environmental damage and other unjust legacies it created, or contributed to.

I presented Rio with a two page statement of the ABG position, and I seek leave of the House to table that document. I will arrange for copies to be provided to all members of the House.

The Rio officers indicated that they would consider the ABG position, and would respond within 2 to 3 months, probably at another meeting in Singapore. I am yet to hear more about such a meeting.

But I can assure this House, the Landowners from the former Panguna lease areas, and all other Bougainvilleans, that under my leadership, the ABG will continue to make it clear to both the National Government and Rio Tinto that Bougainville remains determined to protect its own interests.

It is not an option for the National Government to become majority shareholder of BCL.

If, as now seems highly likely, Rio decides to end its involvement in BCL, the equity must come to Bougainville, and Rio Tinto must accept its full historic responsibilities, and honour its obligations to Bougainvilleans. It cannot just walk away from Bougainville, and at the same time pretend to hold itself out to the world as a highly responsible company that learnt from its horrific experience in Bougainville by adopting new and appropriate modern standards of corporate responsibility.

I ask this House, and the people of Bougainville, to support my Government in its ongoing, life and death struggle, to protect the interests of the landowners, and of the wider Bougainville community.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

 

 

Bougainville Mining News: BCL chairman addresses AGM (Download full transcript)

panguna

“Let me assure you that the vision to return to active exploration and profitable, sustainable mining remains, with the active support of many local stakeholders.

The Board and Management of Bougainville Copper Ltd are well positioned to recognise the opportunities inherent in recent challenges, and to maintain progress in a new year.

I believe the economic self-sufficiency of Bougainville needs the successful development of Panguna “

The following is a transcript of the address given by BCL Chairman Peter Taylor to the Annual General Meeting in Port Moresby on Wednesday 29 April 2015. A PDF of the transcript can be downloaded here.

The Annual General Meeting gives me an opportunity, as chairman, to make a statement concerning the up-to-date affairs of the company. Copies of this statement will be distributed as you leave today, and with your permission, I would now like to present it.

Mining Legislation

The most significant event to impact the company in 2014 was the passing of new mining legislation by the Autonomous Bougainville Government, which creates uncertainty regarding Bougainville Copper’s rights to mining and exploration licences. The Bougainville Mining Act 2015 was passed on April 1, substantially mirrors the clauses of the Interim Mining Act, which has reclassed the existing Special Mining Lease as an Exploration Licence. There remains uncertainty over the seven (7) leases for mining purposes.

The Company made applications for new licenses and to affirm rights which appear to have been impacted by the interim ABG mining legislation. These applications have been declined. The final Bougainville Mining Act 2015 prevents the Mining Registrar from accepting or registering applications for tenements before October 1, 2015.

The company is taking some comfort from correspondence and continued dialogue with the ABG and President Momis where he acknowledges that the company is a holder of a Special Mining Lease prior to the Act coming into force. The Act substitutes the Special Mining Lease (SML) with an Exploration Licence. The Company will seek formal granting of the exploration licence and exclusive access to the SML area.

Given the potential impact of the new legislation, the Board has decided to take a full impairment of the value of the mine assets, and to restrict the flow of funds into some of BCL’s work programs. The impairment dramatically decreased the value of the company fixed assets and has resulted in a corresponding impairment expense in the Statement of Comprehensive Income. I will discuss the impact of the impairment shortly when I summarise the 2014 results.

Company representatives continue to engage with the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government seeking clarification of the company’s rights, and at the same time to explore legal options, as well as taking steps to protect BCL’s priority position should re-commencement of mining at Panguna be viable and approved.

The company’s major shareholder Rio Tinto announced in August 2014 “in light of recent developments in Papua New Guinea, including the new mining legislation passed earlier this month by the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Rio Tinto has decided now is an appropriate time to review all options for its 53.83 per cent stake in Bougainville Copper Ltd”

The review is ongoing.

President John Momis has emphasised that the new mining legislation was needed to address unregulated mining activity on Bougainville, and was not aimed at discouraging BCL. President Momis has supported redevelopment of the Panguna mine, subject to community support.

Given the uncertainty the company has minimised its Bougainville work programs.

Financial Results

The results for the year ended December 31, 2014 as reported in the Annual Report, record an operating loss of K9.1 million and an impairment charge of K166.6 million which equates to an overall loss of K175.7 million. This compares with the profit of K6.8 million in the previous year. The impairment charge reflects the diminishing rights of the company to the mine assets and resources with the directors acting prudently in impairing the mining assets completely. We continue to seek advice regarding all our options.

The value of the mining assets in 2013 was K197.9 million and after the asset revaluation reserve of K31.3 was reversed the net impact of the impairment recorded in the statement of comprehensive income was 166.6 million.

Revenue from Interest and Dividends (K4.9m) was slightly lower than budget (K5.1m).

Operational expenditure overall (K14.1m) was lower than budget (K15.9), reflecting the scaling back of work programs.

The company will not pay a dividend.

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

Taxation

I am pleased to report to the shareholders that the company has negotiated a settlement with the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Commission (IRC) in PNG. A scheduled second mediation occurred on 2nd April 2015. I am able to report the court has confirmed the company will receive back K39.7 million from the funds held on term deposit with the Registrar of the High Court. This concludes this long outstanding matter.

There was a total of K70.6 million reported in the 2014 Financial Statements as receivable. The IRC was paid K13.0 million in addition to K4.4 million of interest withholding tax. K14.0 million was agreed to be paid to the IRC in settlement from the K53.2 million, held on IBD for the national court, which leaves the Company with around K40 million.

Financial Assets and Investment strategy

At the end of 2014 Bougainville Copper’s liquid assets were K4.7 million in cash and K102 million in Australian equities. The company’ financial position is linked to the performance of the Australian equities market, which is in a positive phase.

In 2014 Bougainville Copper’s Australian Equities Portfolio, performed broadly in line with the Australian Stock Market.

It is intended to continue with the current investment strategy, for as long as the investment committee deems this to be the best option, or until such time as equities need to be sold to fund further work programs.

The company’s cash position is enhanced as a result of the conclusion of the taxation dispute.

Governance

Bougainville Copper has governance reporting obligations to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). A statement on the company’s compliance with the ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations is contained within the annual report. In addition, the company has adopted policies that seek to comply with Rio Tinto’s comprehensive range of policies including safety, environment, financial management and other governance practices. The company has chosen to early adopt the latest edition of the ASX principles, for the 2014 Financial Statements, one year before the mandatory adoption date.

Safety and Risk Management

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

The management of Bougainville Copper undertakes regular risk reviews.

Bougainville Copper Foundation

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

In 2014, as in previous years, the Foundation had more than 100 Bougainville students on scholarships. Many are continuing to be supported in 2015.

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

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

The Foundation continues to review its objectives and future direction. As mentioned, the Foundation is an independent body, and it is hoped that its range of activities will not be materially reduced by the factors that are now constraining some of BCL’s social and work programs.

I will now report on some other current events which have a bearing on the company’s prospects and its progress towards the vision of reopening the mine.

Work Programs

In view of recent actions of the Bougainville legislature, funding to progress all studies and welfare programs will be limited until uncertainties of tenure and the legislative regime are clarified.

During the period, limited work continued to refine the 2013 Order of Magnitude Study, which is an exercise aimed at giving the company guidance as to the most appropriate and cost effective way to re-develop the Panguna resource. It is one of the Board’s major tools in evaluating options going forward.

The Order of Magnitude Study is based on many assumptions including commodity prices, market demand, investor risk, opportunity costs, security of tenure and others. In brief it describes a new mine at Panguna processing between 60 million and 90 million tonnes of ore per annum, over a mine life of 24 years, with an estimated capital cost of 5.2 billion US dollars, as estimated in 2013.Further, more detailed studies, such as a pre-feasibility study and a feasibility study are required to confidently determine the potential economic viability of re-opening the mine. Only upon completion of those studies will the Board be sufficiently informed to take a decision whether or not to proceed with financing and commencement of construction.

The time-line to first production could be between five and seven years from the date of approval and financing.

Many of the assumptions, including the size of the resource, the life of the mine, and the start-up cost, may vary significantly when the company gains access to the former mine site and undertakes further work.

Several other studies were initiated by the company, in conjunction with the Bougainville Administration, aimed at providing a clearer picture of the environmental conditions, the needs of the population, training and employment readiness, as well as land ownership and social mapping. However the company is not in a position to commit to funding these studies until tenure is assured.

Bel Kol

Representatives of the customary landowners from the mine lease areas have requested that Bougainville Copper perform a cultural ceremony with them, Bel Kol.

The ceremony is aimed at restoring relationships between Bougainville Copper, landowners, the Autonomous Bougainville Government, ex-combatants and community leaders.

Significant progress was made towards Bel Kol by the end of 2014. A senior Bougainville Copper manager began regular travel and participated in discussions in Central Bougainville.

Bel Kol is now postponed until after the Bougainville elections. As a gesture of goodwill, the company will make commitments to support programs focused towards health and education initiatives.

The company has asked for open access to Panguna and the area covered by the original Special Mining Lease, assurances of safety, and an invitation to establish a presence in Arawa, as a base for field work, baseline studies and social mapping previously mentioned, and for the recruitment of local people to participate in drilling and other evaluation and de-risking programs

A training program has been jointly designed, to be supported by the company, to prepare members of the lost generation for work opportunities.

Joint Panguna Negotiations

The Joint Panguna Negotiation Coordination Committee (JPNCC) consisting of National Government and ABG representatives, together with landowner and company delegates, was active in 2014 in defining several baseline studies and preparing to implement them.

The JPNCC has established a Multi Trust Fund, to manage joint monies including aid, and to conduct the process of tendering and awarding the baseline studies, in order to vest the findings of studies with arms-length transparency, and credibility with all parties. The Trust Fund formally came into effect in November 2014.

Senior PNG statesman Sir Peter Barter accepted chairmanship of the Multi Trust Fund, and as a respected Bougainville peace-maker, reminded the people of his long held view that there can be no meaningful autonomy without a viable economy.

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

Events on Bougainville

There have been a number of developments in Bougainville, including Prime Minister Peter O’Neill who visited Bougainville and Panguna in January 2014, and visited again in December 2014 to re-open the Aropa airport.

Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop visited the region.

Preparations for elections to the Parliament of the Autonomous Bougainville Region are gathering pace, polling scheduled for May 2015, with results known during June.

President John Momis is one of nine candidates seeking election.

There has been a re-structure of the Bougainville Public Service administration.

The relationship between President Momis, his government, and the Board and management of Bougainville Copper remains cordial.

The regulatory regime and the company’s position

The practical effect of the permanent mining legislation requires further clarification so that the long term mining regime for Bougainville is settled, allowing the company to factor these terms into its assessment of the viability of the potential mine redevelopment.

The next phase of study, a pre-feasibility study on reopening the mine, will be very expensive, and requires certainty of a workable mining regime and conditions prior to committing the study funds.

I wish to restate that even if further studies confirm that recommencement of mining is economically attractive, mining at Panguna cannot recommence unless all parties: the Landowners, the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the National Government of PNG, and BCL, are acting in close accord, now and into the future.

Funding and sovereign risk assurance for the project will require a united effort. Investors also need a fair and stable regulatory regime that gives them the confidence to commit to a project that will require billions of dollars of investment.

Conclusion

Let me assure you that the vision to return to active exploration and profitable, sustainable mining remains, with the active support of many local stakeholders.

The Board and Management of Bougainville Copper Ltd are well positioned to recognise the opportunities inherent in recent challenges, and to maintain progress in a new year.

I believe the economic self-sufficiency of Bougainville needs the successful development of Panguna.

The company faces the coming year with resolve and determination.

For your further information, I remind you that reports and commentaries of the company’s activities are regularly reported to the Australian Securities Exchange and associated media, and can also be accessed on our website.

Bougainville Mining News: Bougainville mine now in play, government says

PNG PM

Secret dealings of this kind are completely unacceptable to the people of Bougainville, It would be unacceptable to the people of Bougainville for the national government to try to take control of Panguna. Such a move, would trigger demands for immediate independence “

“We cannot allow a new form of colonial dealings in Bougainville’s resources to occur.”

Bougainville President John Momis

The Bougainville Autonomous Government is convinced Bougainville Copper — which owns a mine containing copper and gold worth more than $50 billion, as well as a recently ­reconfirmed exploration licence — is now in play.

As reported in todays Australian Newspaper  By: Rowan Callick Asia Pacific Editor

Bougainville President John Momis last week called on Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Rio Tinto to reveal any dealings over Rio’s 53.58 per cent shares in BCL.

“For over a year now, Mr O’Neill has expressed interest in the national government taking control of BCL,” Mr Momis said.

“He proposes that PNG operate the Panguna mine in Bougainville in the same way it operates the Ok Tedi mine,” which Mr O’Neill’s government took over in 2013.

The PNG government has hired Peter Graham, who led ExxonMobil’s successful construction of the country’s first liquefied natural gas project, to manage Ok Tedi mine and potentially to steer other state-owned mining assets.

The Bougainville mine, which was closed by conflict in 1989 and which would cost an estimated $6.5bn or more to reopen, is also owned 19.06 per cent by the PNG government, and 27.36 per cent by other shareholders.

Mr O’Neill confirmed that “we have had discussions with other shareholders of BCL on a range of issues including the reopening of the mine and the disposal of shares by existing shareholders, including Rio Tinto”.

But, he added, “There are no secret deals, and we are disappointed that President Momis is trying to use this issue at the time of the election” for a new Bougainville government that takes place at the end of next month.

“President Momis has been informed of whatever talks we have with other shareholders of BCL, only because the state is the second biggest shareholder,” Mr O’Neill said.

There would be no talks about reopening the mine, he said, “until landowners and the people of Bougainville are ready”.

It is understood the Momis government’s concern was aroused by information it had received that law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, which does a considerable amount of work for Rio internationally, had instructions to handle the sale of Rio’s shares, and had held discussions with agents in Port Moresby in relation to the deal. A Norton Rose Fulbright spokesman declined to comment when questioned by The Australian.

The BCL share price suddenly soared by 50 per cent a fortnight ago. The ASX issued a “speeding ticket”, asking the company to explain the leap. BCL said it couldn’t.

Mr Momis, whose government has recently passed new mining legislation that hands back control of all resources to landowners, said: “We cannot allow a new form of colonial dealings in Bougainville’s resources to occur.”

He said that last month he wrote to BCL, seeking advice from either it or Rio Tinto, about whether share transactions between Rio and PNG were under discussion or preparation.

“I received a brief reply from Rio, addressed to BCL but passed on to me, dated March 23. The letter simply stated that ‘Rio Tinto … is reviewing its options with respect to its stake in Bougainville Copper Ltd. This review is continuing’,” Mr Momis said.

“Secret dealings of this kind are completely unacceptable to the people of Bougainville,” he said. “It would be unacceptable to the people of Bougainville for the national government to try to take control of Panguna.” Such a move, he said, would trigger demands for immediate independence.

Peter Taylor, who has been chairman of BCL for 12 years, told The Australian “the Bougainville government seems to want the mine reopened, but we have to sit down … and see what’s doable”.

Bougainville Mining News: Momis continues “ethic” attack on Australian research

JM PO

Jubilee Australia claims to be a body undertaking ‘scientific research’. Any scientific research body must adhere to strict ethical standards when planning, carrying out, and reporting on its research.

“Jubilee and its partners were researching sensitive issues in Bougainville’s complex post-conflict situation. The research, and Jubilee’s report, involve serious risks, not just for those being interviewed, but for the wider Bougainville community. By taking sides on complex, divisive issues, Jubilee has added to sources of division and conflict

President Momis raising new issues about Jubilee : Pictured above with PNG PM Peter O’Neil on a visit to Panguna earlier this year

We welcome your comments (see below)

MOMIS QUERIES JUBILEE AUSTRALIA’S RESEARCH ETHICS

The President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) has raised new questions about research about Bougainville undertaken by Australian NGO, Jubilee Australia. Jubilee’s report was released in Australia in September.

On the basis of interviews with just 65 people selected because they opposed resuming mining at Panguna, Jubilee claimed that the Panguna mine affected communities as a whole were also opposed to mining. But as President Momis has pointed out, there are between 10,000 and 15,000 people in those communities, a majority supporting resumption of mining.

BOUGAINVILLE MINING LEGISLATION AND REGULATIONS DEVELOPMENT

Presentation to the people of Bougainville

Download Here

BOUGAINVILLE Policy Act and Regulations Presentation to landowners

In a series of three letters to Jubilee in September, October and November, President Momis has criticised the report. He questioned research methodology used, false claims made on the basis of interviews with a tiny selected group of opponents of mining, many serious factual errors in the report, and the track record of opposition to BCL and Rio Tinto on the part of Jubilee Australia’s research partners, Kristian Lasslett and the Bismarck Ramu Group.

The President was especially critical of Jubilee’s failure to at any time communicate with the ABG or Panguna landowner associations about the research – failing even to seek ABG views on a draft of the report before it was published. He agreed with an Australian academic who criticised Jubilee as involved in advocacy, not research.

Today President Momis raised new issues about Jubilee and its research. He said:

“Jubilee Australia claims to be a body undertaking ‘scientific research’. Any scientific research body must adhere to strict ethical standards when planning, carrying out, and reporting on its research.

“Jubilee and its partners were researching sensitive issues in Bougainville’s complex post-conflict situation. The research, and Jubilee’s report, involve serious risks, not just for those being interviewed, but for the wider Bougainville community. By taking sides on complex, divisive issues, Jubilee has added to sources of division and conflict.

It has undermined the carefully considered efforts of the democratically established ABG to build consensus amongst divided Bougainvilleans on the difficult issues involved in choices on mining.

“If Jubilee had been adhering to proper ethical research standards, they would not have intervened in this complex situation, and taken sides. They would not have rejected having any form of communication with the ABG and landowner associations.

“Jubilee Australia’s website claims that their research program is overseen by a Research Centre Advisory Committee comprising ‘leading Australian academics’, which they say strengthens Jubilee’s ‘capacity for rigorous, academic based research’. Such a Committee should surely play the most important role of setting and overseeing Jubilee’s research ethics.

“But it now emerges that a member of that six member Advisory Committee who had extensive knowledge of PNG was never informed by Jubilee about the research. This fact may help explain Jubilee’s use of badly flawed research methodology. It raises serious questions about how Jubilee ensures that its research adheres to the highest standards of research ethics expected of a ‘scientific research’ body.

“I have today written to Jubilee’s Board, asking when they will respond to the issues raised in my two most recent letters to them about their report (dated 26 October and 2 November). But in addition I have raised serious questions about how Jubilee ensures that proper standards of research ethics are met, so that its otherwise well-intentioned work does not descend into advocacy of particular unsubstantiated viewpoints.

“I have further asked how Jubilee can be held accountable in terms of their ethical standards. Jubilee is an Australian NGO working on international development issues. Most such NGOs are members of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), which administers a complaints process that can handle queries about NGO research ethics.

“But from the list of members appearing on the ACFID website, it appears that Jubilee is not a member of ACFID. If so, the ABG cannot seek to hold Jubilee accountable through ACFID. I am questioning Jubilee’s board as to whether it is open to being held accountable by independent bodies.

“I have further asked Jubilee to advise whether any non-citizens who have been in PNG at any time to undertake this research have held the research visas required under PNG law.

President Momis concluded:

“The ABG welcomes thorough research, and well-informed criticism. But it expects outside research bodies, in particular, to observe the highest standards and principles. In this case, there are grave doubts about many aspects of what Jubilee has done.

“Further, Jubilee has shown little willingness to be in communication with the democratic government of Bougainville. Their one communication with us in the more than two years they have been doing their Bougainville ‘research’ was a letter in late October stating that my criticisms of their report were ‘without basis’. I now call on Jubilee’s Board to engage with the ABG in relation to the serious questions that we are asking, both in today’s letter, and my letters of October and November.”

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Bougainville Education News :Essay competition is an opportunity for students to have their say about the Bougainville’s future

2014-05-26 12.56.40

A new essay competition for secondary and high school students in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville will provide youth with an opportunity to have their say about the future of the region.

Revised Closing date Friday 13 March 2015

The topic

“Is having a vote enough? What are citizens’ responsibilities in promoting and upholding democracy?”

aims to engage youth in discussion and what they see for their own future as Bougainvilleans.

Sponsored by the Australian High Commission in Papua New Guinea, the competition offers a laptop computer as a first prize.

The secondary and high school that the winning student attends will receive a Kindle (Can hold up to 1,400 books) from the Arawa based Bougainville E-reader Education Revolution Project that currently has 55 Kindles being distributed to 11 schools throughout Bougainville. SEE WEBSITE

Entries are open now and close on Friday 13 March 2015

The essay competition is open to all high school and secondary school students in Bougainville. Essays are to be 600 – 1000 words.

Entries can be mailed or submitted in person to the Australian High Commission Buka Office, Tsirin Motors Building, Haku Street, Buka or emailed to Public-Affairs-PortMoresby@dfat.gov.au

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Bookgainville  Project on Bougainville PNG

Bougainville News: Torokina Community have welcomed Operation Render Safe

Delegation Welcomed in Torokina

 

The Torokina Community in South Bougainville have welcomed Operation Render Safe into their area and see it as a positive step toward development.

Apart from reservations raised by ex-combatants and some leaders the Torokina people when welcoming the dignitaries from the representative nations taking part in the operation expressed their gratitude to them.

On hand were the National Member for South Bougainville and Minister for Bougainville Affairs as well as the ABG President Chief Dr John Momis.

President Momis said that the help from the Australian Government as well as the other nations participating in the operation will create a conducive atmosphere for the people and the government to embark on new socio economic development.

Delegation aboard HMSA Choules

“I would also like to thank the leaders and people of Torokina for accepting the development into their communities and to allow this operation to create safer communities in the District.

“With the ABG’s aspirations to create a democratic government which is our primary objective, we also have to provide services for our people, with this being said services are not an easy task,” the President said.

President Momis said that despite the incapacities of Bougainville’s internal revenue the government is still committed to providing basic services to the people of Bougainville/

The President added that Operation Render Safe will pave the way forward for development in the area.

The President’s sentiments were shared by Minister for Bougainville Affairs Steven Pirika who stated that for too long the people of Torokina suffered from the remnants of war left behind by the allied forces.

UK soldier demonstrates to President, High Com Deborah Stokes & Torokina MP Steven Suako

Minister Pirika said that move by the governments of the allied forces to remove the unexploded ordnances in the area is a sure sign of development and partnership between all the stakeholders involved in the operation.

Operation Render Safe is currently underway and involves military personal from Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand and police from the Solomon Islands.

The Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams from the taskforce nations have uncovered over 3000 landmines and bombs from WWII.

The EOD teams will be stationed along in Torokina for the duration of the operation and try to cover as much land area as possible.

 

Bookgainville  Project on Bougainville PNG

Bougainville Panguna News : President Momis in depth response to controversial Jubilee report

President Momis

 

Members of the Board and Academic Advisory Board 24 October 2014

Dear Board Member,

I refer to my letter of 20th September 2014 expressing concerns about Jubilee Australia’s report, ‘Voices of Bougainville’. Almost five weeks have elapsed, and I’m yet to receive even an acknowledgment of my letter, let alone a considered response.

On the other hand, there have been several public statements made about the report. Some were made by Jubilee CEO, Ms. Brynnie Goodwill, both in advance of, and since, my letter. Others were made only after my letter, by Jubilee Board Chair, Luke Fletcher, and by Kristian Lasslett (an academic who acknowledges overseeing preparation of the report). In this letter I raise grave concerns about misleading statements made in those statements, and raise issues about aspects of the report additional to those raised in my earlier letter.

Jubilee’s Condescending Public Response

See printed version here Jubilee Australia_Board Response to President Momis

I have general concerns about the remarkably condescending nature of the position taken by the Chair of the Jubilee Board, Luke Fletcher, in his comments reported on Radio Australia on 2nd October.

First he claimed that ‘some of the comments on the report may reflect people who perhaps didn’t read it carefully enough, in terms of some of the criticism that have been made’. In the context this appears to refer to my assertion that the report claimed to represent views of ‘mine-affected communities’, and not merely the few people interviewed. I can assure Mr. Fletcher that I have read the report with great care. As he challenges my assertions in regard to what the report claims, I have little choice but to set out clearly for him (and for Mr. Lasslett, who made much the same comment), in the next part of this letter, exactly what the report says as to it representing the views of the mine-affected communities.

Second, Mr. Fletcher said that Jubilee will carefully consider the criticisms of the report. But by also saying that it’s ‘very unlikely’ that the report will be ‘withdrawn’, he made it quite clear that Jubilee had essentially pre-judged the issues involved. To me, it’s like a court announcing publicly before a criminal trial that it will consider the evidence seriously, but it’s ‘very unlikely’ the defendant could be innocent.

Jubilee’s Claim that Report Represent only the Views of those Interviewed

In my letter of 20th September, a key concern was that the report claimed that interviews with 65 people (and a ‘focus group’ of 17 others) represented the views of the 10,000 or more people of the former Panguna mine lease areas. I vigorously disputed that claim.

Fletcher responded by saying: ‘The report stated a number of times it represented only the people in Panguna who were consulted in the study’ (Post Courier, 8/10/2014). Fletcher was ‘echoing’ Lasslett, who said: ‘The report never claims to speak on behalf of Bougainvilleans. It only claims to have presented the views relayed by 65 interviewees’ (see his response to a critique by Dr. Don Mitchell: http://ramumine.wordpress.com/2014/09/24/momis-makes-a-predictable-attack-on-voices-of-bougainville-report/).

It’s true that at some points the report does state that it records views expressed by interviewees (mainly in sections dealing with ‘research findings’ derived from interviews).

But in fact the report makes far grander claims. Significantly, such claims appear mainly in sections discussing research goals (under the heading ‘Addressing Gaps in Knowledge’) and conclusions. Frequent and explicit statements are made that the report represents views of the people of the ‘mine-affected areas’, or ‘mine-affected communities’, or ‘stakeholders … affected by the Panguna mine’.

Given the limited understanding that those involved in overseeing preparation of the report evidently have about many aspects of contemporary Bougainville, it may assist the Board if I explain what the term ‘mine-affected areas’ means in Bougainville. It covers a swathe of land areas once covered by mining tenements held by BCL (though recently done away with by the ABG Mining (Transitional Arrangements) Act), or land leases associated with the Panguna mine. These include:

 The three main former ‘leases for mining purposes’, namely:

o the Loloho lease, used for port facilities, power station and a recreation area;

o the Port-Mine-Access Road lease; and

o the Tailings lease, and

 the former Special Mining Lease; and

 the Siokate Lease, involving Arawa Village land used for part of Arawa Town.

The term also includes large areas adjacent to those former leases that were also affected by mine. These include an extended area south and north of the main leases on the western side of the mountains, where landowners received compensation from BCL for loss of fish in creeks and rivers that feed into the Kawerong and Jaba rivers.

The people of all of these areas are represented by the nine landowner associations mentioned in the Jubilee Report (p.6). It is estimated that well over 10,000 people live in the areas covered by the former BCL tenements and the Siokate lease, and several thousand more live in the area where many once received fish compensation, and now covered by the Bolave Fish Owners Association (one of the nine landowner associations).

Under the heading ‘Addressing Gaps in Knowledge’, the report talks of ‘this study’s systematic attempt to record the views of those living in the mine affected areas’ (emphasis added). It goes on to say that ‘this study was undertaken in order to empirically gauge the feelings of the mine-affected communities towards current plans to reopen the mine’ (emphasis added). The report states that important questions associated with that major goal include examining: ‘To what extent have communities been adequately engaged with, and consulted’ and whether ‘they’ (i.e. ‘communities’) ‘want the mine to reopen’ and so on (p.17). Very clearly, the report aims to draw conclusions from the research as to what ‘mine-affected communities’ (not just those interviewed) believe about the future of mining.

Similarly, in the ‘Appendix: Research Methodology’, under the heading ‘Aims and Objectives’, the report discusses research aims as recording ‘perceptions’, ‘experiences’, and ‘understandings’ of the ‘community’ and of ‘mine-affected communities’ (p.48).

At page 46, under the heading ‘Conclusion’, the report states that it is presenting ‘a number of preliminary observations about the views of the mine-affected communities’ (emphasis added):

 ‘First, and most importantly, the stakeholders who have been most affected by the Panguna mine and subsequent conflict, are at present staunchly opposed to any discussion of the mine’s reopening’ (emphasis added);

 In relation to the second observation, that ‘people we spoke to were deeply critical of the mine consultation process’, the report draws a conclusion that ‘any attempt to reopen the mine in the present environment would almost certainly be received by most in the landowning community as illegitimate’ (emphasis added);

 The third observation is that ‘the people of Panguna have developed a sophisticated understanding of the actors involved in the conflict’, an observation which while expressed to be based on the views of ‘the people who have been consulted in this study’ is clearly stated to be a conclusion applying far beyond just those people (emphasis added);

 The fourth observation concerns the view of ‘those who participated in this study’ on the need to consider alternatives to industrial scale mining. But the report goes on to say: ‘These are the deeply held views of large sections of the mine-affected communities, and cannot be simply dismissed as an outside agenda, or as materially infeasible’. The report then takes a stronger stance on the extent to which such views are held, stating that ‘the mine-affected communities would like to see a modality of development take place that they control … (emphasis added).

In a sub-section of the Conclusion headed ‘Connecting the Past and the Future’, after several paragraphs that do refer to the views of the people spoken to, the report says: ‘The people of Panguna clearly say that, unlike in the past, they would like a say in how they control natural resources of the land in which they live’, which ‘would appear to preclude the sort of industrial scale operations that the ABG appears to have in mind… (emphasis added) (p.46).

There seems little doubt as to what Jubilee believed, at least initially, as to the views of those interviewed in fact representing the views of many others. Jubilee chief executive, Ms. Brynnie Goodwill, is reported as having said in a discussion of the report and its findings on Radio New Zealand on 17 September, before any public criticism had been made of the report:

 ‘Currently there is near unanimity among the Pangunans that they do not want mining in their region’ (‘Pangunan’ is not a term used in Bougainville);

 ’I think that what has been loudly said by the Panguna communities is that other opportunities need to be explored …;

 ‘So I think what the Pangunan communities are saying is that many more issues need to be addressed first and foremost…,

(emphasis added).

Not only does the report reach conclusions about what ‘mine-affected communities’ want, but it records conclusions about what the relevant views of those communities ‘preclude’, in terms of ABG policy!

I was undoubtedly the most outspoken critic of the report prior to 2nd October, when Mr. Fletcher made comments on Radio Australia on 2nd October concerning criticisms made of the report. As noted already, responses from both Fletcher and Lasslett attacked assertions that the report claims to represent mine-affected communities. In the context, I must assume that Fletcher’s remarks about critics not having read the report ‘carefully enough’ were at least in part directed at me.

In circumstances where the aims and concluding sections of the report are so clearly expressed as broadly representative, I am compelled to seek an explanation for his response, which is not only condescending, but also false. Of course, I do not suggest Mr. Fletcher or Mr. Lasslett have been deliberately dishonest in their responses on this issue. Is it they, perhaps, that have not read their report carefully enough? If not, what other explanation could there be?

Representation of Voices not Heard

The report makes much of the claim that it ‘endeavours to relay voices from mine-affected communities in Bougainville, voices that have been distant from recent public discussions surrounding the mine’ (p.5). Ms. Goodwill is quoted as saying the report was intended to ‘support the airing of voices of mine-affected communities …and to ensure those voices could become part of a broader discussion and debate.’ (Helen Davidson, Guardian Australia, 1st October 2014).

Not only does Jubilee imply that it is breaking remarkable new ground by revealing opposition to mining, but there is also a strong implication that such voices have been excluded from debates on the subject. There is absolutely no basis for such views.

It is absolutely no surprise that there Bougainvilleans, especially in the mine-affected areas, that oppose resumption of mining at Panguna. Their views are well-known, well-understood, well-respected, and accepted. Those who support resumption of mining are not trying to suppress such views, for invariably they too have deep concerns about, and make strong criticisms of, mining, especially (though not only) in relation to the way it was conducted at Panguna from the late 1960s.

There is no exclusion, however, of anti-mining views from debate on the future of mining in Bougainville. If you or your researchers had engaged with the ABG or the executives of the landowner associations, you could have heard much more about the role of such voices in the ongoing debates. At the various public forums on the future of mining, vigorous debate has always included voices strongly opposed to mining. Such voices have been welcomed, and listened to with care.

For example, at the two day Women’s Forum on the future of mining, held in Buka in March this year, over 200 women attended. They were selected not by the ABG, but rather by a wide range of women’s organisations. After a day of general discussion, involving a multiplicity of voices, some strongly opposed to mining, they broke into their district groupings to discuss their views. In the report-back session at the end of the second day, of the 13 district groups all but one reported support for resumption of mining at Panguna, subject to strict conditions. Panguna district was amongst those in support. The exception (where mining was opposed) was Kunua District, on the north-west coast. No pressure was applied to any individual or group to support or to oppose resumption of mining.

Again, it’s not surprising that there are some Bougainvilleans who hold negative views of the consultation processes conducted by the ABG and landowner associations. Part of the problem concerns access difficulties arising from such things as scattered settlement patterns, limited transport, limits on access to some mine-affected communities resulting from the armed Me’ekamui roadblock at the Morgan Junction, and the limited financial resources available under the ABG budget. But to suggest that those few views about the consultation processes are representative of ‘most in the landowning community’ (Report, p.47) is deeply misleading.

The ABG is a government committed to consultation and to listening. We are not squashing any voice. We welcome the contributions of those who oppose mining. The strong opposite implication in your report is unjustified and unfair.

Fear and Trepidation on the Part of Interviewees

Mr. Fletcher is reported as saying that Jubilee’s decision not to talk to the ABG or Landowner associations ‘was deliberate’. As there was no communication of any kind with us at any point from initial planning through to public release of the report, he clearly believes that to communicate with us in any way at all and at any stage may have made it difficult for landowners ‘to feel comfortable’. It seems that the only option for Jubilee was total secrecy! Accordingly, Fletcher says, it was ‘a deliberate strategy to try and come in as independent and not be perceived and to be part any particular agenda’. This approach, he says, was demonstrated to be needed because some people ‘wouldn’t have spoken to us if we were allied with these groups’ (Radio Australia interview, 2 October 2014).

The clear implication here goes beyond suggesting that opponents of mining are excluded from debate. The suggestion is that they must also live in in fear of the ABG or the landowner associations should they express views contrary to mining. That is simply not the case. In all the extensive public consultation about mining conducted by the ABG and landowner associations, all voices are encouraged and supported to speak out. Read the daily newspapers, listen to the two main radio services, look at social media (such as the Facebook Bougainville Forum), and you will find many contributions to the debate on the future of mining coming from opponents to mining. These contributors freely provide their names, clearly not feeling any fear of retribution for their actions. There is absolutely no sense of this reality portrayed in the report, with its suggestions of the need for secrecy.

Given the limited contact that some people in parts of the Panguna area have with the outside world, it’s no surprise that some might express concern about researchers not being independent. But being in communication with the ABG is not the same as being allied to it. Surely independence can be demonstrated by means other than having no communication of any kind, or at any time, with the ABG or the landowner associations? Many other researchers work in Bougainville, and remain independent, whilst at the same time maintaining communication with us. At the very least, Jubilee could have been in contact with the ABG after the interviews had been done. 6

The ABG and the landowner associations are significant stakeholders, and as such at the very least a draft of the report could have been provided to us. We may even have assisted you with information that reduced the factual errors and significant mis-representations that litter the report.

Frankly, the most likely explanation of your failure to have any contact with the ABG and the landowners associations seems to be completely unfounded assumptions made by those involved in overseeing development of the report about voices opposed to mining being excluded or suppressed by the ABG.

Research Methodology

In addition to the critique of the methodology used in the research that I made in my earlier letter, I note that providing key stakeholders an opportunity to comment on a draft report before it is released is usually part of appropriate and robust research methodology. Jubilee’s failure to follow this quite standard approach is yet another grave weakness in methodology.

Second, I request Jubilee to consider the critiques of Jubilee’s research methodology made by Dr. Don Mitchell (above) and also by Joanne Wallis on the Dev Policy Blog on 3rd October (http://devpolicy.org/the-dangers-of-development-ngos-sacrificing-accuracy-for-advocacy-20141003/).

I emphasise again my deep concern that the actual interview questions asked of the interviewees have not been provided as part of the report. Dr. Mitchell quite rightly said: ‘I’m sure I could go back to Nagovisi …and create a series of questions to get pretty much any response I wanted to. Anybody could …It’s not difficult; it has to do with the nature of the questions and the way that they’re asked, as well as of whom they are asked. It’s basic research design, and research reports that do not divulge the questions cannot be taken seriously’.

In that connection, I draw your attention to issues about the broad ‘research questions’ which were the focus of the research (see p.17 and p.50). Were the interview questions asked in the same order as those broader research questions (listed on p.50)? If so, that involved taking interviewees through discussion of first, their concerns about and/or experience of the mine and the conflict, and only then asking their views on re-opening of the mine. As I presume you are aware, the ordering of the subjects discussed could alone have a significant impact on answers about re-opening the mine. (As Dr. Mitchell says of interview questions, ‘the way that they’re asked is critically important’.) Anyone conducting even a basis public opinion survey is well aware of the need to avoid such problems.

The report states that there was ‘a list of questions and main topics for the interviewers to draw on and use as guides to orient the interviews’ (p.49).

If this report is to have any credibility, it is essential not only that the list of questions asked, but also the order in which they were asked, be revealed.

Who Did the Research?

Dr. Mitchell also asked: ’Who did the data analysis? Were any of the fieldworkers social scientists?’. When Lasslett defended what had been done, Mitchell commented further: ‘I didn’t see the names and credentials of the researchers. I think that is important. Can you tell me why that is? Field research isn’t something just anybody can do, or, putting it another way, even a first rate researcher’s skill set might not be appropriate to a particular research setting. I’d like to know whether the two researchers were social scientists, whether they had advanced training ..’. I concur with Dr. Mitchell.

Similarly, in answering criticism of the Report, Mr. Fletcher states that even though Jubilee will look at comments made, it ‘is very unlikely’ that the Report will be withdrawn. He advances what he calls a ‘particular reason’ for that view: ‘…that the people who were involved in this report are all very highly qualified academics and all the questions that are being raised about the report are questions we had with ourselves and very deeply before we released it’. Lasslett ‘echoes’ Fletcher in his response to Don Mitchell.

These points do not advance Jubilee’s cause. The claim that ‘highly qualified academics’ were involved means little when their names are not provided. Moreover, as Mitchell notes, even the best researchers may not be well qualified for particular tasks. Please advise us who they were.

Finally, the argument advanced by both Fletcher and Lasslett that those involved in the research asked themselves questions similar to the criticisms now being made in no way answers the criticisms. If those questions were in fact asked by Jubilee, then it seems clear that its answers were, at best, somewhat flawed.

Jubilee’s Collaborators

In my earlier letter I commented upon Jubilee having collaborated in this research with organisations ‘vehemently opposed to large-scale mining and to the ABG’s mining policy’ (namely Bismarck Ramu Group – BRG – and International State Crime Initiative – ISCI). Mr. Fletcher responds by saying that Jubilee has ‘found them to be thoroughly professional’ (PNG Post Courier, 8/10/2014).

Perhaps Mr. Fletcher has not had the opportunity to examine the remarkable range of utterly unsubstantiated, deeply unfair and unbalanced, and often quite inflammatory and divisive attacks on the ABG, on me, and on advisers to the ABG, made on the BRG Blog, PNG Mine Watch. These attacks are part of a concerted campaign mounted against the ABG since about February 2013, in relation to its efforts to develop an appropriate mining policy for Bougainville. Significantly, most attacks on the Blog are anonymous.

Should Jubilee Board members not be familiar with it, the link to Bougainville material on the PNG Mine Watch Blog is https://ramumine.wordpress.com/tag/bougainville/.

Perhaps Mr. Fletcher is also unaware of the wide range of contributions by Lasslett on various forms of social media, again since early 2013. Lasslett is apparently well-intentioned, He is articulate, writes well, and is able to debate issues well. He often puts well-reasoned positions, and can make positive contributions to debates. But he is cocooned in a particular view of Bougainville’s history, one he shares with a small group of others, and which shapes all his views on Bougainville.

He is focused on what he sees as not only the single worst set of wrongs that has occurred in Bougainville – namely actions of Rio Tinto/BCL in the 1988-1990 period – but also the imperative to hold Rio Tinto/BCL to account for such wrongs. In his view, Rio Tinto/BCL can have no place in contemporary Bougainville without first being held to account. Should we Bougainvilleans (or the government Bougainvilleans elected to represent them) foolishly decide otherwise, he would seek to save us from our misguided course.

Yet his is at best a highly contested view not only of our complex history (despite his claims to the contrary), but also of the way the difficult and complex problems and issues we face should be dealt with. But it is clearly very much his particular analysis that informs the ‘historical’ account in the Jubilee report, at pp.7 to 16.

Contributions by Lasslett to ongoing debates can be found on the PNG Mine Watch Blog (above), the PNG Exposed Blog (http://pngexposed.wordpress.com/tag/bougainville/) Bougainville Forum, (https://www.facebook.com/index.php#!/groups/bougainvilleforum/), the ‘closed’ Facebook group, Mind, Body and Spirit Bougainville (see https://www.facebook.com/groups/mbsbougainville/).

While his ability to understand contemporary Bougainville is severely restricted by the position he takes on Rio Tinto/BCL, Lasslett often presents his position reasonably. There are, however, a few instances where he too makes unsubstantiated and false allegations. One example involves those made in an April 2013 article rejected by Crikey, after the editor was advised that a number of false allegations against ABG advisers made in the article were defamatory. Much the same allegations had been made to SBS television a few days earlier, but the story was not taken up when the lack of factual basis was explained to SBS. A version of the article rejected by Crikey, with a few of the most baseless allegations modified, was published a few days later by New Matilda (though it still made baseless allegations against ABG advisers (see https://newmatilda.com/2013/04/23/ausaid-fuels-bougainville-mining-tensions). Unlike Crikey, the New Matilda editor at the time failed to provide any pre-publication opportunity to refute the allegations made. It’s interesting that remarkably similar allegations are amongst those regularly made in the anonymous attacks on the ABG in the PNG Mine Watch and PNG Exposed Blogs.

Perhaps the most serious issue here is not so much the ongoing grossly unfair campaign against the ABG, but more that those involved (Lasslett, BRG, the moderators of PNG Mine Watch Blog, the anonymous author(s) of the attacks on the Blog, etc.) have never put any of their allegations to me, the ABG or the advisers that they are attacking. They never check the facts, which seem to be phenomena irrelevant to their purpose.

Let me be clear: there has been absolutely no contact with me, the ABG, nor the relevant ABG advisers by not only Lasslett, but also the anonymous attackers on the BRG website, and those administering the BRG Blog. Is this really the track record of ‘professional organisations’?

A Skewed Historical Account

The historical account advanced in the report, pp.8-16, is highly selective and unbalanced, and in parts quite incorrect, often reflecting the BRG and Lasslett view of Bougainville. Amongst many problems in that account, I mention just a few.

The claim is made that the New Panguna Landowner Association executive elected in 1987 ‘opposed the mine’ (p.9), and that the BRA demanded ‘the mine’s permanent closure’ (p.10), and that any view to the contrary – such as those advanced by me in a 2010 speech ‘contradict the archival material on Ona’s position with respect to the mine’ (p.14). As a person who attended the 1987 meeting where the new executive was elected, who remained in communication with the new executive for a considerable period thereafter, and who personally discussed with Francis Ona his views about the future of the mine as late as June 1997, I assure you from my personal knowledge that the report’s assertions on this issue are quite wrong. If Lasslett had ever troubled to interview me, I could have provided him with personal, as opposed to archival, evidence about Ona’s views, and advised him of the names of key ‘founders’ of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, and others, whom I am confident would substantiate my views in this regard.

The claims on pages 10 to 11 concerning BCL’s roles in the early period of the conflict are a muted version of claims Lasslett advances elsewhere. I can state from my personal knowledge as a Cabinet minister at the time, that in many respects his view of what happened is quite unbalanced. To give just one example, the report talks of BCL’s request for police mobile squad units being made on 26 November (p.9), failing to mention that the North Solons Provincial Government also made that request, and that the National Government strongly supported the request, and had its own strong reasons for doing so. Neither government was in any way bowing to pressure from BCL.

There are many other factual errors in the relevant pages, as well as in other parts of the report. Some of the major ones are mentioned elsewhere in this letter. But there are many more.

Using the Historical Account to Substantiate Baseless ‘Research Findings’

Perhaps the greater concern about the skewed historical account is what is perhaps best described as a ‘sly’ approach to using it to provide some substance to otherwise baseless allegations attributed to interviewees in the latter part of the report.

For example, it’s reported that the ‘majority of interviewees (49 out of 53) expressed dissatisfaction with what they saw as the illegitimate role of Australia (though AusAID) in the peacebuilding and consultation processes … There was strong disapproval of the perceived interference of the Austrian Government or AusAID in both the past and present of Bougainville’ (p.37). No indication is provided in the report’s discussion of what interviewees said constituted the ‘illegitimate role’ or the ‘perceived interference’. In the absence of such material, the reader would expect to look to the earlier historical account. And there it is, in the discussion of ‘The Consultation Process’ (about the future of mining): ‘The Australian government has assisted UPMALA and the ABG through the provision of advisors, paid for out of Australia’s foreign aid budget, for the development of a new mining bill, and in the process of community consultations surrounding the mine’ (p.16).

Of course, this fits so neatly with the endless allegations about the role of Australia and of Australian advisers in Bougainville advanced by Lasslett and the anonymous contributors to the Mine Watch Blog that it seems most unlikely that there is no connection here. To my mind, this reflects bias.

Yet the notion that provision of advisers, in accordance with ABG requests, is in fact ‘illegitimate’ or constitutes ‘interference’, must be challenged. There is a deep paternalism – even racism – involved. It is clear that those who constantly advance such views assume that Australian funded advisers necessarily act only in the interests of Australia, and are somehow (in a manner never defined) readily able to bend the ABG to their wills. That advisers could be provided without being controlled by or answerable to Australia, or that they could be professional and independent, and might act only in accordance with ABG direction, is clearly inconceivable to Lasslett and the BRG. Lasslett, also exhibits a ‘holier than thou’ attitude in his criticisms of advisers, regularly reporting how much he is opposed to those in the pay of foreign, working as consultants, all of whom are tainted in his purist view of the world. It is his particular, somewhat warped, and certainly biased, view of Bougainville that has clearly influenced the content of the Jubilee report.

Inaccuracies Advanced as ‘Research Findings’, Without Qualification

Many positions on issues claimed in the report as advanced by interviewees are grossly inaccurate. The report advances them without qualification, implying that they are in fact accurate. The result is presentation of a seriously flawed picture. Moreover, the material derived from interviews is presented under the general heading of ‘Research Findings’, a term that seems intended to convey substance in what is discussed.

In the interests of shortening this letter, I’ll provide examples from just the first three pages of the 25 pages of ‘Research Findings’ (pp.20-45). However, similar problems exist with many of the following pages:

 Apparently summarising views expressed in interviews, the report claims that (at the time the Panguna mine was being established) ‘the introduction of ‘land titles’ and individual male ‘land title owners’ who later formed the old landowners association (PLA), was denounced by some interviewees’ (p.20). That is a profoundly inaccurate picture of what in fact occurred. From 1969 to 1974, the Land Titles Commission (LTC) held public hearings in relation to each piece of customary land within mine related tenements or leases. This exercise did not involve ‘introduction of land titles’. Rather, the LTC files for the period show clearly that, on the basis of the evidence presented at each public hearing, the LTC determined: the boundaries of the piece of land in question; which clan lineage, descended from a named ancestor, owned that land; and the member of the lineage who should be recognised as the ‘customary head’ of the lineage (for the purposes of receiving and distributing rents, compensation and royalties, payable in respect of the land). ‘Customary heads’ were not all males – many were females. As males are members, together with their mothers, aunts and sisters (and sister’s children), of matrilineal clan lineages, it was often in order for a male to be recorded as ‘customary head’. At some point, and for reasons that are not yet clear, the term ‘title holder’ became used instead of ‘customary head’. While use of the former term may have contributed to some confusion about ‘titles’, it introduction of land titles was not involved.

 An interviewee is recorded as saying: ‘Another big issue was to do with the title holders …our leaders gave the land to their children while it should have been given to the women’ (p.20). This too is incorrect. LTC files show that when a ‘customary head’ died (something that occurred as early as 1970 in relation to a few pieces of land previously dealt with in early LTC hearings), fresh LTC hearings were held, and a new ‘customary head’ was appointed. In a few instances, a child of a deceased ‘customary head’ (and so not a member of the deceased person’s clan) was designated as the new ‘customary head’. But this occurred only where the LTC had received satisfactory evidence that the appropriate customary arrangements had been made between the clan lineages concerned, before the death of the ‘customary head’ – for example, kirinula in the case of Nasioi landowning clan lineages.

 An interviewee is recorded as saying: ‘There was this problem with BCL using other people to sign on behalf of the true landowners’ (p.20). In fact, BCL played no role in the processes for determining boundaries, ownership and ‘customary heads’ of land. That was all handled by the colonial administration (to 1975), mainly through the LTC and the kiaps. BCL was required, by law, to make payments to those identified by the LTC as ‘customary heads’. It is true that there were disputes about whether a few of the ‘customary heads’ were really entitled to be designated as such, but such problems were not the fault of BCL.

 Experience of the period of mine operation was ‘a negative one’, with only one respondent suggesting any positives (p.21). Many in the mine-affected communities are clear that while there were many major negatives for many there were also at least as few important positives, many mentioning BCL’s training.

 An interviewee is recorded as saying: ‘Only those who had landowner titles were getting benefits’ (p.22). That is completely incorrect. ‘Customary heads’ recognised by the LTC were expected to distribute rents, compensation and royalties to members of the lineage. In the absence of not only genealogies (or social mapping), but also clear customary principles for distribution of money from such sources, problems did occur in some cases. But in many cases, ‘customary heads’ were regarded by clan lineage members as doing a good job.

Clearly, no attempt was made by those overseeing preparation of the report to sift inaccurate opinions from ones based on fact.

A partial explanation for the presence of such inaccuracy may be provided in footnote 104 (p.20). It states that interviewees ‘were specifically asked to talk about their ancestors’ general living conditions during the mine’, and that those interviewees not born at the time in question ‘answered these questions based on personal knowledge of what they had heard from other community and family members’. Because views of such younger interviewees ‘cohered with what other, older participants …recalled’, the report records that the analysis does not separate answers of youth from those of adults and elders.

This explanation suggests, however, little interest in accuracy. Interviewees have been ‘specifically asked’ to talk of things of which they have no personal knowledge. The fact that those views ‘cohere’ with views of older people does not improve accuracy.

The real concern is that this lack of accuracy is not acknowledged in any way in the report. Perhaps those involved might seek to justify such inaccuracy on the basis that the report merely records views. But when those views are advanced as representing the views of the ‘mine-affected community’, then advancing them without qualification carries significant implications.

The reasons for failure to qualify inaccuracies need to be considered. For example, reasons could include poor knowledge of the subject matter by those overseeing production of the report, or perhaps bias on their part or that of the researchers (a not unreasonable conclusion given the significant evidence of bias already discussed). Perhaps those involved might be able to suggest some other explanation.

In conclusion

It troubles me that, beyond a very narrow spectrum of issues, filtered through a particular view of what happened in 1988-90, Jubilee and its collaborators appear to have such little understanding of, or interest in, the complexity and difficulty of the current situation we face in post-conflict Bougainville. Yes, the concerns and fears of the interviewees presented in the report are present amongst Bougainvilleans, and yes, there are a few for whom such views are dominant. But most of us hold far more complex and nuanced views that we bring to bear in trying to weigh the still rather limited options that face us as we try to find a sustainable road to development, to highest autonomy, and possibly to independence.

In the fragile situation we are dealing with, advancing the views recorded in this report as truly representing the views of Bougainville’s ‘mine-affected communities’ – as this report does – is misleading, divisive and destructive.

I can only repeat what I said in concluding my earlier letter: The Jubilee Report is deeply flawed. Jubilee Australia’s Board bears responsibility for allowing such a misleading and irresponsible document to be released, and for limiting and redressing the damage it can cause.

In addition, however, I call on Jubilee to withdraw this defective document.

Yours sincerely,

Chief Dr. John L. Momis

President

Autonomous Region of Bougainville

Contact: Anthony Kaybing

Media Director

Dept. of President & BEC

Email: anthony.kaybing@gmail.com

Phone: +675-70259926

Bougainville Investment News: Update Nevis Announces Investment in Bougainville Development, LLC

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PRESS RELEASE : Nevis Announces Investment in Bougainville Development, LLC
Jul 21, 2014
OTC Disclosure & News Service Lake Kiowa, TX –

Nevis Capital Corporation (OTC: OCEE), is pleased to announce that they have signed a final agreement with Bougainville Development, LLC, a Mississippi Limited Liability Company, to acquire a 50% ownership of Bougainville Development in an all-stock transaction consisting of Nevis common stock.

The principal asset of Bougainville is a wholly owned subsidiary, Tall J(PNG) Ltd. of Papua, New Guinea, that has the contractual rights with the Papua Government to harvest the timber and to explore and develop the underlying minerals on 255,000 acres in Section 1645. Bougainville has a current investment in excess of $ 4,000,000 USD in this project.
Mr. Stephen Strauss, BD Director, estimates that production should commence within 12-15 months for delivery of finished materials to Asian markets. Surveys from ITTO estimate that this tract contains approximately 2.5 million cubic meters of timber valued at $ 1.3 Billion at current prices, generating estimated revenues of $ 37 Million annually over a 35 year production and reforestation cycle.
The Papua Government has endorsed the economic growth and development of their natural resources. Exxon Mobil has recently invested $ 19 Billion in Papua, NG, building one of the largest Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) projects in the world which began shipments in May with anticipated annual revenues of $ 7.2 billion.
Nevis Capital expects the operational profits from this investment, the previously announced US producing oil and gas investment and expansions thereof, the Macau Live Online Gaming investment, and initiatives to acquire interests in profitable Medical Marijuana ancillary product producers to rapidly increase shareholder value for this development stage holding company.

New Dawn report June 2014

President of Bougainville, Chief John L. Momis, today challenged “Me’ekamui Government’s” Philip Miriori to be honest about Bougainville mining issues. He was responding to a statement saying discussions about mining can happen only after the referendum on independence, and calling for Australian advisers to “go home”.

President Momis said:

“It’s amusing to see Mr. Miriori say mining can happen only after the referendum. For it’s widely known in Bougainville just how deeply involved Miriori is already involved in mining. It was he who worked closely with the Americans involved in Tall J Foundation Ltd. That company tried to do industrial mining of gold on the tailings on the Jaba River. But the people chased them away. Then a Chinese investor in Tall J. Tried to get his lost money back by bringing in Chinese to gather and sell scrap metal from Panguna. Then there is the Australian, Ian Renzie Duncan, at different times involved with Australian mining companies Zeus Resources and Trnaspacific Ventures. It was he who wrote Mr. Miriori’s speech delivered when Prime Minister O’Neill visited Panguna. It’s widely talked about in central Bougainville that Miriori is investing with Mr. Duncan, and that Duncan is taking alluvial gold supplied by Miriori.

“These are just a few of the mining interests that Mr. Miriori is involved in. It’s these and other mining interests that have take him off so regularly to meetings in Cairns, Brisbane, Perth, Singapore, and other business tourist destinations. Everyone around Panguna knows one thing for sure: no other Me’ekamui President has done more foreign travel than Miriori!

“But with all his deep involvement in mining already, how can he talk about decisions on mining waiting until after the referendum? I challenge him to be honest about his long history of mining interests.

“I also challenge him to be equally honest about foreign advisers. He says Australian funded advisers are not welcome. But these advisers have all been requested by the ABG to help us fill in gaps and weaknesses in the Administration. Although Australian funded, many are not Australian. They include Bougainvilleans. Until recently our legislative drafting adviser was from Vanuatu. Our Policy Adviser was from Bermuda – all paid for By Australia.

“For the ABG, the two most important things about our advisers are these. First, we only have them when we have a gap we cannot fill with a Bougainvillean. Second, they must follow the directions of the Bougainville Government. I am absolutely confident that they do  that. They do not control the ABG. They are not here to make money for foreign companies.

“I challenge Mr. Miriori to tell us about his foreign advisers, and what they are doing to make money for foreign interests. They included two Americans with the Tall J Foundation, Stewart Sytner and Thomas Megas. There are documents freely available on the Internet that show they claim that Mr. Miriori sold them mining rights in areas to the north of the Panguna Special Mining Lease. I challenge him to tell us is what Sytner and Megas claim is true.

What about the other investors in Tall J? What advice did they give to Miriori? What about the Tall J investor who brought in the Chinese scrap metal dealers? What advice did he give? What about the advice that Mr. Ian Renzie Duncan gives?

“Mr. Miriori is not being honest about the future of mining. His hands are not clean in relation to mining.

“Mr. Miriori is not being honest about foreign advisers. Again his hands are not clean.

“I challenge him to be honest on these matters. I challenge him to enter these debates only when he has clean hands.

Tall J, O’orang & MTRL alluvial mining in the Tumpusiong Valley

Leonard Fong Roka Feb 2013

As way back as 2008, an Edwin Moses from Sireronsi village and an Amos Ove from Kongara were in an underground contact with Americans, Steve Strauss and Mike Holbrooke. Their dialogue was an interest to tap into the lucrative alluvial gold panning in Central Bougainville.

Jaba Industries company logo

Then they connected the Americans and their company Tall J whom were said to be specialized in small scale mining to the so called Meekamui Government of Panguna led by Philip Miriori (president) and Philip Takaung (vice president) a pair that, when talking about BCL to the media had being so anti-mining.

In early 2009, Edwin Moses, Amos Ove and Philip Takaung formed their own company under the blessing of the Meekamui Government which they named O’orang with all executives from their respective villages and Amos Ove as the manager and Edwin Moses as director to start formal negotiations with the Americans.

Tumpusiong Valley sedimentattion that hosts the gold

After O’orang was established, Tall J money began entering Bougainville. O’orang was assigned to lay out the ground work for possible mining operations in Panguna, especially the Tumpusiong Valley where Amos Ove was married. The valley had tones of gold washed from the Panguna mine’s long operations and today it is one of the main alluvial gold attractions in Kieta. The company’s attempts to lure the targeted people were often met with opposition but the report that went to America was of positive progress.

So back in America, there was excitement to have established a link on one of Pacific’s richest islands and their landowners, from debriefs O’orang passed on from Bougainville. Thus money flowed in and O’orang members earned American money and drove around in new vehicles.

In mid-2009, the Americans and O’orang met in Honiara to finalize a go-ahead for a joint venture on establishing an alluvial gold mining operation in Panguna. A week later, a team of nine Americans arrived in Panguna with a Komatsu front-hand loader and three other equipment for sampling and other preparations under the leadership of Steve Strauss to learn that nothing had being done out of their money.

Jaba Industries operations site in the Tumpusiong Valley

Spending months in Panguna, with Philip Takaung also renting rooms to them, they tried to sort things out themselves. Half of the Americans returned seeing that their money was wasted on liars that the people hardly respected. Even Amos Ove was making his own money by having the mechanical loader on hire after they were chased out of the Tumpusiong Valley in their first attempt. But the other half stayed on under the leadership of Steve Strauss and Mike Holbrooke.

With the Americans around them and Amos Ove gone due to illness, Philip Takaung and Edwin Moses began to fast track negotiations with various people around Kieta. They visited the Eivo area; went into certain parts of Kokoda; frisked the whole Panguna valley for partners, especially the Tumpusiong Valley. They entered Kupe, where an Australian company once had a gold mining operation in the 1930s, three times and on the fourth visit, angry Kupe people chased them.

By Christmas 2009, all Americans left accept Strauss who was so concerned in finding ways to recover the money they had spent. By early 2010, the Americans had spent some K1.7 million through O’orang in order to secure alluvial gold mining operations with the people.

Mr. Michael Tona, MTRL deputy chairman

As the year was fast winding down Strauss saw no hope and was packing to leave Bougainville when a Michael Dendai and Michael Tona who were not involve in Tall J first attempts in the Tumpusiong Valley walked into him in Panguna with a claim that they and their families owned much of the west Tumpusiong Valley tailings area.

Strauss was relieved and forged an agreement with the pair and also donated an open bag land cruiser to serve the Tumpusiong communities that was controlled by Michael Dendai since.

In a series of meetings held at Panguna within a period of two months, a new company, Middle Tailings Resources Limited (MTRL) led by Michael Dendai and Michael Tona was born. O’orang also fought hard not to be left out in this new relationship and was accepted and Strauss again fought to secure more off shore funding for this new operation.

Closer look at the camp in the middle of the BCL created barren land

This time funding was secured from a Chinese partner and more Americans began to arrive to pave the way forward for the Tumpusiong project. And seeing the Chinese money on their hands Dendai and Tona carelessly fast tracked the go-ahead of the project without engaging the majority of the west Tumpusiong community members in decision making. But still the project was steaming on with the happy MTRL gang.

So the joint venture named as the Jaba Industries was consisting of O’orang owning 33.33% shares; MTRL owning another 33.33% and Tall J holding the last 33.33% of shares. In all three joint venture partners, the unidentified Chinese financier was catered for; that is, the Chinese were shareholders in all three companies. At the same time, Tall J had certain percentage of shares in the 33.33% shares owned by O’orang in Jaba Industries concerning the K1.7 million Tall J money O’orang corrupted.

All things sorted, equipment and plants, funded by the Chinese, began arriving one at a time for the whole of 2011 and half of 2012; plants were kept at Birempa on the Morgan-Panguna mine access road near Edwin Moses’ home. Plants include dump trucks, an excavator, a front-hand loader, a number of open bag land cruisers and gold processing equipment. And during the Christmas break of 2012, establishment began at Toku village in the western section of the Tumpusiong Valley.

With heavy sedimentation intact, the project could last

Alongside the development conflict also surfaced. The locals were brawling with the MTRL executives over decision making processes as landowners witnessing the fact that Michael Dendai was running the MTRL as his private business because on paper, collective decision making was the way and that majority beneficiaries should have being the community.

Also despite the fact that the men involved with the creation of MTRL were the close relatives of current ABG mining mister, Michael Oni, the parliamentarian have being said to knew nothing of this development. So people also public condemned MTRL and Jaba Industries as illegal businesses.

The main village of Toku further boiled with strikes. In a launching and dedication ceremony held in December 2012 just before Christmas at the mining site, the other half of the Toku villagers did not attend nor did they ate the food that was brought to them.

Furthermore, the locals were angered by the project when, all executive positions in the joint venture was held by the O’orang who were not even landowners in the Panguna mine site or the Tumpusiong Valley but were from the inaccessible by car hinterland villages of Pangka and Mosinau to the south-east of the Panguna mine who now squat in the remains of the Panguna township causing a lot of disharmony with the people owning the Panguna mine and town areas like the Moroni people and even the Panguna District administration.

Tumpusiong Valley

Most of the Tumpusiong men were employed as security guards earning a K75 per fortnight. Plant operators and so on were the O’orang employees. And point of argument was, to the former BRA fighters, Mr. Dendai was not at home during the conflict and now was walking over them thus he was not accepted to be a sole decision maker in this project.

Somewhere in late 2012, the Chinese partner under the cover of Jaba Industries announced that it shall be releasing a K300 000 community development packet and two vehicles for the Tumpusiong Valley around the 2012 Christmas period. The people waited as they watched the test-run of the operations that produced a positive result in a week’s operation in January 2013 that was shipped overseas as a sample.

But to their dissatisfaction in the mid-January of 2013, a new accusation surfaced that the awaited K300 000 development packet was already deposited into Michael Dendai’s bank account in 2012. Without any hesitation, the villagers torched the gold processing equipment in broad day light.

After this, all Tumpusiong men working as security guards at the mining site walked off, with a demand to Jaba Industries to solve the issue or pack up and leave.

Posted by Leonard Fong Roka at 18:10

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Bougainville NEWS: Environment group offers $9m for biodiversity projects

 
Solomon Island farmers
Photo: Solomon Islands has some of the best examples of biodiversity in the Pacific (Wade Fairley: Flickr)
An environmental group is offering $US9 million in grants to help non-government organisations fund projects in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea.
map_of_emi_1_141513

The International Union for Conservation of Nature says it wants to fund work that will protect biodiversity in the region.

The CEPF investment strategy for the East Melanesian Islands Hotspot has five strategic directions:

  1. Empower local communities to protect and manage globally significant biodiversity at priority key biodiversity areas underserved by current conservation efforts.
  2. Integrate biodiversity conservation into local land-use and development planning.
  3. Safeguard priority globally threatened species by addressing major threats and information gaps.
  4. Increase local, national and regional capacity to conserve biodiversity through catalyzing civil society partnerships.
  5. Provide strategic leadership and effective coordination of conservation investment through a regional implementation team

HOW TO APPLY LINK HERE

The IUCN’s Luisa Tagicakibau says there are countless habitats that need protecting and is calling for groups to submit proposals.

“These islands are highly biodiverse and hold exceptional cultural and linguistic diversity,” she told Pacific Beat.

“There are so many threats to these biodiversities, which are human induced and include increasing population, lack of awareness, unsustainable economic development.”

The IUCN is targeting 20 key biodiversity areas covering 1.5 million hectares.

“There are so many cultural and linguistic diversities at play in this region and because only a few people are speaking certain languages, they’re fast disappearing,” Ms Tagicakibau said.

“And that’s often leading to an increasing erosion of traditional knowledge and practices. These people are the real stewards of biodiversity.”

The money is being provided by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, which is a collaboration of seven different bodies including the European Union, the Japanese and French governments and the World Bank.

The IUCN says groups have until August 26 to submit proposals for funding.

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