Should Rio's Bougainville mine be re-opened?Published by MAC on 2011-04-04
Source: Statement, Post Courier, Island News, National (2011-04-05)
"No!" say landowners: report
Since early 2010 there's been a steady feed of "news" from the Papua New Guinea autonomous region of Bougainville purporting to show that landowner opposition to re-opening the mothballed Panguna copper-gold mine has all but disappeared.
But, one of those landowners, Clive Porabou recently toured the mine lease area, finding this was far from true.
At the very least, several important consultations must take place before Bougainville's pro-mining president, or Rio Tinto's Bougainville Copper subsidiary, can claim they have "the people" behind them.
One can also detect a slight note of reserve (if not doubt) creeping into the latest statement made by Bougainville's president, John Momis, in regard to any revival of mining (specifically the Panguna copper-gold mine) in the territory.
Previous articles on MAC: Rio Tinto's record on Bougainville is nothing to be proud of
Panguna Mine Dilemma
By Clive Porabou
29 March 2011
Paguna mine is still a very sensitive issue. There has been a lot of media coverage by the mainstream media and in the outside world it looks like it will re-open tomorrow. After so many one-sided media reports I went back to the ground to Mekamui/Bougainville to hear and see for myself if it will be re-opened soon.
|Panguna mine on Bougainville - Source: The National|
On my first day in Arawa, many people I talked to were all against re-opening the mine. The silent majority that has never been interviewed and talked to by the mainstream media and the ones, who carry the pain every time when those in the high places look down on them, are opposed to the mine re-opening.
I went to see the Meekamui General Chris Uma to ask him what his position on the issue is and he gave me the article that he gave to the Post Courier: "Rebel hits out against mine talks".
The next day I went to the checkpoint to interview the boys. I met an original Meekamui Government officer by the name of Bleise and he told me that this checkpoint would not be lifted, as we don't want the mine to re-open. When asked what will happen if the pro-mining landowners sign an agreement, will you guys lift the check point? "No, the checkpoint won't be lifted."
I asked one of the Meekamui soldiers, who have been offered jobs if the mine re-opens by BCL, what they think about taking the jobs? The soldier told me that jobs are not important. "We care for our land and future generations. Where will our children live if we destroy the land?"
Back in Arawa again the media comes out with a story that Meekamui hardliner Chris Uma met and talked with Bougainville Regional member Mr F Semoso and given green light for the re-opening of the mine.
I went early to Chris Uma's residence and met him. I asked him if that is the gospel truth, he told me yes he met F Semoso but didn't talk about the mine re-opening. That is one of the propaganda that the Government side is coming up with. He says he agreed to meet F Semoso so that he will know who Chris Uma is and where he stands.
A businessman in Arawa, who runs a guesthouse, while commenting on the issue says: "Mining is not the answer. It will bring more bloodshed on the Island if the pro mining landowners go ahead and sign any new agreement. I lost two sons in the war and no one pays me any compensation for their lives."
Commenting on the employment he says: "Only the people with papers and skills will have the jobs." He questions: "What about the widows and the unskilled? Agriculture should be encouraged, the widows and unskilled will have something to do and earn money when selling their produce."
I met three mothers later going home after a meeting with the intended candidates for central Bougainville in the PNG national Government for 2012. They told me that, as mothers who bear so much pain and lost their sons in the war, they don't want Panguna mine to re-open. When asked about employment and development they all say: "What kind of development and employment is that, if it will destroy our land?"
Bougainville is blessed with many riches, apart from gold and copper.
Landowners make peace over mining issues
By Gorethy Kenneth
28 March 2011
BOUGAINVILLE witnessed another milestone achievement last Friday - the reconciliation to end issues, differences and misunderstandings among landowners of the now defunct Panguna mine and the region's president John Momis.
President Momis and the Panguna landowners' association executives created a breakthrough in the history of the region and reconciled for the first time since the crisis.
The reconciliation ceremony between President Momis and the representatives of the six mine lease areas led by interim chairman Chris Damana and Lawrence Daveona paves the way for Bougainville's prosperity and easy access to negotiations of re-opening the Panguna Mine.
The ceremony was two-phased; a meeting at the Parliament's Executive Council room at Kubu with Momis and his Cabinet and later the reconciliation ceremony at the Bougainville Administration conference room in Buka. Head of the six mine lease areas took their seats.
Chris Damana as the interim PLA chairman, Theresa Jaintong as the interim chairperson of the Siokate lease which covers Arawa urban, Benedine Kira as spokesperson for the Lower Tailings, Scholastica Meuka led the Port Access Road Mine, Severinus including those of the Upper Tailings and the Special Mining Lease and Tarciscius Karuai of the Port Access Road Mine. Momis was happy to hold the hands with leaders again and shake hands. All present shed tears during the ceremony.
ABG vice president Patrick Nisira, at the forefront of this ceremony said he started working on the reconciliation plans since December 2010 and last Friday, he was proud to see the fruit of his work. Before the ceremony Nisira announced it would only be refreshments served and that there was no pig feast to celebrate.
"The size of the pig doesn't matter, the size of the occasion does," he said. This ceremony now paves way for us to further our negotiations on the re-opening of the Panguna mine."
Momis congratulated the leaders for coming together to negotiate the mine re-opening and other issues. He spoke of the wealth of experience Bougainville enjoys and has appealed for unity to move Bougainville forward.
Chris Damana who spoke on behalf of the landowners said he was a happy man as it singled out the way forward for the ABG and the people of Bougainville. He said the ceremony will now pave way for economic recovery on Bougainville. He appealed to the media to report the truth and be sensitive to the Panguna issues. He also challenged the landowners to take the reconciliation from their hearts and to work with ABG for prosperity on Bougainville.
Govt, ABG aim to sign agreement
By Gorethy Kennth
28 March 2011
THE National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government are aiming to sign the Panguna Mine Heads of Agreement by end of November 2011.
Bougainville Affairs and Trade Minister, also Regional MP Fidelis Semoso announce recently in Panguna and Arawa during his meetings with rebel hardliners that he plans to have responsible authorities sign the Panguna Heads of Agreement by November 2011.
ABG vice president Patrick Nisira also told the Post Courier it is possible to sign the HOA in November and if that is the plan by the National Government, ABG is in full support and would work together to implement it. Nisira was speaking at the reconciliation ceremony between ABG president John Momis and the representatives from the Panguna landowners in Buka last Friday.
The HOA is part of the four steps agreed during the recent Joint Supervisory Body (JSB) meeting, and is the last of the four to set the pace for the beginning of the review of the Bougainville Copper Agreement.
The steps include social mapping, environmental impact study, baseline survey and eventually the HOA.
"I want the Heads of Agreement by November 2011. By doing this, it basically means we can now begin the Bougainville Copper Agreement review," Mr Semoso said in Arawa.
"Basically the issue means that we will commence the review of the Bougainville Copper Agreement once the HOA is signed....the heads of agreement will decide...it's like a playing field. It will decide what is inside and what is outside.
"Bougainville, we are not like other provinces, Bougainville we have a time limit, we don't have the time anymore. We don't have time to waste.
"As the National Minister responsible I want to make sure we get the heads of agreement signed by November 2011.
"The National Government is fully committed and I want to see the HOA fully complied with.
"I believe all these things can be done in three months but only if the responsible authorities like the ABG, National Government and basically the PNG and Bougainville Mining Divisions work together to make this happen.
"I am sure if we all work together we can actually achieve this ... That's an issue I want to discuss with Ishmael (Toroama), Chris (Uma) and Moses Pipiro.
"I am now issuing a challenge to the ABG, and specifically the Department of Geohazard and Mining plus the Mining Division in Bougainville to progress the resolution.
"The onus is now on the technocrats with the drive from the responsible leadership.
"The people of Bougainville don't need an open ended negotiations. The process of the review is very important and the people need to be fully informed on what is happening. I am more concerned about the review and focus on when the first gold will be produced," he said.
ABG works on mining policy
5 April 2011
THE Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) is working towards developing its own mining policy, President John Momis has said.
Speaking at the close of a three-day workshop in Buka last week, Momis said the workshop had helped ministers and senior officers to reach common understanding on the aims of future mining and the main options for achieving those aims.
The workshop, which was attended by ABG ministers and senior Bougainville administration officials, focused on developing proposals for the ABG cabinet to consider in the next few weeks.
"I emphasise that the workshop did not make any final decisions on the future of mining. Instead, it was an important part of the process to help the ABG consider all options.
"When cabinet has considered those options, much more awareness and consultation will be needed," Momis said.
He added that the most important consultations would be with landowners of the six leases associated with the Panguna mine and wider consultation may occur through regional forums.
Momis said last week's workshop was an important step for the ABG in thinking about the choices that could be made about future mining in Bougainville.
He said ABG's possible aims for future mining included:
- Increased ABG revenue (both before mining begins and after it starts);
- Best possible mining practices in terms of environmental and social impacts; and
- Broad-based economic development ensuring maximum opportunities for the people of Bougainville.
"There are many possible ways of pursuing those aims.
"Re-opening the Panguna mine is one, but we will need to decide whether we put all efforts in that direction. We can also consider development of, perhaps, one or two other mines in Bougainville and another possibility is to help small-scale Bougainville miners to increase their productivity," the president said.
He also called on all Bougainville leaders to work with the government towards achieving a common approach on future mining.
"Only the ABG has the legal authority and responsibility to represent and work with all Bougainvillean interests towards achieving outcomes that ensure maximum benefit for Bougainville.
"There will be no negotiations with the national government or BCL or any other major mining company unless the ABG decides to negotiate," Momis said.