MAC: Mines and Communities

Australia warned to stay out of Bougainville affairs

Published by MAC on 2013-03-05
Source: The National (PNG), Radio NZ, PNG Exposed

President makes new promises to landowners

Last month, two Bougainville civil society  leaders (Sam Kaona and Simon Ekeda) warned against increased Australian meddling in the island's internal affairs, principally referring to Rio Tinto.

The UK-listed company's Australian subsidiary, CRA, was in control of the Panguna mine until the start of the 1988 "revolution" which forced the company out the following year.  Rio Tinto's Bougainville Copper Ltd. has been making numerous attempts to return to the country over the last few years.

A few days later, John Momis, president of the Autonomous Bougainville government (ABG)  responded to these claims, saying: "Minerals will no longer be owned by the State. Instead they will be owned by both customary landowners and the ABG".

Added Momis: "Landowners will have the right to say 'no' to exploration and to be fully involved in all decisions on mining projects."

It remains to be seen whether the president's promises will translate into law - and if so how quickly.

Readers wanting to refresh themselves on the roots of the Bougainville conflict
can turn to the following website:

Aust warned to stay out of B'ville affairs

The National (PNG)

27 February 2013

FORMER Bougainville Revolutionary Army commander Sam Kaona has warned Australia not to meddle in Bougainville affairs.

He said the first policy draft on mining in Bougainville was no different from the colonial policy that caused the crisis.

"The Australians have taken control of mining policy in Buka and the first policy draft by ABG legal unit headed by Tony Regan is no different from the previous policy," Kaona, who is chairman of the recently formed Bougainville Resources Owners Representative Council, said.

He added that the proposed policy, sponsored by AusAID and drafted by Regan, risked Bougainville's first constitutional crisis.

"Since the constitution is the supreme law of Bougainville, section 23 of the Bougainville constitution, which restores ownership of resources on Bougainville to the customary landowners, is the only option that is constitutionally legal.

"So any attempt to impose any other resource ownership system would be invalid and ineffective - they are risking a constitutional crisis."

Resources rights activist Simon Ekanda shared similar sentiments. "Bougainville mining policy does not belong to Regan, BCL (Bougainville Copper Ltd) or the Australians, it belongs to the resource owners and the people of Bougainville.

"This is to be a Bougainville mining policy written by Bougainvilleans in Bougainville for the Bougainville resource owners and people.

"Section 23 of the Bougainville constitution returning the resource ownership to the customary landowners is to be the foundation of that policy.

"Let me be absolutely clear - there will be no compromise on this.

"The Panguna landowners must determine that their interests will be best served by securing a special mining lease over their resource and then to entertain qualified mining companies with the view to putting Panguna back into production."

He also cautioned ABG President John Momis to be careful with the new mining policy.

"Both PNG and Bougainvilleans have died and it is unwise if Momis allows colonial administrators to rewrite Bougainville mining laws."

Resource owners adamant to have input in PNG's Panguna plans

Radio NZ

28 February, 2013

A representative of resource owners in the Panguna region of Papua New Guinea's Bougainville says they want to ensure they have control of the province's new mining policy.

The deputy head of the Bougainville Resource Owners Representative Council, Chris Damana, says this week's forum in Buka is invaluable for airing concerns about a possible re-opening of the huge moth-balled mine.

He says they have been critical of Canberra's apparent involvement in drawing up the province's new mining policy which he says brings back memories of what happened more than 40 years ago when the controversial mine was started.

But Mr Damana says the resource owners have been assured it is only a draft and they will have input.

"We, the resource's owners are trying to take some control on this. I mean we want to make this mining policy as ours, because it will bless us or it will affect us in the future."

Referendum: A natural progression for Bougainville after the crisis

Claire of Act Now!

PNG Mine Watch

5 March 2013

After being marginalized and polluted both socially and environmentally for so long, Bougainvilleans decided enough was enough. They rose and fought. There were casualties from all sides. The PNG Defense Force lost many good men who fought for what they believed was right for PNG. The Resistance and Bougainville Revolutionary Army, brothers that fought against each other and went to the extent of killing a brother for what each believed was for the good of his people. The women and children had their lives turned upside down and witnessed many atrocities that even to this day many will not speak of what they experienced.

The only ones that I can't for the life of me see as having lost anything other than money is Rio Tinto and Bougainville Copper Limited. These two monster alien corporations were powerful enough to influence the government of the day, who directed the PNGDF to go into Bougainville and placate the ‘rebels' using whatever force they thought necessary.

Funny how the people that have the soil of this land called Bougainville running through their veins and have fertilized the soil in this land with their blood - are called ‘rebels'! The irony of being from a place and having outsiders have the power to try to discipline you! These two monster's Rio Tinto and BCL together tried to intimidate, kill and (the term used in the SBS Dateline Report is) ‘starve out' Bougainvilleans from the land that they spent the past 40 000 years on, toiling and forming a relationship with. Rio Tinto and BCL thought that Bougainvilleans would bend, fall and scatter. But they didn't count on the land, whose side would the land be on? Of course the land gave, protected and nurtured the people that had had a relationship with her for thou sands of years.

So instead Bougainvilleans rose, perseverred and fought until they had almost nothing left. But the land together with their ingenuity made sure that the people of Bougainville survived. Then they won that part of the battle.

The next part of the battle is weeding out the lies and the deception so that the truth can shine a beacon of light on the correct path to take.

It won't be an easy journey and there are many forks on the road. But the most important thing is that whatever path Bougainvilleans decide to take - it will be for the better of not now but for the better of tomorrow and that it is a path that is dictated by the people of Bougainville for the people of Bougainville.

Many Bougainvilleans will greet the below story from the Post Courier with happiness. Referendum is a beacon of hope, what many would assume is the natural progression after the crisis.

Momis: Referendum to be held

By Winterford Toreas

Post Courier

4 March 2013

BOUGAINVILLE will still be having the referendum to decide its political future as stipulated under the Bougainville Peace Agreement (BPA), that's the assurance from the ABG President Chief Dr John Momis.

Speaking during the official opening of the Second Regional Forum on Panguna Negotiations held in Buka early this week, Mr Momis said the referendum process would still take place, even if Bougainville did not fully achieve the three pillars stipulated under the Bougainville Constitution.

The Bougainville Constitution stipulates that the three pillars that need to be addressed before referendum can take place include weapons disposal, fiscal self-reliance and good governance.

"If we do not remove the weapons, we are not self-reliance, and if we do not achieve good governance...referendum will happen," Mr Momis said.

The president said the onus was now on Bougainvilleans to prepare and achieve the identified outcomes that would enable the referendum process to take. He said it was important for Bougainvilleans to grasp this unique opportunity which had come about following amendments being done on the PNG Constitutions.

This amendment was made to allow Bougainville to have the referendum between 10-15 years following the establishment of the ABG.

Mr Momis then stressed that failure to achieve the referendum would bring great shame on Bougainvilleans, not only in the eyes of PNG but the rest of the world.

According to Section 191 Subsection (7) of the Bougainville Constitution, the referendum should take place not earlier than 10 years and not more than 15 years after the election of the first Bougainville Government.

Since the ABG was formed in 2005, by law the referendum should be held between 2015-2020.

This now means that Bougainville only has between two to seven years left before the referendum is held.

B'ville to strike it rich

Postcourier (PNG)

4 March 2013

THE autonomous Bougainville Government's mining policy will give mineral ownership to customary landowners.

The landowners will also be involved in major mining project decisions and can say ‘no' to exploration on their land.

ABG President Chief John Momis said this at the weekend to counter what he says was ‘misleading statements' by former Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) rebel commander Sam Kauona, who recently alleged that the "colonial administration" was drafting the autonomous region's new mining policy.

"Mr Kauona should not think that an ABG led by me could ever ignore Bougainvillean concerns about mining. We will never be told what to do by an outsider," the veteran politician, who first entered politics in 1972, said in a statement.

The former BRA commander has in recent days criticised Australia over what he claimed was its involvement in the draft policy, however, Chief Momis in response said Bougainvilleans were playing leading roles in the ABG's mining department, the law and justice division and the Office of Panguna Negotiations.

"Many Bougainvillean officials are involved in our mining department, law and justice division and office of Panguna negotiations.

"They develop policy proposals to be considered by the ABG cabinet. We make our own decisions. Take issues of ownership of minerals.

"The administration presented three options. Cabinet discussed them over several long meetings. We decided to reject all three options. Instead we came up with our own. Minerals will no longer be owned by the State.

"Instead they will be owned by both customary landowners and the ABG," he said.
According to the ABG president, equitable distribution of revenue from mineral resources was at the core of his government's policies.

"As part owner, the ABG will act on behalf of all Bougainvilleans because of the blood shed by all Bougainville groups during the conflict. The ABG will also ensure equitable development and the use of mineral resources in the interests of both present and future generations. Landowners will have the right to say ‘no' to exploration and to be fully involved in all decisions on mining projects. The ABG will have the power to grant all exploration and other licenses and authorise mining revenue distribution."

The exchange between the former rebel commander and the ABG president adds to the debate on the island surrounding the closed Panguna copper mine and proposed plans to reopen it. Mr Kauona is reportedly the president of the Bougainville Resource Owners Representative Council.

Referendum needed to re-open PNG's Panguna mine, says Bougainville landowner

Radio NZ

26 February 2013

A landowner from the Panguna region in the autonomous Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville says a referendum would be needed before the green light is given to resume mining at Panguna.

The Bougainville government is holding the second of four planned community meetings to hear the people's views on whether the huge copper and gold mine can be re-opened.

In 1988, anger over alleged environmental damage and human rights abuses at Panguna sparked a civil war and closed the mine.

A former presidential candidate and a landowner at Panguna, Martin Miriori, says before any re-opening there would need to be compensation, reconcilation and awareness building, followed by a referendum.

"So that people can just vote on whether the mine should be opened or whether it should remain closed. And with that mandate from the people then, we can go ahead and, say, talk about reviewing the Bougainville Copper agreement, or a new agreement that needs to be negotiated."

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