The National, Thursday February 13th, 2014
THE Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) has reinforced its commitment to support negotiations regarding the reopening of the Panguna mine.
ABG President Chief Dr John Momis (pictured) said this during the Panguna landowners meeting with the ABG and stakeholders in Buka town yesterday.
The reinforcement stems from the K5 million per year allocation for 2014 and 2015, along with a K350,000 in infrastructure support for the landowner associations.
A major concern by the ABG was the divisive behaviour of minority landowners who were pursuing their own political and financial agenda.
Momis said these minority owners risked destroying the positive partnership that landowners and the ABG had created and undermine the preparations for negotiations with the national government in resolving outstanding issues.
Momis said the success of these negotiations was threatened by outsiders in alliance with the disruptive leaders or armed factions in pursuing their own financial interests.
Another concern of the ABG was the large amounts of compensation claims which Momis said would only happen if the Panguna mine became a profitable project that would allow restoration and compensation to occur.
“Bearing all this in mind, the ABG must be careful it does not rely solely on Panguna as its source of revenue for autonomy or independence, even if the timeframe for referendum might encourage it to do so,” he said.
Momis said he had instructed the Bougainville Administration to actively pursue other viable opportunities that existed and capitalised on Bougainville’s mineral resources.
The behaviour of these minority leaders and outsiders and the unreasonable demands for compensation would make Panguna unviable.
This could prompt the ABG to have an alternate source of revenue that Bougainville needed for restoration and development to accommodate the people’s desire to remain an autonomous region and to move forward towards independence.
Momis said once Bougainville had its own mining legislation, it would have the power to selectively open potential geographical areas for exploration.
“Where the landowners have indicated their support for development, the ABG intends to grant exploration licences to reputable mining companies in partnership with landowner associations,” he added.
Momis stressed the ABG’s commitment to achieving a positive outcome for the landowners and called on them to work closely with the ABG.