ABG pushes mine talk

Business, Normal

The National, Monday March 17th, 2014

 THE decision to reopen the Panguna mine rests solely with the Panguna landowners.

Autonomous Bougainville Government President Chief Dr John Momis said it had always been wrongly perceived that the ABG had the sole power to reopen the mine.

Momis said this in his ministerial speech last Wednesday during the second day of the ABG House of Representatives’ first parliamentary sitting this year.

Momis said the ABG had established a framework to assist with the negotiations along with an organisation that could coordinate them.

“The Office of the Panguna Negotiations (OPN) is an entity set up by the ABG to enhance the achievements of its broad objectives in relation to the mine,” Momis said.

He said OPN has been set up as required by the Bougainville constitution and does not stand to marginalise anybody.

Since its creation by the Bougainville Executive Council in 2012 as a government entity, OPN has developed several important policy submissions and information papers for the consideration of the executive government, which is the ABG, Momis said.

It has also been instrumental in securing from the ABG the K5 million per year for five years support grant for the negotiations.

OPN has also been responsible for facilitating the BelKol between landowners and Bougainville Copper Ltd (BC).

Momis said the entity had also been responsible for the widespread mining consultative forums, which gathered the opinions of Bougainvilleans on the issue of reopening the mine.

“From these forums, there had been wide support of the ABG’s initiative to negotiate an understandable settlement,” Momis said.

Some of the major challenges facing OPN were the ever-changing positions of key mine- affected Landowners, who backtracked after supporting the ABG during the forums.

Momis said the ABG and the majority could not be held ransom by a minority, who must make up their minds.

He said while Panguna was still the ABG’s focus, it was not the option but rather one of the options available to the government.