Right now there is no opposition within the ABG to allow for healthy debate on issues affecting Bougainvilleans.
This was one of the concerns raised by Chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Inc, Philip Miriori, on the approval given to Bougainville Copper Limited to operate on Bougainville.
“We didn’t know BCL was secretly talking with the ABG. We were caught off guard when the President did a reshuffle and word got out that BCL would be making a re-entry.”
The SMLO association is one of 9 mining landowner associations on Bougainville. It happens to be the main one directly associated with the Panguna Open pit mine while the other eight are further downstream.
Miriori told Loop PNG that he has taken over where the late Francis Ona left off. He has a hard-liner stance of not allowing BCL back on Bougainville.
“We can’t let the same evil back in again, we’ve already come this far. I’m taking this bold stance because no leader is standing up for our rights,” said Miriori.
The landowner group has been in talks with an alternative miner Australian-based mining conglomerate, RTG Mining, to form Central Me'ekamui Exploration Ltd.
“RTG is more sustainable then BCL. It is technically more advanced, has an environmentally friendly waste management system and has a social licence to work with the community,” expressed Miriori.
Meantime, the parties to the proposed memorandum of agreement for the redevelopment of the Panguna Mine, between the Autonomous Bougainville Government and Panguna Mine Landowner Association, were restrained from signing that agreement following a blockade by Panguna landowner women and community leaders in June this year.