The Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA) said as evidenced by the recent warden’s hearing, the landowners for the first time were given the opportunity to speak their mind.
“The hearing clearly showed that BCL does not have the support of the community at large, even after a two-year exploration licence and a further period of nearly 18 months were given,” said SMLOA chairman Philip Miriori.
“We feel the ABG has been more than fair to BCL. However, BCL have not even taken responsibility for the past or offered us any compensation, just lots of broken promises.
“The professionalism of the hearing has brought much hope to our people, where many feel they were being listened to for the first time.”
Miriori acknowledged President John Momis for his prompt response to the warden’s hearing, making the result known on a timely basis to allow for all landowners to come up with a new proposal.
The opposition to BCL was on many fronts.
Repeatedly outlined by members, they include:
- Legacy issues – both environmental and social impacts
- BCL not offering compensation for legacy issues
- The insurmountable liabilities that arise directly from these legacy issues
- Legal advice that the BCL 2 year exploration licence actually expired 15 months ago on 7th September 2016 but LOs allowed the warden’s hearing process to continue
- The decade long $6 billion BCL development plan
- The absence of any meaningful community assistance over the 30 years, in particular over the 2-year term of the BCL exploration licence
Miriori said there is broad support within the Panguna community to re-establish the Panguna mine as most understand that Bougainville requires economic development urgently.
“We simply cannot continue to rely entirely on the PNG Government for handouts,” Miriori said.
“We have done a lot of work in the community over the last couple of years and despite the horrific past, we have been able to show the members that with the right people – people who respect both the environment and the importance of a social license, people with a track record we have seen for ourselves – the mine can be a success for everyone.”
Following the warden’s meeting last month, President Momis announced an indefinite moratorium on exploration and mining in Panguna.
He said the Bougainville Executive Council made a “thoughtful and considered” decision to impose an indefinite reservation moratorium in the best interest of the landowners and the people of Bougainville.
“The voice of the Panguna landowners was clearly heard during the mining warden hearing that decided in a narrow split between those supporting the mine reopening by Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) and the opponents,” said President Momis.
He stated that to develop the mine by any other developer would be “untenable” under current circumstances.