by Fabian Hakalits – EM TV News, Buka
Criticisms of the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s new mining legislation being passed by the House of Representatives for self-interest, has been corrected by President, Chief Dr John Momis.
While large-scale mining is the only realistic option for rapid fiscal self-reliance for the new autonomous government, President Momis says, under the Bougainville Mining Law 2015, customary landowners have the final say.
Momis said that the controversial Panguna Mine will not reopen without the consent and agreement of landowners.
This was made clear during the tenth anniversary celebrations in Buka this week, that under the Bougainville Mining Law 2015, customary landowners own minerals, having the right to say ‘no’ to exploration and development, including mining licenses.
“Clear agreement by a clear majority of landowners, with no manipulation of consent. It is certainly possible Panguna will not re-open, if landowners opposite it, or if BCL do not return and alternative developers cannot be found,” Momis said.
Momis said the radical new Bougainville Mining Act, means any new mining will be on totally different terms from under the Bougainville Copper Agreement.
Possibilities for other communities wanting mining exploration will be properly evaluated.
“The biggest protection is that no development will be possible unless both landowners and the ABG are satisfied with all the conditions for mining.” He said.
The Bougainville President reiterated the mining law rights to landowners, to participate and decide their future, something the previous mining laws didn’t acknowledge.