The Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association Inc (“SMLOLA”) has shown appreciation of the efforts of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (“ABG”), giving Bougainville Copper Limited (“BCL”) every opportunity to step up and win landowner support, as they repeatedly stated they had.
This comes after BCL was given over 24 months of exploration licenses by the ABG.
“However they have not even taken responsibility for the past or offered us any compensation, just lots of broken promises. They have clearly failed under the Bougainville Mining Act and we thank the ABG, Mining Department, Mining Registrar and Mining Warden for conducting an open and fair Warden’s Hearing, which has shown that BCL will never be welcomed back into Panguna. The professionalism of the Hearing has brought much hope to our people who many feel they were being listened to for the first time,” Group Chairman Phillip Miriori said in a statement this afternoon.
Mr Miriori outlined the warden had heard during the reasons for opposing the redevelopment of the mine as:
• the legacy issues – both environmental and social impacts which BCL has refused to take any responsibility for;
• BCL has offered no compensation for these core legacy issues despite repeated demands of both our Government and our people;
• the insurmountable liabilities that arise directly from these legacy issues, both real and contingent, render BCL a totally inappropriate legal structure to move forward with, exposing us all to their sins of the past;
• our legal advice that the BCL 2 year exploration licence actually expired 15 months ago on 7 September 2016 but we allowed the Warden’s hearing process to continue, because of our confidence in the result and to ensure there was no uncertainty left in people’s minds that BCL would ever be able to return;
• the decade long, $6 billion BCL Development Plan, with no commitment for assistance before the mine was back up and running, was hopelessly unrealistic and unfair; and
• the absence of any meaningful community assistance over the last 30 years, and in particular over the two-year term of the BCL EL. Again lots of promises but nothing of substance.
Miriori said further his people needed to develop an economy that is fair and diverse.
However the Chairman also understood that if the company were to be redeveloped it would be through the redevelopment of the Panguna mine but with careful consideration of land use and environmental and economical protections.
“President Momis has said he will now meet with the Panguna Landowners and develop an alternative plan for Panguna and we welcome the opportunity to work with the ABG. We have invested a great deal of time in this agenda over the last couple of years and believe now the road is clear to deliver a solution where all can win and we do not need to look backwards but can focus on the future.” Miriori said.