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Momis says attack on exploration proposal is “nonsense & lies”

National 'Cruel Victory' advertisementKEITH JACKSON

BOUGAINVILLE President John Momis has described as “nonsense and lies” an attack on his statement to parliament about lifting the moratorium on mining exploration.

Extracts from Dr Momis's statement were published in PNG Attitude on Thursday.

Dr Momis responded to claims by Sam Kauona, former leader of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, that he was controlling the process for the sole benefit of Bougainville Copper (BCL) and its majority shareholder, Rio Tinto, in order to prevent Bougainvilleans benefiting from mining.

The claims were made in a full page advertisement in The National newspaper late last week, headed Cruel victory by Rio Tinto/BCL over Bougainville.

The moratorium on exploration was imposed in 1971 at the request of Bougainville leaders and it aimed to protect landowners from the unlimited expansion of mines throughout Bougainville.

“I have no power to lift the moratorium,” Dr Momis said. “Cabinet has not even developed a position on the issue. So far the only thing we have done is open public debate on whether the moratorium should be maintained or lifted.

“In the parliamentary debate on 5 April, I recommended lifting the moratorium partially. That gives the new Bougainville Mining Department time to build capacity to manage the new system for exploration licence applications.

“The Mining Department has not yet developed administrative arrangements needed for an international tender of licences and for a new system of community mining licences for small-scale miners.

“My recommendation did not decide the matter,” said Dr Momis. “The debate was adjourned to the next sitting of the parliament and members can now consult their constituents.

“The debate will continue when the parliament meets again in May or June. This encourages wider public debate in Bougainville on this sensitive and important issue.”

Dr Momis challenged Mr Kauona to explain why he is afraid of public debate about lifting the moratorium.

“I will continue to recommend partial lifting,” he said. “I want to see exploration licences limited to just one or two areas initially. That limit could be reviewed after international tender and community mining licence arrangements are in place.

“Mr Kauona’s claim that my recommendation is intended to look after BCL and Rio is nonsense.

“Like any other exploration licence holder, BCL has no guarantee of getting a mining licence, because landowners have a right to say ‘no’ to grant of all such licences.

“The mining giant Rio Tinto certainly don’t see the Mining Act as looking after them. In fact, the loss of their previous licences saw Rio Tinto launch its ongoing review of its investment in BCL.

“It now looks very likely that Rio Tinto will withdraw from BCL and that there is little likelihood of BCL reopening the Panguna mine.”

Dr Momis said he had made this clear in his statement to the Bougainville parliament, including issuing a strong call for Rio Tinto to undertake a full clean-up of the mining area should it decide to withdraw from BCL.

“Is Mr Kauona deaf?” he asked. “How on earth can he say I am only concerned to protect BCL and Rio Tinto? What nonsense and lies!

“There is no conspiracy between the ABG, Rio Tinto, BCL and Australia. Mr Kauona and his few supporters, like Mathias Salas, must stop signing the nonsense and lies his Australian-Canadian partner Mr Lindsay Semple writes for them.

“Whenever Semple and Kauona don’t get the access to minerals that they want, they make false claims about a conspiracy - nonsense and lies!

“Their statements are nothing more than desperate attempts to build support for their own economic interests by creating fears about BCL. It’s shameful.”


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Joachim Lummani

I believe the president is honest in terms of the efforts that his government is putting in terms of ensuring mining dealings benefit the people of the region as a whole.

In light of the fact that he has always stood up for people's rights long before, no one who knows him well would believe that he has now, for some reason, decided to protect the interest of a troubling capitalist firm to the detriment of the same people he has always defended their rights.

Either Samuel Kauona and his friends are just not being honest themselves for some reason or, they're not reading what the ABG is doing with regard to mining with the right frame of mind, because of some deeply seated thoughts they're not able to free themselves from.

I would advise Samuel Kauona and his friends not to tell lies or misinform the public so as to protect their credibility.

It would be a good test of leadership maturity to go up and face the president and his team and ask them simply to explain whatever aspects of the mining dealings that you people struggle to understand and/or accept.

I am not a mining expert at all (am an idiot in this area) but when I read the president's statement, at least, I can understand his well-intentioned logic and of his government for that matter.

I find it hard to accept that the president is simply rationalising lies, dishonesty & self-interest which Kauona and his friends are discovering and airing it to the public.

Bougainville deserves much better than this stuff. Rise!

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