The ABG Department of Mineral & Energy Resources facilitated a group of ten landowner leaders from Panguna to participate in the inaugural PNG Community Affairs and National Content Conference and Expo (CANCONEX) at the PNG University of Technology in Lae this week.
The group comprised of male and female family representatives from the five major landowning clans identified through the Panguna Mine Dialogue process.
The group was led by the ABG Minister for Mineral and Energy Resources Hon. Robin Wilson and accompanied by Minister for Community Government and Member for Ioro Constituency Hon. Theonila Roka Matbob, Central Parliamentary Committee Chairman and Member for South Nasioi Hon. Justin Borgia, and Central Regional Member for Ex-Combatants, Hon. Linus Dakei Jnr.
Presenting on “Lessons learnt from Panguna closure” were Paul Nerau, former CEO for Bougainville Development Corporation, former President PNG Council of Women Mrs Theresa Jaintong, and Hon. Matbob.
Minister Wilson also shared on policy responses to the lessons learnt, focusing on how community affairs, local content and Environment, Social, Governance (ESG) principles are enshrined in the Bougainville Constitution and reflected in the Bougainville policy and legislative framework with further policy developments being undertaken towards improving existing frameworks.
Hosted by the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, CANCONEX was focused on promoting awareness and engagement on national participation and community affairs. Participant’s included industry, investors, government, and landowners and landowner company representatives.
Various speakers, including Prime Minister Hon. James Marape, and Chamber President Mr. Anthony Smare, said that what happened in Bougainville must never happen again and acknowledged that there was minimal focus on community affairs and local content when Panguna was operation.
Speakers also acknowledged that Bougainville’s unfortunate mining history has contributed significantly to resource sector policy and legislative improvements in the community affairs and local content front not just in Papua New Guinea but also globally. An emotional standing ovation was accorded the Bougainville delegation.
This event provided an opportunity to see how the mining and petroleum sector today is more focused on community affairs and local participation to ensure benefits are captured locally. Participants also had opportunities to make new connections and learning opportunities from the shared experiences of stakeholders in the sector across the country and globally.
Landowners from various project sites including Lihir, Ok Tedi, Porgera, and others also participated and presented on their lessons learnt and success stories including successful benefits sharing structures and initiatives to promote local content.
Consistent with free-prior-informed principles, Bougainville political leaders and Panguna landowners will continue to be involved in such events to ensure informed decision-making on the future of Panguna.