B'ville govt open to talks on mine amendments
The Autonomous Bougainville Government is still amenable to continue discussing the future of the Panguna mine, acting ABG president Raymond Masono said yesterday.
He said that will not only be addressed by Special Mining Lease Osikayang Landowner Association (SMLOLA) but should include other Bougainvilleans who lost relatives during the war fought over the ownership rights to the resource, which the proposed amendment is aimed at addressing.
Mr Masono said the ABG cannot be blackmailed into an ultimatum, which, the ABG believes, is a desperate attempt by SMLOLA’s financiers.
He said the Bougainville government is the only legitimate authority and it has the interests of its people at heart.
Mr Masono was responding to an ultimatum given by SMLOLA this week.
“Unless I am missing something here, there is no direct link between the amendment being proposed to the Bougainville Mining Act and the ongoing programme to contain weapons prior to the conduct of the referendum,” he said.
“There is, however, a direct link between the ongoing weapons disposal program and a free, fair, and transparent referendum, which is the desire of all Bougainvilleans.”
He said laws are made by legitimate governments for the good of all citizens, not to accommodate the interest of one group of people.
Mr Masono said the amendment is to consolidate landowner ownership rights with increased benefits and compensation through Bougainville’s own mining company.
He said SMLOLA would rather that RTG be given the licence to develop the Panguna mine just like the old BCL days, when profits from the mine were remitted, leaving Panguna landowners with little or nothing.
With regards to the ultimatum to withdraw the amendment, Mr Masono said the government had listened to the people and has deferred the amendment until after the referendum.
“The ABG is still open to continue discussing the future of the Panguna mine, not only with SMLOLA but also with all Bougainvilleans, who lost family members during the crisis,” he said.
“The ABG cannot be blackmailed for the sake of the referendum over this issue.”