Bougainville decision on mining moratorium yet to be made
The President of Bougainville John Momis says any decision on the lifting of the moratorium on mining exploration is for the Bougainville Executive Council to make.
The President of Bougainville John Momis says any decision on the lifting of the moratorium on mining exploration is for his cabinet, the Bougainville Executive Council, to make.
This comes after the legislature in the Papua New Guinea autonomous region supported a full lifting of the moratorium in a session in the ABG last week.
The moratorium has been in place since the 1970s.
President Momis says a decision is yet to made and he told Don Wiseman why a partial lifting is needed.
JOHN MOMIS: Partial lifting would have allowed us, the ABG, which as yet doesn't have the full capacity to handle massive applications for exploration and at the same time maintain control of the number of exploration licenses and allow credible developers or investors to apply for exploration licences.
DON WISEMAN: Would this have brought in major projects, would this have initiated major projects or are you talking about people doing alluvial mining? What do you mean by a partial lifting under our mining law?
JM: We will only allow two big mines and no more. So it would allow for people to apply for licences to open up another mine, a big mine not just alluvial mining and other mechanised smaller mines.
DW: What has happened though is that the ABG has ended up voting for a complete lifting of the moratorium why did the legislature do that?
JM: Let me just explain first that the government - that is the BEC, Bougainville Executive Council, wanted to use the parliament as a sounding board instead of, because to go back to the people would be very expensive and we don't have the money to do that we have decided to use the parliament to have consultations with people's representatives. And on two occasions we used the current parliament sitting to do that. So really the consultation which we had with the parliament was just to get the bills of the people through their representatives. It is the BEC that makes the decision to lift or not to lift. Or to lift partially or globally the moratorium. So ultimately the power is vested in the BEC, that is the cabinet.
DW: And as it is at the moment the moratorium hasn't been lifted wholly or partly but you are likely to decide on that very shortly.
JM: That is right yes, because according to law it is the BEC that decides. Instead of going to the people for which we don't have the money we decided to use the parliament to gauge the views of the people through their representatives. And that will guide the BEC in its decision to lift the moratorium partially or wholly.
DW: But the feeling from the ABG was that they wanted a whole lifting?
JM: Feeling of the parliament yes. The circumstances I think that led to the call for the whole blanket lifting is the current financial situation which we are in. You know the national government has totally failed to give us the constitutionally guaranteed grants, so people I think are a little bit fed up with all the false promises the national government is making so I think they are determined to raise their own revenue. And that is probably why they mistakenly think that by effecting a blanket lifting we will enable the ABG to make a lot of money. Which in fact this won't be the case, because we don't have the capacity. So to be responsible I believe we need partial lifting but in any case the granting of licences will be granted in accordance with the regulations the mining regulations which we will have to adhere to.
DW: There remains though, of course, very significant opposition and there has already been a lot of media traffic about the lifting of the moratorium and criticising of that. So it is still going to be a hard road to hoe isn't it?
JM: No, the land owners want the moratorium to be lifted. The opposition I think is mainly coming from the so called hard liners who certainly don't own the Panguna mine and the precincts.
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