ABG’s plan to open mine criticised
By Winterford Toreas
The Autonomous Bougainville Government’s mission to fast-track the re-opening of the Panguna Mine in Central Bougainville is now drawing criticisms from many people on the island.
One of those who have always been vocal about the issue on the mine’s reopening is the former Bougainville Revolutionary Army (BRA) general commander Sam Kauona.
Mr Kauona revealed that the ABG was now in the process of amending Section 23 of the Bougainville Constitution which states that the landowners have total rights and control over minerals that is found in their land.
He said the ABG was now planning of amending this Mineral Rights law so that all minerals will become the property of the State.
He claimed that an “Australian sponsored lawyer” (name) had already conducted a three-day comprehensive workshop with President John Momis and his Cabinet at the ABG Parliament House about a fortnight ago.
Mr Kauona said their main focus of discussion was about the new Mining Laws and who should hold the title for the Mineral Rights.
He said this lawyer had emphasised that minerals were not owned by the people, adding that their only right was for gardening and living on those resources.
This lawyer had stressed that the people who claimed that they owned the minerals did not know what was underground or their value so the State had the power as it governed both the land and people.
Mr Kauona claimed that this lawyer was able to convince the ABG Cabinet and had put the ABG in a position to have Section 23 changed so that the ABG would take ownership of these minerals.
“I’m going to tell (this lawyer) and President Momis that I fought the foreign “inserted concept” (Law) and got rid of it. I’m here to write new laws governing my land, my resources and paramount of all, my people,” Mr Kauona said.
He said the old laws were gone and he was here to change, especially resource laws, whether it was the fish, timber, minerals or hydrocarbon laws.
Mr Kauona was also asked by this reporter to comment on the recent statement made by President Momis during the recently held JSB meeting in Kokopo, regarding the ABG’s move to fast track the reopening of the Panguna.
Mr Kauona gave a big laugh and said he had waited almost a year for his exploration licence but the Government had directed all its focus on the Panguna issue.
He said he would not comment on that but wanted the ABG President to reply to the petition which they had presented to him a few weeks ago.
Meanwhile, a two-day mining workshop was currently underway in Arawa.
The workshop, which started yesterday, was to get views from all stakeholders to legislate a temporary Mining Policy which would be presented in the next ABG parliament sitting scheduled to be held in December.
Mr Kauona, who is also the vice chairman of the Isina Resources Holdings Ltd is attending the worshop, along with five other landowner companies that have registered for mineral exploration licences. http://ramumine.wordpress.com/2012/11/01/abgs-plan-to-open-mine-criticised/