Momis Says Bougainville Has Legal, Moral Authority Over Panguna

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ABG President declines invitation to Moresby to discuss mine

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Nov. 9, 2012) – The Autonomous Region of Bougainville says it has a legal and moral authority – not the national government – to make decisions on the Panguna mine.

ARB President chief Dr John Momis will not attend a meeting in Port Moresby tomorrow proposed by the national government to discuss matters related to the reopening of the mine in Bougainville.

Momis said because the Bougainville crisis originated from the conflict over Panguna, it was the ABG that had a "clear moral authority" to make all decisions about the future of the Panguna mine.

"Further, we are far advanced in the process of transferring mining powers to Bougainville agreed in 2008. The ABG envisages passing its own mining law before the end of the year," Momis said.

He said the ABG should be the one to initiate actions in relation to Panguna and urged the national government to "recognise that authority".

He said the ABG was building its capacity to deal with mining issues by establishing a mining department, an office for Panguna negotiations and a cabinet committee on Panguna negotiations.

"All decisions about the future of Panguna will be made utilising this home-grown capacity," Momis said.

He said they welcomed any suggestions from the national government on the mine but any discussions on these should be held in Bougainville, not Port Moresby.

The invitation for the Port Moresby meeting tomorrow came from the Minister for Petroleum, Oil and Gas William Duma in collaboration with Bougainville Regional MP Joseph Lera, Minister for Bougainville Affairs Steven Pirika Kamma and Minister for Communication Jimmy Miringtoro.

The discussions are expected to be on:

Possible Panguna mine ownership concepts; benefit-sharing models available for consideration by the ABG and the national government on the Panguna mine; and, options for possible mine developers from Brazil, Venezuela and other South American nations other than Bougainville Copper Ltd.

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