‘We’ll have final say on any mining,’ warn Panguna landowners

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A video report by Fabian Hakalits. Source: EMTV News

By Fabian Hakalits in Buka

Panguna landowners will determine any reopening of the controversial mine on Bougainville, says a local leader.

Philip Miriori, chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Land Owners Association (SMLOLA) in Panguna, Philip Miriori, has told EMTV News that all parties and talks would go through them.

This was because the people in the Special Mining Lease area were greatly affected by the mine’s impacts when it was operating in the 1980s before the 10-year Bougainville civil war.

“We do not want the past to repeat itself but it must be a reminder to us now to get a better deal for the SMLOLA members and the rest of Bougainville,” he said.

Miriori said the past had gone, and history should not be repeated in Bougainville.

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He claimed meetings had been conducted with resolutions and agreements passed which the SMLOLA were not a party to.

“They do not speak for me and my people but serve other interests,” he said.

‘Disrespectful’ to landowners
He said this was very disrespectful to the people of the SML area because they had no voice in the decisions that were being discussed by outsiders about their land on which their livelihood depended.

He also highlighted any decision or document signed to reopen the Panguna mine would be in contempt of court.

The court order restrains parties to the memorandum of agreement which was going to be signed in June this year to make Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) the preferred operator to reopen the mine.

This was because the question of the interests of landowners in the mining project would be an agenda of discussion at the court-ordered mediation in Panguna next month.

Miriori also highlighted that he had the mandate to represent his people through the SMLOLA and the National Court recognises him as chairman and not Lawrence Daveona.

Miriori maintained he was still the SMLPLA chairman until December 2018 when an election of a chairman would be held.

is EMTV News correspondent on Bougainville. EMTV News items are republished by Asia Pacific Report with permission.

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