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Thursday, 26 December 2013

Panguna mine landowners weaken

Leonard Fong Roka

In a participatory issue presentation for possible agendas for a landowners-Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG)-Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) meet and forum held for the 4th and 5th December 2013 in Buka’s Kuri Village Resort, it turn clear that the resource owners of Panguna mine related landowner groups had being weaken by the dissolving of their umbrella body the Panguna Mine Affected Landowner Associations (PMALA).
Panguna LOs in Buka
In a preliminary meeting on the 3rd December 2013 co-chaired by Dr. O’Fallie Cieran, one the two ABG AusAID funded consultants for the Department of Mining towards the re-opening effort and Raymond Masono, the coordinator of the Panguna Mine Negotiation Committee of the ABG and the Bougainville administration whilst Anthony Reagan kept silent through the opening hours with his personal body hovering about, it was obvious the landowners were disorganized and often contesting for a prevailing outcome and the demoralization of the other.

Before November 2013 there nine landowners groups, Siokate, Uruava, Port-mine-access road, SML, Upper Tailings, Lower Tailings, Bolabe and Bolabe and other Fish Owners, and the coastal Sea Corridor areas stretching from Torokina to Siwai. All were covered under the PMALA that had Lawrence Daveona as the chairman. However, over internal politicking members of the Siokate group that represents mostly the Arawa village people stood against it.  

Thus it was dissolved and now the landowner groups are independent. This is leading to snail pace of decision making as the groups turn to bark at each other. This independence means that when it comes to consultations or meetings with BCL, each group ought to be given a time which means time will be a factor to constrain progress for tangible outcomes for Bougainville.

This means more funding will be squandered in a body that does so often repel each other and more time will be wasted. So it will be a long road to bring progress on Bougainville regarding the Panguna re-opening issues, compensation and development.

This also will lead to the domination of landowners by external forces like ex-combatants, ABG and BCL as it was evident in this meeting.

Over the session former leader of the dissolved PMALA seem to raise critical issues towards the progress of the Panguna mine talks but the leadership of the Siokate, Therese Jaintong seem to oppose all his propositions to the ABG.

The main issue behind the dissolving of PMALA was the PMALA was or will belittle the respective nine landowner groups and also, that most groups despite having few common problems all did not share most of the problems.

So showing that the few leaders are not sure that their irresponsibility holds the Bougainville people at ransom and also leading the Bougainville people to further suspicions of all these actions as corruption oriented.

Thus there is high probability that landowner groups and their own people at home have a gap of communication in between that a change of attitude and character needs to sort out as Bougainville needs are well connected subject-authority relationship.

Generally Panguna mine landowner groups are running their own respective games in the face of the organized and focused BCL and ABG mining interests. To gain maximum benefit all have to be a united force against BCL and other interest groups.

And they, the landowner groups with ABG are now working towards sorting out all these issues.