By JONATHAN TANNOS THE
Bougainville Mining Lease cannot be reviewed, despite its expiration yesterday, because of an automatic 21-year extension clause under the Bougainville Agreement. Such is the case facing the once prolific world copper producer but the Government will be working with all affected stakeholders, including landowners to find ways to reverse the process.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill explained to Parliament yesterday that both the Bougainville Mining Agreement and the Mining Lease Agreement did not allow the Government to cancel it. He said even amendments to the Autonomous Government of Bougainville Act could change the 21-years automatic recurring lease extension period.
He was answering questions from National Capital District Governor Powes Parkop, who raised questions over the matter, adding considering the hardships both Bougainville and the country went through why there could not be a cancellation to mining lease. He also asked if a moratorium on exploration was in place for any regions of Bougainville.
Mr O’Neill said the Government was working closely with all stakeholders including landowners, eventhough they had indicated they were not interested in the renewal of the mining lease. He said on the question of the current mining lease agreement provisions, it would be useful to work together to review the 21-year automatic extension clause and find legal means to remove it.