Momis back leading the chorus for Rio Tinto’s return
Panguna mine critical to Bougainville’s progress
Bougainville’s leader says the re-opening of the Panguna mine is vital to the province’s progress.
Radio New Zealand
The president of the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville says the re-opening of the Panguna mine is vital for the autonomous province’s economic and social advancement.
There was widespread debate about the matter last year and with the government holding consultations around the province.
But the last of these, probably the most crucial, with the community around the Panguna mine, is yet to go ahead while the government’s new mining law is also being held up.
President John Momis told Don Wiseman the province cannot go ahead without the mine opening but some people are not co-operating.
JOHN MOMIS: The landowners have not fully co-operated and in order for us to open the Panguna mine we also have to have our own mining act. We have struck some problems because certain quarters are not co-operating. They have got some problems, so we have put that on the backburner right now.
DON WISEMAN: Some of those groups that you are having problems with, they are saying they would prefer there not to be any mining at all, that the province can do better concentrating on other things like agriculture and fishing and tourism, this sort of thing. There is a lot of merit isn’t there, in what they are saying?
JM: Yes and no. It is my view that without the mine it will be well nigh impossible to generate enough revenue to run the autonomous government. It is just not possible. Even with all the help from the national government, you can’t run the autonomous government with the budgetary allocation we get, the current budgetary allocation. so we are not attracting a lot of investment in agriculture and fisheries, whereas the mine will generate a lot of revenue. And it will be under our own mining law and our own policy.
DW: But if you put in place the infrastructure you are talking about and the various other services, at that point presumably the province would become a far more attractive investment opportunity.
JM: If we have the money. We are having difficulty getting the funds.
DW: What sort of assistance are you receiving from international aid donors? I know you are getting a little bit of help from the likes of Australia and New Zealand but are you getting help elsewhere?
JM: The biggest help is from Japan – 15 bridges built – by the way one of them was washed out the other night – apart from that we don’t have much. We have a bit of Chinese investment but it is very small. We still have rule of law problems, you know law and order. We have a police force that is not strong enough, lacks capacity.
DW: We talked about this last year but you were looking for assistance from New Zealand and Australia in terms of creating a different type of police force, changing the training and that sort of thing. Is that underway?
JM: Things are moving at a snail’s pace. We have a real problem with our police. Much as we are getting help from New Zealand, it is just not happening quickly. We need big funds. That is why I am saying unless we have the mine open we will be moving at a snail’s pace and ABG’s being accused of not doing anything but ABG doesn’t have the funds and that is our biggest problem.