THE Minister for Communications and Information Technology and Central Bougainville MP Jimmy Miringtoro has voiced concerns at the Autonomous Bougainville Government’s failure to consult with the four national MPs prior to holding talks with BCL and landowners.
He said the meeting lacked transparency and what was discussed, therefore it holds no water.
“As Member for Central Bougainville where Panguna is situated, along with fellow Members of Parliament from the region, we should have been consulted because mining is still a very delicate and emotional issue at this stage,” Mr Miringtoro said.
“My biggest concern is that if ABG makes a commitment without wider consultations, we will face big problems as we do not have mining laws in place to refer to when discussing an industry which is a source of all manner of problems ranging from and environmental damage to social displacement of communities around the mine site.”
He said whether the mine at Panguna were to re-open or not is a matter for Bougainvilleans to decide on after wider consultations have been carried out throughout the region and not just with landowners or ABG.
The next step then would be to draft mining laws that will protect the resource owners and all Bougainvilleans from being ripped off by companies that come here to make a quick buck and leave behind a smoldering wreck once the minerals had been mined out.
He said the national Government is already looking to make changes in the way mining is conducted in the country.
According to him, mining companies will be held accountable and responsible for environmental damage and other problems associated with mining in the future. He said the Government will also ensure resource owners get equitable share of benefits from resources found or mined on their land. Under the new arrangements, resource owners are to earn an increment from every stage of the process that their resources go through, until they become a finished product.
“I don’t see why the ABG is so adamant and in a rush to have the mine at Panguna re-opened by BCL who refuse to accept the responsibility for clearing up and cleaning the mess they have created in my electorate,” Mr Miringtoro said.
“I am going over a body of evidence against BCL given to me recently and I see that there is more enough evidence to take BCL to court for their past crimes against the people of Bougainville.
“I will be holding consultations the communities in my electorate to consider the possibility of taking BCL to court based this evidence.”
Mr Miringtoro said there are many mining companies out there but before they can bid to open a mine in Bougainville they must agree to our terms and conditions and abide by our homegrown mining laws.