Source: Radio New Dawn on Bougainville
The decision to reopen the Panguna Mine rests solely with the Panguna Landowners and because of its political history the people of Bougainville.
Autonomous Bougainville Government President Chief Dr John Momis said that it has always been wrongly perceived that the ABG has the sole power to reopen the mine.
The President made these remarks during his ministerial speech yesterday during the second day of the ABG House of Representatives first Parliamentary sitting for 2014.
Dr Momis said the ABG has established a framework to assist with the negotiations along with an organization that will coordinate the negotiations.
“The Office of the Panguna Negotiations is an entity set up by the ABG to enhance the achievements of its broad objectives in regards to the mine,” Dr Momis said.
Dr Momis said that the Office of Panguna Negotiations has been set up within legal boundaries as required by the Bougainville Constitution and does not stand to marginalize anybody.
Since its inception and establishment by the Bougainville Executive Council in 2012 as a government entity it has developed several important policy submissions and information papers for the consideration of the Executive Government, the ABG.
It has also been instrumental in securing the K5 million per year for five years support grant for the negotiations from the ABG.
The Office of the Panguna Negotiations has also been responsible for facilitating the Bel Kol between Landowners and Bougainville Copper Limited which the ABG has approved for the 12th of May this year.
Dr Momis added that the entity has also been responsible for the widespread mining consultative forums which have garnered the opinions of Bougainvilleans on the issue of reopening the mine.
“From these forums there has been wide support of the ABG’s initiative to negotiate an understandable settlement,” Dr Momis said.
Some of the major challenges facing the Panguna Negotiations are the ever changing positions of key mine affected Landowners who backtrack after wholeheartedly supporting the ABG during the forums.
President Momis said the ABG and the majority cannot be held ransom by a minority who must soon make up their minds.
The President said while Panguna is still the ABG’s focus, it is not the option but rather one of the options available to the government.