An independence referendum in Bougainville has reignited interest in copper mining in the South Pacific island, causing a surge in the shares of the former operator of the mine that sparked the region’s war to secede from Papua New Guinea.
The Board of RTG Mining Inc. (“RTG”, the “Company”) (TSX Code: RTG, ASX Code: RTG, OTCQB:RTGGF) announces that, as previously advised the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (“SMLOLA”), the Landowner Association whose members are the Customary Owners of the land and mineral resources of the Panguna Mine (the area of the old EL 01), have nominated RTG as their development partner for Panguna. A Joint Venture Agreement, consistent with the Bougainville Mining Act (“BMA”) has been entered into.
The Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA) in Panguna, Bougainville, in accordance with its Constitution, held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 21 December 2018 reporting back to its members on the significant activities during the year and the success of the extensive awareness and unification programs, establishing the hard fought for unity of its members, that has taken nearly 30 years to achieve.
The Board of RTG Mining Inc. (“RTG”, the “Company”) (TSX:RTG, ASX:RTG, OTCQB:RTGGF)is pleased to announce it has provided financial assistance to participants in the recent Central Bougainville Regional Parliamentary Committee Conference held in Arawa in October to assist their Weapons Disposal Plan and Containment Process which was launched last week….
RTG Mining Inc. (TSX: RTG, ASX: RTG) (“RTG” or the “Company”) was pleased to be invited as the major and naming sponsor for the festivities on Bougainville Day in Arawa. Bougainville Day is an annual celebration to commemorate the day on which Bougainville was granted autonomous self-government. The celebration is a community event with backing of local business houses and the Kieta District Administration.
The Chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (“SMLOLA”), Mr Philip Miriori said “I am pleased to finally put to bed the lies of Bougainville Copper Limited (“BCL”), most recently outlined by Mel Togolo at the Annual General Meeting of BCL. They have unsuccessfully tried to work against the interests of the Panguna Landowners by stating to all, its shareholders, the Courts in their aggressive action against our own Autonomous Bougainville Government and the press that they have as much as 90% of “titleholders” support in Panguna. We have proved this statement is both false and misleading and we call on them to simply not return to Panguna. They are not welcome here in Panguna. Why are they wasting our time and limited resources – let us move forward in our own way.”
Bougainville Copper Limited (“BCL”) continues to insult and disrespect Bougainville: the Panguna Customary Landowners by the recent statements made by BCL’s Chairman, Mr Mel Togolo and the ABG by their treatment at their Annual General Meeting blocking their vote.
The Chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (“SMLOLA”), Mr Philip Miriori is pleased to announce that in line with the objectives of the Association, we have been working with the team at the new Arawa District Hospital including Dr Joe Vilosi Poten to assist in providing much needed medical supplies to the new hospital which is officially opening in a few weeks.
“We the Leaders of the Emai Families of Guava village would like to correct recent statements wrongly attributed by representatives of BCL, to our Chief Thomas Oni, trying to take advantage of our family and our “Disabled (on wheel chair) Chief. It was a false media release put out by the BCL representatives without our Emai Families’ consent. The purported comments by Chief Oni were misleading and taken out of context”.
Following the recent rejection of Bougainville Copper Limited’s plans to redevelop Panguna, by the Bougainville Executive Council and President Momis’s press release on 22 December 2017 suggesting he would like to work more closely with the landowners to find an acceptable redevelopment proposal for Panguna, that will be widely supported by Bougainvilleans and unite the landowners, we were very appreciative of President Momis’s offer to meet, to start this process.
The Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association Inc (“SMLOLA”) is appreciative of the efforts of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (“ABG”), giving Bougainville Copper Limited (“BCL”) every opportunity to step up and win landowner support, as they repeatedly stated they had. As evidenced by the Warden’s Hearing however, the landowners for the first time, were fiven an opportunity to speak their mind and clearly BCL does not have the support of the community at large, even after a two year exploration license and a further period of nearly 18 months. We feel the ABG has been more than fair to BCL. However they have not even taken responsibility for the past or offered us any compensation, just lots of broken promises. They have clearly failed under the Bougainville Mining Act and we thank the ABG, Mining Department, Mining Registrar and Mining Warden for conducting an open and fair Warden’s Hearing, which has shown that BCL will never be welcomed back into Panguna. The professionalism of the Hearing has brought much hope to our people who many feel they were being listened to for the first time.
Mr Philip Miriori, the Chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (“SMLOLA”) and Mr Lawrence Daveona are pleased to report to all members, that following a customary reconciliation process, both men as leaders in Panguna have reconciled and are keen to build unity amongst all members to support the initiatives of the Chairman, Mr Philip Miriori
The Mediation process reconvened yesterday, following 6 full days in previous rounds and an extensive separate reconciliation process between myself, Philip Miriori and Mr Lawrence Daveona who has been seeking to challenge by leadership of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (“SMLOLA”).
Mr Philip Miriori, the Chairman of the SMLOLA is annoyed by the recent Shareholder Release by Bougainville Copper Limited (“BCL”) which is, profoundly misleading and shows complete disrespect for the facts, the SMLOLA and the views of many of our members, who are standing up for their rights and say, “No to BCL Forever”. The SMLOLA petition against the return of BCL now represents around 2,000 members and continues to increase, but BCL just refuses to listen. BCL try and distract from the real issue – a lack of necessary landowner support – by suggesting there is a leadership issue. Mr Miriori is the Court approved and recognised Chairman of the SMLOLA and MR Daveona’s challenge is disingenuous as it only arose when the members’ view – NO TO BCL – was made clear to BCL. It was a last-ditch effort to try and go around our members.
– According to IPA records; Rio Tinto still controls BCL.
– ABG has no shares in BCL.
– No Prior Written Consent by ABG.
– BCL’s registered office is still Rio Tinto’s HQ in Melbourne.
The Chairman of the SMLOLA, Mr Philip Miriori says “As many would be aware, we Bougainvilleans have been through a tough history with the disasters that came from the past operations at Panguna, then owned by Bougainville Copper Limited (“BCL”). One of the key issues that lead to our civil war, where around 20,000 of our friends and family died, was the way we were treated by BCL then, entering our lands without consent, without compensating us fairly. Since the end of the conflict, BCL has made no effort to resolve the damage they caused to our people, lands and rivers – infact they deny any responsibility and are trying to tell us what to do again, calling us impediments when we do not agree with the rules they try and dictate. Have they learned nothing or think we have forgotten?”
Finally Bougainville Copper Limited (“BCL”) acknowledges it has again failed to win a Social License and now says it will “step up its on-the-ground activities in Bougainville” which should have been obvious much earlier, given the recent road block which stymied their efforts to have a support agreement signed and the petition that was signed by approximately 550 people living in and around the old minesite saying “No to BCL”. The petition was formally delivered to President Momis and the Autonomous Bougainville Government (“ABG”) in April this year. There is an ever growing community discontent about the way they are being treated and you do not get any understanding of that when you read BCL’s announcement.
The entire cabinet of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (“ABG”) travelled by convoy from Buka to Panguna last Friday, with the intent of signing a MOA in favour of Bougainville Copper Limited (“BCL”), without any consultation with us. Not only were they blocked from passing through Morgan’s Junction at Panguna, by hundreds of unhappy and discontent landowners, but the Court also issued an injunction restraining the signing of their proposed MOA by all parties including the ABG. They were left with no option but to turn around and return to Buka.
At the same time as President Momis and his entire cabinet were travelling by convoy from Buka to Panguna last Friday, with the intent of signing its MOA, and then prevented from passing through MOrgan’s Junction up to Panguna by hundreds of landowners, the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association’s Lawyer, Michael Wilson of Warner Shand was arguing for an injunction restraining the signing of the MOA by all named parties including the ABG on behalf of the SMLOLA.
Recent press articles suggest both the Governments of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea are considering supporting Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) to redevelop the Panguna Mine. The Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA), the legal owners of the minerals and land at the old Panguna mine cannot understand why that would even be considered.
For 17 years since the Bougainville Conflict was settled, both MGU and SML customary landowner groups have been working separately and often in conflict with each other. The causes of this conflict go back to 1964, when Bougainville Copper Limited first occupied and destroyed our ancestral land and our way of life. Without landowner consent, BCL built the world’s largest open cut copper mine generating untold wealth which was never shared with the landowners. This must never happen again.