Chief John Momis, President of Bougainville, spoke today about debate in Bougainville’s House of Representatives on the future of the Moratorium on mining exploration and development. The House concluded the debate on Tuesday 7 June and passed a motion asking the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) to lift the moratorium completely
The debate followed a request from the Bougainville Executive Council in April, when all members were also asked to seek the views of their constituents.
President Momis took the opportunity to identify some of the issues around the moratorium.
“The moratorium was imposed in April 1971, by the colonial administration,” President Momis said, “it prevented mining exploration or development in all areas except those already under BCL leases.
“Bougainvillean leaders asked for the moratorium [at that time] because of deep concerns that there might be many more mines in addition to the huge Panguna mine.”
The President stated that part of the reason the motion to lift the moratorium was passed was to address problem of public revenue.
“Although I proposed to the House that the moratorium should initially be lifted partially, most members of the House preferred to lift it completely,” President Momis continued.
“A major factor here is National Government failure to fund the ABG as the Peace Agreement requires.
“The ABG’s bad financial position means we must increase our internal revenue.
“Most members see mining sector development as the best way to lift the Bougainville economy, and also provide ABG revenue; My Government has listened to and will implement the motion of the House.”
The motion passed last week by the House was for the purposes of consultation and does not lift the moratorium. Under the Mining Act, it is the Bougainville Executive Council that has power to lift the moratorium and only once it has received advice from the Bougainville Mining Advisory Committee and allowed the House another opportunity for debate on the issues.