Posts Tagged ‘BCL’

Renzie Duncan and Philip Miriori team up in another illegal Bougainville venture 

June 29, 2017 2 comments

Sydney lawyer and mining venture capitalist, Renzie Duncan, is on the prowl again for Bougainville’s mineral wealth, with his old friend Philip Miriori,  the scandal-plagued, self-appointed head of the Me’ekamui Tribal Government.

This time its through Central Me’ekamui Exploration Limited, which is in partnership with Australian mining firm RTG Mining.

Company extracts indicate that Central Me’ekamui Exploration Limited, despite its very local name, is in fact a foreign enterprise.

This assertion is based on the fact it is 50% owned by Australian company, Central Exploration Pty Ltd.

Central Exploration Pty Ltd’s thriving head office is 266 Burns Bay Road, Lane Cove, New South Wales, Australia. This leafy address on Sydney’s north shore, is also the registered home address for Renzie Duncan.

Under the Investment Promotion Act 1992, a company which is 50% owned by a foreign entity is deemed a foreign enterprise and must apply for certification to conduct business in Papua New Guinea.

Section 41 of the Investment Promotion Act 1992 states it is an offence to carry on business without certification, punishable by a K100,000 fine.

There is no record with the Investment Promotion Authority that Central Me’ekamui Exploration Limited has applied for certification, despite the fact it has been clearly conducting business with RTG Mining.

However, this is not the first time Duncan, Miriori and the other Central Exploration Director, Michael Etheridge, have conducted business in Bougainville. 

The last time it was through Transpacific Ventures Limited.

In that case Transpacific Ventures informed investors:

‘In the past 12 months, TPV has negotiated and signed an Agreement (the “Cairns Agreement”) with the Sovereign Me’ekamui Tribal Government on an exclusive basis for 20 years, renewable, to advise customary landowners (the Me’ekamui) in developing their natural resources sector, including potential oil and gas, on the island of Bougainville, PNG and surrounding atolls and marine territories, and to participate with the Me’ekamui in such development and other business opportunities’.

Yes, that’s right, Philip Mioriri and his self-styled tribal government proposed to sign away the natural resources, landed and marine, across Bougainville. Clearly, he had no right to, and Transpacific Ventures had no legal business publishing this information to investors.

Of course the claim by President Momis that RTG mining ‘doesn’t have any money’, is rather ironic given that his preferred operator, BCL, cant even afford permanent staff – and has no means whatsoever to raise the sort of capital to develop Panguna.

But the core point all this squabbling between various minority interests distracts from is this – 98% of the people in and around Panguna oppose mining, under any industrial guise. They have suffered the environment and human loss.

The ordinary people – real landowners – don’t have government support, nor do they have access to the internet or media. Their voice is unheard, except when they protest and resist.

The re-entry of Duncan and Mirori, will be cynically used by the government to label all landowner resistance, simply a plot to bring in an alternative developer by the backdoor. If this is argued, it is a lie.

Landowners throughout the mine area remain opposed, like they have since 1963, when the first rumblings of Panguna began. Journalists will not report this. They don’t leave their offices, much less speak with someone who cant reply in english.

On the rare occasions they do leave their office, they knock on the door of Lawrence Daveona, Philip Mioriori and other individuals, who falsely claiming they somehow speak for all landowners, which they don’t. Of course the colonial powers did this back in the 1960s. Some poor old man, was wielded out to say yes, while the mothers cried no.

History has been a cruel teacher, it is unlikely the mothers of the land will allow the bulldozers through this time.


Rio Tinto stripped of nothing on Bougainville – and the ABG knows it!

August 25, 2014 1 comment

 MRA records show BCL’s mining lease over Panguna expired in 2011 and its exploration licences will expire next year. BCL’s own Annual Report and a previous statement from John Momis appear to confirm this state of affairs. So where does that leave all the media of the last few weeks…

So the plot thickens. Over the past fortnight, the media has gone into a fervour after Rio Tinto declared it will reconsider its majority stake in Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL).

This change of heart occurred, so we are told, after the Transitional Mining Act ‘stripped’ Rio’s subsidiary BCL of its mining leases and exploration licences. Some more shrill shareholders have called this expropriation, pure and simple.

Indicative of the recent headlines is the following remark which appeared in the Wall Street Journal:

‘The Anglo-Australian company [Rio Tinto] on Monday said it was reviewing its options for its controlling stake in Bougainville Copper Ltd, after the [Bougainville] government passed new laws that could strip the company of its lease on its Panguna mine’.

This seemingly bold step has been trumpeted by the Autonomous Bougainville Government as evidence that it is no stooge of Rio Tinto or the mining industry.

But it seems we may have all been fooled by what appears to be an elaborate hoax, which has been played out through the national and international media.

In their eagerness to trumpet the headlines ‘Rio Tinto stripped …’, no one has actually bothered to verify if BCL still actually holds a lease over Panguna!

Tsk tsk.

Now, according to PNG’s Mining Resources Authority BCL’s Special Mining Lease over Panguna expired in 2011.

mra map of mining lease area

Yet on 12 August this year President John Momis wrote to BCL’s Chairman to advise him that:

‘Prior to that [Transitional] Act coming into operation, BCL is the holder of an SML [Special Mining Lease] over the area of the current Panguna SML, primarily by virtue of the operation of the relevant provisions of the Mining (Bougainville Copper Agreement) Act concerning the SML.  As a result, when the Bougainville Mining Act commences, section 212(2) will vest BCL with an Exploration Licence for the area of what will then be the previous SML’.

Surely the good President is well aware that the SML had lapsed? From the above ‘letter’ it would seem not.

But the plot thickens further. Here is a very interesting report which the Post Courier published on 29 November 2011:

‘BOUGAINVILLE president John Momis last week thanked PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill for his decision not to approve the renewal of the Special Mining Lease (SML) held by Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) in Panguna for the last 42 years’.

So the President would seem to KNOW the SML has expired, yet has maintained publicly it is still in place. Why would he do that? And why would BCL play along? Or has the SML been renewed since November 2011 under the table, without public consultation (though this would presumably be reflected in the Mineral Resource Authority system)?

If it has not been renewed, why did BCL inform the Australian Stock Exchange on 25 June this year that ‘BCL holds a number of resource tenements in Bougainville, including a Special Mining Lease (SML), various  Leases for Mining Purposes and several Exploration Licences’.

The significance of this statement must be read in light of corporation laws. Giving materially false or misleading information to Australian Stock Exchange potentially breaches section 1309 of the Corporations Act. Doing this knowingly is a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to 200 penalty units and/or imprisonment for up to 5 years.

At the very least this June 2014 announcement would appear to contradict not only Mineral Resource Authority records, but admissions made in BCL’s 2013 Annual Report, which states:

‘The company’s special mining lease lapsed through effluction of time on 10 April 2011 and in accordance with the applicable legislation the company is entitled to a 21 year extension which has been applied for but not as yet granted‘.

And then there is the issue of the exploration licences. They are ALL set to expire early next year, something that has not been mentioned in the media.

mra map of exploration licences

Owing to the time frame they are basically worthless given that there is little chance of any exploration activity taking place before their expiration.

So what exactly has Rio Tinto been stripped of, or have they  been stripped of anything at all?

We dont know – its not clear.

Has the transitional legislation actually strengthened BCL’s position?

According to the legislation passed earlier this month, ‘If, on the commencement of this Act, an application for a tenement (other than an alluvial  mining lease) under the Mining Act 1992 in respect of land situated in the Autonomous Region of  Bougainville is pending, the application has effect, on and after that commencement, as if it were  an application for the corresponding tenement under this Act and must be dealt with under this  Act’.

The Mining Resources Authority records suggest the renewal of the Special Mining Lease is pending – so will it now be treated as a pending application for a mining lease under the transitional legislation?

If so, what does this mean for the landowning community? As they have no enforceable right to contest the grant of mining leases over resources they ‘evidently’ ‘own’, will this in effect mean that BCL can return to Panguna without landowner consent?

Other questions must be asked.

Was this transitional legislation rushed in place to facilitate the renewal of BCL’s expired interests? If so, why is Rio Tinto so ‘upset’? Is it all a facade?

Once again, the answer is not clear.

And why has the Autonomous Bougainville Government not alerted the media to the misreporting, given that the ABG must knows that the lease has expired and the exploration licences are nearly expired?

Now that is an important question!

What is clear is the real story is much more complex than the media narrative, and no one is prepared yet to reveal the truth behind the headlines.

Exclusive: Pro-mine Bougainville leader paid by foreign lobbyists

June 26, 2013 20 comments

The ‘new’ Panguna Landowners Association, led by its Chairman, Lawrence Daveona – a Port Moresby based businessman and civil servant – is holding itself out as the true representative body for landowners on Bougainville. And, to that end, the association has put itself in the box-seat to negotiate the mine’s reopening [1] with Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL).

But there is more to this political coup than meets the eye. PNGexposed can confirm that the group’s Chairman, Mr Daveona, has received thousands of kina in payments from the European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper (ESBC), a body set up by BCL’s European investors to lobby for the mine’s reopening.

These payments have been made by ESBC’s President, Axel G Sturm. According to The Australian, Mr Sturm is “possibly the company’s largest individual shareholder”. He has been agitating for the mine’s reopening from his home in the Principality of Andorra, a notorious tax-haven and secrecy jurisdiction (there is no evidence though that Mr Sturm is involved in any illegal activity).

Receipts and reports viewed by PNGexposed show that Daveona received numerous payments by ESBC between 2009-2011, ranging from K1,000 to K4,650 in value (see Appendix A). Some  payments are simply labelled ‘Project Funding’ and ‘ESBC Activities in Panguna’, while another was evidently made to purchase a laptop for James Tanis, Bougainville’s former President, who has now come out in support of the mine’s reopening. [2]

In 2008 the ESBC’s President, Mr Sturm, claimed to be “deeply impressed by Lawrence Daveona. He is the ideal mediator in this sensitive issue [mine reopening]. He has our [ESBC] confidence and our full support as well”. [3]

Axel G Sturm with Lawrence Daveona, Michael Pariu, Chris Damana and Severinus Ampaoi

Axel G Sturm with Lawrence Daveona, Michael Pariu, Chris Damana and Severinus Ampaoi – Davoena, Pariu and Ampaoi strongly supported, and profited from, Rio Tinto/BCL during the 1980s and once again lead efforts to reopen the mine today.

Axel G Sturm with Sam Akatoi

Axel G Sturm with Sam Akatoi another Bougainvillean ‘leader’ supporting Rio Tinto’s return.

We have also discovered evidence that Daveona, evidently on behalf of landowners, took K5000 from BCL to fund the reconciliation process between different landowner groups – a process viewed as a ‘fundamental condition precedent’ [4] for the mine’s reopening.

These payments – in particular the ESBC money – raise serious concerns over whether Mr Daveona’s leadership role has been compromised by personal pecuniary interests.

But there is more! Daveona was allegedly sacked in December last year as Acting Deputy Clerk of PNG’s Parliament (Daveona has lived in Port Moresby since the early 1990s). According to a Post-Courier report [5], “alcohol, vehicles and other resources have been provided by Parliament for Fraud Squad officers to carry out investigations against certain senior officers of the Parliamentary services”. It is claimed by the Acting Clerk of Parliament, Simon Ila, that his Deputy, Mr Daveona, was responsible for this inappropriate conduct.

It is perhaps not surprising then that Daveona was one of the targets of Francis Ona and Perpetua Serero as they attempted to clear out the rot from the landowning community during the late 1980s. At the time Daveona was a manager at the Bougainville Development Corporation (BDC), and a Secretary/Director of the Roads Mine Tailings Lease Trust Fund (RMTLTF) – a body set up to administer certain mine compensation payments.

The BDC was controlled by a number of rich nationals. When the conflict kicked off, and Francis Ona called for a more equitable distribution of wealth and resources, the BDC it appears were happy to assist the PNGDF slaughter their own brothers and sisters on Bougainville, flying and maintaining the infamous Iroquois helicopters supplied by Australia. By Daveona’s own admission: “Heli Bougainville was a subsidiary company of Bougainville Development Corporation (BDC) the very company I was also a subsidiary company manager of another one of its companies namely, Wear Resistant Material (PNG) Pty. Ltd at the start of the crisis in 1988. We the employees of BDC at that time knew this [that the PNGDF were using Heli Bougainville pilots] and it was business as usual for BDC”. [6]

The helicopter-gunships flown by Heli Bougainville dropped grenades onto villages, and dumped murdered civilians into the ocean – not exactly “business as usual”.

Daveona’s tenure at the RMTLF was also plagued by suspicions. Dr Henry Okole, a Senior Researcher in Governance and Institutional Matters at the National Research Institute, claims:

First, there was a complaint that formal membership of the RMTLTF, including the right to attend meetings and appoint the executive, had been artificially restricted to a small minority of the titleholders in the lease area, while the rest of the landowners had no control over its operation. Secondly, although many ordinary PLA members were aware of the business activities of the RMTLTF, some of our informants claimed that the management had failed to produce a financial report to notify them of the present financial standing of the fund. Thirdly, there was discontent over the recruitment of a Filipino as a general manager of the fund. This man was alleged to be in receipt of an annual salary of K12,000. There were claims that the PLA members were not notified of his recruitment, and there was clearly some resentment at the size of his reported salary. Finally, there were allegations that the whole operation of the RMTLTF, like that of the PLA itself, had come to be geared to the personal gain of the board members. For instance, sponsorship of students to higher education institutions was said to have been monopolised by the board members. There were also rumours that the fund had begun to operate as an integral part of the Bougainville Development Corporation – a move described by the some of our informants as ‘greedy’ and ‘self-benefiting’.

Lawrence Daveona has been, for many years, [7] an advocate of BCL’s return to Bougainville –this support is so overt that on Daveona’s website the following image appears when the heading “Our Future” [8] is clicked:

BCL executives enjoying a private boardroom dinner

BCL Chairman and Secretary enjoying the finer things in life.

To date Daveona’s support for BCL has been couched in largely benevolent terms, for the greater good of ‘his’ people. But in light of these payments, and other serious allegations, it would appear fair to ask whether other material motivations inform Daveona’s call for BCL’s return?

And how many other ‘leaders’, we wonder, are also taking payments from those associated with BCL, or have lucrative ‘business contracts’ lined up for BCL’s return – more than a few we bet!

Appendix A

Details of payments made