PNG Mining News has reported that Michael Hunt, an advisor to the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA), has issued a stinging attack on the statement which attempted to justify the proposed changes to the Bougainville Mining Act (BMA).

Mr Hunt, one of the world’s leading mining lawyers, said, the Statement, entitled “Interpreting Part 17 of the BMA”, “pretends to explain the Bougainville Mining Act (Amendment) Bill 2019 (Bill) in laymen’s terms but in reality, it is a false and misleading manifesto riddled with errors.”

The changes were rejected by the Bougainville Parliamentary Committee on Legislation with the statement submitted to the committee by Minister Wilson and was published on June 19, 2019.

Mr Hunt categorically confirmed that the proposed amendments would actually abolish all of the landowners’ rights relating to any application by the company 40 per cent of which will be owned by McGlinn’s Caballus Mining and other foreign investors.

He added that all the provisions in Parts 1 to Part 16 of the BMA, which protect the rights of landowners, are over-ridden by the stroke of a pen in Part A of the Bill.

The confiscation of the landowners’ property and rights under the Bill is “unreasonable, unfair and unconstitutional.” said Mr Hunt in his formal legal opinion.

Mr Hunt confirmed the view previously expressed by SMLOLA: that the Bill “effectively confers a near monopoly on one company over exploration and mining on Bougainville”.

Mr Miriori, the Chairman of the SMLOLA further questioned how it was possible that they got the interpretation of the amending legislation so grossly incorrect?

The Parliamentary Committee reported that the normal practices and safeguards were sidestepped.

*Article published in the July-September 2019 issue of The Asia Miner

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