SMLOLA welcomes Bougainville govt meeting offer

12:35 pm on 19 July 2019

The Special Mining lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association, or SMLOLA, in Bougainville, has welcomed the government's willingness to try and find a resolution to the opening of Panguna.

Panguna mine site

Panguna mine site Photo: supplied

The government and SMLOLA have been at loggerheads over the opening of the mine, which the government had wanted ahead of the referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea.

That plan, which involved controversial changes to the Mining Act, has now been shelved until after the vote.

Earlier this week the acting President, Raymond Masono, told the Post Courier he was amenable to discussing the future of Panguna.

Mr Masono said any talks should include, in addition to SMLOLA other Bougainvilleans who lost relatives in the war.

Last week the Osikaiyang landowners, who are allied with former militants, said unless the government drops plans to change the Mining Act they will not support the push for weapons containment and disposal.

But Mr Masono said he cannot be blackmailed into an ultimatum.

The SMLOLA spokesman, Philip Miriori, said the willingness to talk as a first positive step forward towards reconciliation after many years of trying to have a meeting.

He said his group really appreciates the Minister's offer though he says the ABG does not appear to have a full understanding of the SMLOLA proposal and this should clarify this.

Mr Miriori said SMLOLA is offering to transfer to the ABG and all the people of Bougainville, 100 percent of Panguna and to then issue the Panguna licence to this 100 percent ABG owned entity to operate the mine.

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