The Bougainville Mining Act 2015: Process, Substance and Controversies

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Abstract

The Bougainville Mining Act 2015 was enacted by the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) in March 2015, after seven years of intensive work. It gives effect to a mining policy designed to meet the unique circumstances of post-conflict Bougainville. Key considerations taken into account included:

the general belief amongst Bougainvilleans that ownership of land extends to everything on or in it, including minerals; the significant impacts of the Panguna mine in the origins of violent conflict in Bougainville; the extensive small-scale gold Bougainville mining industry developed since 1998; the broad but conditional support amongst Bougainvilleans for resumption of strictly limited numbers of large-scale mining projects, mainly to provide revenue needed for autonomy or independence, and only upon dramatically improved terms under Bougainville law. This presentation will discuss: the constitutional basis for the Act; main steps and processes in its development; key aspects of its substantive provisions, particular customary landowner rights and provision for small-scale mining; the main controversies about the Act; anticipated steps in its implementation; and its likely impacts in Bougainville (and as a possible exemplar for PNG more generally).

About the Speakers

Anthony Regan, Fellow, Department of Pacific Affairs, Coral Bell School, at the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific, is a Constitutional Lawyer who has advised successive Bougainville government since 1981. He was an adviser to the Bougainville parties in the negotiation of the Bougainville Peace Agreement and the preparation of the PNG Constitutional Laws that gave effect to it, and subsequently worked full time for the Interim Bougainville Provincial Government 2002-2004 assisting with implementation of the Agreement. He continues to advise the ABG on constitutional, policy and legal issues.

Kearnneth Nanei is acting Principal Legal Adviser for the ABG. He is a graduate of the University of Papua New Guinea, and has worked as a lawyer with the ABG since 2010. He has had extensive involvement in development of the Bougainville Mining Act, inclusive of community consultations, membership of technical working groups, and advising the Mining Minister and the ABG Cabinet on various stages of development of the Act.

Amanda Masono has been a legal officer with the ABG since 2010, and is also a graduate of the University of Papua New Guinea. She has had extensive involvement in the development of the Act in the 12 months to March 2015.

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