The Manetai Limestone Project has the potential to increase the internal revenue of Bougainville, provide business and employment opportunities, and infrastructure developments to the people of Manetai and Bougainville as a whole.
The statement was made by ABG Minister for Mining Hon. Rodney Osioko in parliament this week regarding the Manetai Limestone Project.
Minister Osioko delivered his statement to parliament this week to seek the views of the House on the issue of the lifting of the Moratorium on the Manetai Limestone project.
Minister Osioko explained that the Manetai Limestone project is part of a number of strategic programs spearheaded by his Ministry and Department towards Bougainville’s goal of economic growth and development.
The Manetai Limestone Project existed during the pre-crisis period in the Eivo-Torau area, and was operated by the Bougainville Limestone Mining Limited, a company owned by Bougainville Development Corporation which was the business arm of the then Provincial Government.
The operations had ceased when the Bougainville conflict began and the limestone project was shut down.
In 2020, a total of six reconciliations were conducted among the people of Manetai to resolve grievances and issues among the people that resulted from the Bougainville Conflict.
The reconciliation further signified the people’s commitment and readiness to contribute to developing Bougainville’s economy through the redevelopment of the limestone project.
To date, the people of Manetai have established a corporate entity called the Manetai Development Corporation which accommodates all clans with close linkages to the project land and outer neighboring communities in their representative structure.
Following this, the people of Manetai had submitted a formal request to the Autonomous Bougainville Government for the moratorium over the area to be lifted so that the project can resume.
Minister Osioko explained in his statement, that the entire Bougainville Island has been under moratorium since April 1971, except for the areas where the ABG has lifted the moratorium to allow for licensed exploration and artisanal mining activities.
“The Mining Act 2015, under Section 66(6) allows the Bougainville Executive Council (BEC) to revoke or lift the Moratorium, in whole or in part, by notice in the Bougainville Gazette,” Osioko explained.
The Bougainville Mining Act 2015 also requires that before the Bougainville Executive Council takes action and exercises its power to wholly or partially revoke the Moratorium, it must first seek the advice of the Bougainville Mining Advisory Council (or BMAC) regarding the proposed revocation and also give the Bougainville House of Representatives an opportunity to debate on the merits of the proposed revocation or variation.
“The BEC has received the advice of the Bougainville Mining Advisory Council on the matter as required by law, and through this statement, the BEC now seeks the views of the House of Representatives,” Osioko explained.
He also called on the Members of the House to support the project.
“I call on the House and the relevant stakeholders to rally behind this project so that together we deliver on the Bougainville’s economic development objectives,” he urged.
In debating the Mining Minister’s statement, Members of the House showed unanimous support for the project saying that it will contribute largely to boosting Bougainville’s economy.
Minister Osioko further thanked the people of Manetai for their strong commitment and initiative shown to progress this project for Bougainville.
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