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Papua and New Guinea - Bougainville Copper Project



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PAPUA AND NEV GUINEA - BGUGAII•lVILLE COPPER PROJECT

(Statement in the House of Representatives by the Minister for External Territories, the Hon. U.E. Barnes, M.P. on 21st August 1969)

I wish to inform the House of developments in

connection with the prevision of land for the Bougainville

Copper Project in the Territory, of Papua and New Guinea.

An Agreement has been signed f or the purchase of

Arawa Plantation as a town sitee at Ecugainville.

The Plantation will cease to operate for the

production of cocoa and copra as from 1st September, 1969.

However, immediate entry will be made to start work on the

hospital and school and for town surveys.

The owners will receive an immediate payment of

0600,000. The final figure will be in accordance with

fluctuations in the price of cocoa, the final estimate of

production and a number of other factors. To ensure equity

to the owners the factors which would determine the price

would be studied by experts. A legally qualified

arbitrator would determine claims for losses which do not

relate to the commercial value of Arawa Plantation.

Special arrangements are being made under the

agreement for the purchase of the orchid collection and.

the premises belonging to the New Guinea Biological

Foundation on the Plantation.

I also wish to report a furtherevelopment

in relation to native held land required for the project.

Mr. Paul Lapun, Member for South Bougainville in the

Territory House of Assembly and Mr. Raphael Bele, a

Rorovana landholder, have had talks with the Prime Minister

and with me as Banister for External Territories.

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In these talks it was recognised that the

Bougainville Copper Project which has been the subject

of special legislation by the House oi Assembly and which

has been endorsed a_'ain by that House in June last, is a

project cf great importance to the whole of the Territory.

It was also noted that the Ar.awa Plantation had

been bought by the Administration by negotiation with

the plantation owners.

Messrs. Lupun and Bele have also had discussions

with Conzinc Riotinto of Australia in Melbourne. In the

course of these talks the Company has indicated that in

addition to whatever compensation might be payable to the

native landholders for the purchase of the 175 acres of

Rorovana land required for the port site, it is willing to

plant equivalent areas of native owned land (at present

not producing) with cocoa and coconut trees so that the

landholders who are affected will have a continuing source

of income in the future;.

The Prime Minister and I emphasised in the

discussions the importance which the Government attaches to

the successful carrying out of the Bougainville Copper Project

from the point of vi_e

w n 3 of the future welfare and the interests

of the native people of Papua and New Guinea as a whole as

well as of the people of Bougainville 9 and pointed out that

for these reasons the Government could not allow the project

to be blocked. On the other hand the Government wished

to avoid unnecessary disturbance to the traditional way

3.

of life of the people. We indicated that if the native

landholders at Rorovana and Arawa were prepared to

negotiate a settlement similar procedures and principles

would apply to the question of compensation or payment

to native landholders of land as had applied in the

negotiations for the purchase of Araawra Plantation.

There is no reason trhy these people should not enjoy a

better life as a result of these changes.

JIr. Lapun said that he did not wish to see the

Copper Project abandoned. He felt that the prospects of

a negotiated settlement would be better if the Company

could be joined in the discussions and participate in

direct negotiations with the landholders. This was

agreed to.

Mr. Ijapun also stated. that care for the social

structure of the Bougainville people was of great

importance.

Messrs. Lapun and Bele are now returning to

Bougainville. They have indicated that they are not

authorised to make any commitments on behalf of the

Rorovana people but in the light of their discussions

with the Government in Canberra and with the Company in

Melbourne they will have discussions with the landholders

and see if they will agree to negotiate in the same way

as the owners of Arawa Plantation negotiated a settlement.

Representatives of the native landholders could take part

in these negotiations together with a legal adviser and

an accountant of their own choosing. The Government

would meet the reasonable costs of these advisers.

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Messrs. Lapun and Bele are in agreement with

the terms of this statement in so far as it relates to

them.