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Statement from the Ministry for Mineral and Energy Resources: ASM Regulatory Enforcement Taskforce to be established

As the Minister responsible for Mineral and Energy Resources in Bougainville, I wish to inform the public on the formation of a Regulatory Enforcement Taskforce for purposes of the Bougainville Mining Act 2015. This Taskforce may also lead to the establishment of permanent mechanisms for ongoing cross-sector regulatory enforcement across other sectors.

We are all aware that unauthorized artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) in Bougainville is an activity that immediately needs government intervention to mitigate its negative impacts.

Recognizing that these activities cannot be eradicated overnight, it is necessary that appropriate regulatory enforcement mechanism be in place to ensure activities are undertaken in a regulated, controlled, responsible and safe manner.

Our mining law provides the Bougainville mining sector regulatory framework. The law also provides for penalties and offences provisions for dealing with unauthorized activities and unlawful receiving and possession of ASM gold and also further provides the basis for the seizure of unauthorized or unlawful gold, and the seizure of unlawful equipment. Seized gold and equipment are to be forfeited to the state.

Despite the existing legal basis for regulation of ASM, the law also protects Bougainvilleans and allows us to continue to undertake ASM related activities without a licence until a designated date is notified by the Bougainville Executive Council. This protection in law is not extended to non-Bougainvillean’s.

To date the offences and penalties provisions under the Act have not been fully enforced or implemented. With regulatory capacity now being put in place, it is critical that we see full implementation and enforcement of the Act to ensure the Act achieves its intended purposes.

Firstly, however, the Taskforce will be undertaking a stakeholder awareness campaign on the existing regulatory framework and the offences and penalties provisions. The awareness campaign will primarily be towards informing stakeholders that the ABG will now be effectively enforcing these provisions. The Taskforce will also incorporate awareness on health and safety aspects related to ASM to encourage those involved in ASM to responsibly undertake their ASM activities and to formalize their activities.

After the awareness campaign, there will be notification of a six (6) months grace period to allow those involved in unauthorized ASM activities to licence their activities. This notification will effectively remove the legal protection that has allowed us to continue to undertake ASM related activities without a licence. The Taskforce will immediately commence its enforcement activities after the lapse of the six (6) months grace period.

I therefore appeal to my people particularly in Central and South Bougainville who are involved in unlicensed ASM activities to attend the awareness campaigns and know the offences and penalties under the Bougainville Mining Act 2015 as well as the ASM licensing application approval process and requirements under the Act. I further urge everyone to cooperate with the Taskforce on commencement of its enforcement activities. 


Hon. Ishmael Toroama, MHR
President, and Minister for Mineral and Energy Resources

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