Speaking with reporter Jemima Garrett, Mr Momis also said the re-opening of the copper and gold mine at Panguna will be on terms dictated by his government.
The Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) was established after the disastrous civil war that raged through the 1990s led to the deaths of up to 20,000 people and destroyed much of the island’s infrastructure, including the mine.
“The underlying philosophy for our new Mining Act is empowering people, giving people the power to make political decisions about development not just being mere passive recipients of benefits,” Mr Momis said.
He said the new laws will give landowners the right to veto any exploration if they believe the developer and the government are not acting in the landowners’ interests.
“They also have the right to object once a development process begins,” he said.
Mr Momis said that, in the original negotiations between the Australian government and Rio Tinto (majority shareholder in Bougainville Copper Ltd) that led to development of Panguna, “their zeal to generate revenue completely ignored the people’s way of doing things.”
“What we are saying is that the resource no longer belongs to the state [of Papua New Guinea], it belongs to the people and to their own government. Rio Tinto will have to deal with us.”
Mr Momis said he was pushing the new mining legislation through parliament much faster than expected “because a rash of small companies are entering Bougainville without permission and signing up landowners to deals with no legal basis.
“My message [to these companies] is that they must forthwith stop. What they are doing is illegal. There is a moratorium [on exploration and mining] imposed in Bougainville.
“We believe one big mine is sufficient and, if pressed, we may allow for one more mine. No more. We know there are possibilities but we are making sure that we first of all make proper use of the revenue generated by the Panguna mine and have it equitably distributed.
“We want to make sure that the current generation, as well as the future generation, are looked after and that we have our own people educated and skilled to handle the problems that the mining process will bring on Bougainville. If we don't then we'll be swamped.