Bougainville president, chiefs condemn Rio Tinto ‘conspiracy’ over mine – by Pacific Media Centre Editor (Asia Pacific Report – July 4, 2016)

Bougainville’s president and Meekamu landowner chiefs have condemned the Rio Tinto “mess” over Panguna mine and the traditional landowners have called for the company to be charged for “stealing our resources”. President Momis today expressed shock and disgust at a “disgusting and shady deal” between the Papua New Guinea national government and Rio Tinto.

He said the national government was deeply involved in Rio Tinto’s decision to transfer 17.4 percent equity in Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL), making the national government equal shareholder with the Autonomous Bougainville Government in BCL.

Momis also warned the move was a “grave threat” to the Bougainville Peace Agreement. In a statement published on Bougainville News, President Momis said :

“Rio Tinto officials verbally advised me on Wednesday night of Rio’s decision to transfer its shares to a trust, with 17.4 percent to be available to PNG and 36.4 percent to the ABG.

“The ABG has been aware since 2013 that PNG was proposing to purchase Rio’s 53.8 percent majority equity in BCL.

‘Deeply sensitive’

“I advised the Prime Minister on many occasions that Panguna mine and BCL share issues were deeply sensitive for Bougainville.

“I told him that national government majority ownership in BCL could endanger peace. I expressed the same views to Rio Tinto in meetings in July 2015 and February 2016.

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