Bougainville fury over Rio Tinto grows (Radio New Zealand – August 1, 2016)

The government in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region of Bougainville is to press the global mining giant, Rio Tinto, on several fronts after it last month divested itself of its majority shareholding in Bougainville Copper Ltd.

The company split its shares between the autonomous provincial government and the national government in Port Moresby.

But Bougainville is furious that it was not given all the shares, and that Rio Tinto said it is was no longer obliged to do anything about the damage caused by the Panguna mine, which sparked a civil war that lasted through the 1990s.

The province hoped to reopen the mine as a way to generate revenue should it vote to become independent from PNG after a referendum scheduled for 2019. Last month, the autonomous government held an emergency session of its parliament and issued a number of resolutions.

“My government, and all Bougainvilleans, oppose the shares in BCL being transferred to the PNG government. The justification for the transfer advanced by Rio has no basis,” John Momis, Bougainville’s president, told parliament.

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