Former Papua New Guinea leader Julius Chan has applauded Prime Minister Peter O’Neill for giving landowners and local governments a bigger stake in mines in Bougainville and Western Province — but he says it fails to go far enough.
The Panguna mine on Bougainville island is one of the South Pacific’s largest for copper and gold but has been shut since 1989 after attacks by secessionist rebels in a conflict that has cost an estimated 10,000 lives.
Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto had a 53.8 per cent stake in Bougainville Copper Limited, which controls Panguna, but last month said it would give its share to the PNG government and Bougainville’s autonomous administration, leaving both parties with a 36.4 per cent stake.
It was the first time Bougainville’s autonomous administration had owned a stake in Panguna.
Mr O’Neill told parliament on Wednesday his government — which already has a 19 per cent share of BCL — would transfer the 17.4 per cent stake from Rio to Bougainville to “help to alleviate some of the legacy issues of the past”.
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