17 Aug 2016

PNG to give mine shares to Bougainville

7:30 pm on 17 August 2016

The Papua New Guinea Government is to transfer mining shares gifted it by Rio Tinto, to the people of Bougainville.

Panguna mine.

Panguna mine. Photo: Wellington Chocolate Factory

The Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill, told parliament today his government is aware of the pain and torment the people of Bougainville have gone through, and the importance of land to them.

The shares in Bougainville Copper Ltd, which had run the long shut-down Panguna mine, will ensure the autonomous government has a majority shareholding in the company.

Bougainville President John Momis has been pressing for the shares for weeks and had threatened legal action against both Rio Tinto and the national government.

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill (left) and the Bougainville President, John Momis (right)

Papua New Guinea Prime Minister, Peter O'Neill (left) and the Bougainville President, John Momis (right) Photo: AFP/RNZI

A critical concern for Mr Momis is that Rio Tinto is walking away without clearing the damaging legacy left by the mine such as ongoing environmental and social issues.

Last week, Mr Momis signalled the Bougainville administration could take legal action against Rio.

Mr O'Neill has now told parliament his government is serious about empowering communities and giving Bougainville's landowners and the people direct control over any future mine developments.

He added that this transfer of shares further strengthens the confidence of Bougainvilleans in the peace process.

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