Bougainville says PNG must butt out on mining

2:44 pm on 25 August 2016

The President of Bougainville has told Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill he is interfering in a situation he does not understand.

John Momis responded to statements late last week that Mr O'Neill had deliberately decided the Autonomous Bougainville Government should not be the majority shareholder in Bougainville Copper Ltd.

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

Mr O'Neill had given shares gifted to his government by Rio Tinto to the landowners in the zone around the company's Panguna mine.

In a letter to the PNG leader, Mr Momis said this suggests Mr O'Neill thinks he knows better than the ABG about Bougainville's mining needs.

But he said under the Bougainville Peace Agreement responsibility for mining rests solely with the ABG and the best deal for the landowners would be what they garner through the Bougainville Mining Law.

Under the ABG system the landowners must be satisfied with conditions and benefits before a project proceeds and the 17.4 percent BCL equity offered by Mr O'Neill would not give them any control over decision-making.

Mr Momis asked Mr O'Neill whether he fears that ABG control of the Panguna mine could provide the revenue needed for Bougainville independence.

But he said interfering in mining issues only causes deep anger in Bougainville and is likely to increase support for independence.

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