Landowners back Bougainville in share battle

1:57 pm on 29 August 2016

Landowners from the Panguna area of central Bougainville have rejected the transfer of Rio Tinto shares from the Papua New Guinea Government.

Rio Tinto announced two months ago it was walking away from its majority interest in Bougainville Copper Ltd, the company behind the huge Panguna mine which was the catalyst for the region's bloody civil war.

Bougainville's Panguna Copper mine

Bougainville's Panguna Copper mine Photo: Supplied

It gave its shares to the governments of PNG and Bougainville, but PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill later announced he was giving PNG's 17.4 percent to the Panguna landowners.

Representatives from the landowners' associations, and parts of the rebel Me'ekamui group, have met in Buka with Bougainville President John Momis and Mining Minister Robin Wilson, and in a statement said they refuse to accept the shares from PNG.

They said they want them held by the ABG for the benefit of all Bougainvilleans.

The landowners also said they condemn Rio Tinto for pulling out without resolving the social and environmental issues caused by the mine and say they will back Mr Momis' efforts to have international pressure put on the mining multi-national over its actions.

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