Can investors take Bougainville Copper Limited seriously?

There is a saying investors in Bougainville Copper Limited should heed, ‘fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me’.

Unfortunately whoever penned this phrase, never thought of what to say when it gets to fool me three times!

Over the past three years, BCL has assured investors that landowner hearts in Panguna are gradually warming to the company, despite BCL’s well documented role in assisting a war machine that bombed, executed and tortured civilians. 

According to BCL, this cooling of tensions in Panguna lays the ground for Bel Kol, a reconciliation ceremony that will evidently mend bridges between the company and landowners.  

Here is what BCL told investors in its 2013 Annual Report:  

This historic and sensitive [Bel Kol] ceremony, long discussed and unfortunately somewhat delayed by various factors, aims at bringing reconciliation between Bougainville Copper, landowners, ABG, ex-combatants and community leaders. Bel Kol is proposed to be held at Arawa, and may be conducted during the month of May [2014]’. 

BCL’s motive for participating in the ceremony is set out with disarming frankness: 

‘After the Bel Kol ceremonies, in which company management will participate, three conflict memorials will be erected. In return, Bougainville Copper has asked for open access to Panguna and the Special Mining Leases, assurances of safety, and a written invitation to establish an office in Arawa as a base for the field work, baseline studies and social mapping mentioned above, and for the recruitment of local people to participate in drilling and other evaluation and de-risking programs’.

So did Bel Kol take place in May 2014 as predicted? Nope!

Fast forward to the 2014 Annual Report. In this yearly update BCL suggests Bel Kol will take place some time in 2015: 

‘A Bel Kol ceremony with the company is at the advanced stages of planning and is expected to take place in Arawa during 2015’.

Did Bel Kol take place in 2015? Nope!

Fast forward to BCL’s 2015 Annual Report [pdf file]. Have a guess what they tell investors! 

Cue the drumroll. Here it is:

‘Planning of a Bel Kol event, a customary Bougainvillean process to be held between the company and the people of Bougainville, was further postponed to allow additional time for stakeholder engagement and alignment. Bel Kol is now planned to be held in 2016’.

None of these delays are surprising, landowners have frequently, loudly expressed their strong opposition to BCL’s return – over and over again. Having your home torched and family beaten by troops in BCL trucks, lingers long in people’s memory. 

Yet, BCL seems confident its investors lack the same recall. 

Although  investors may be seeing little joy, despite the assurances of management, BCL’s illustrious Directors are doing rather well for themselves. The former PM who bombarded civilian areas in Bougainville with heavily armed troops and mobile squads, Sir Rabbie Namaliu, was awarded K150,000 in compensation as Director for the year 2014, and in 2015 he received K135,000. Dame Carol Kidu was awarded K150,000 in 2014, and K135,000 in 2015. Robert S. Burns was awarded K150,000 in 2014 and K135,000 in 2015. Last but certainly not least, Peter R. Taylor received K478,000 in 2014, and K501,000 in 2015.

We are also told, ‘in 2015 the company paid fees of K4,196,032 (2014: K5,048,151) for the provision of office space, staff and related services to Rio Tinto PNG Limited’.

While BCL management pronouncements on Bel Kol have assumed a mirage like quality, it appears executive payments are being deposited each year with much greater reliability.

7 Comments

Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

7 responses to “Can investors take Bougainville Copper Limited seriously?

  1. John Sells

    ~~~Before investing in Mining stocks in PNG check out what has happened to IDC….Corruption is rife in PNG…from the top to the Bottom..B warned.IMO.

  2. Karis

    Who among locals is going to buy a few shares and then turn up at shareholders’ meetings to protest loudly? Preferably several.

    • John sells

      Locals [as such] don’t /can’t afford to buy shares,,,shares are held and bought by non-PNG people,,hoping that they will get a return on their investment!!All we see are poverty stricken landholders and huge ,fat,ministers/politicians,,,,,as in Malaysia and elsewhere,,,afew getting very wealthy at xpense of the populations..

      • Karis

        Sometimes people who want to tell shareholders what is going on buy a few shares so they can legally turn up at meetings. If they are banned they send a proxy.

  3. Perhaps those who care should be aware that:
    The annual general meeting for Rio Tinto plc will be held in London on 14 April 2016.
    The annual general meeting for Rio Tinto Limited will be held in Brisbane on 05 May 2016.
    Of course, No news yet about BCL holding its annual general meeting in Port Moresby.

  4. Just found out that Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) will have the Annual General Meeting at the Grand Papua Hotel in Port Moreby, Papua New Guinea, on Wednesday 1 June 2016 at 2pm.

    Bougainville Coppper Limited has released the 2015 Annual Report which contains the full financial statements for 2015 along with the annual appendix 4G statement – Key to Disclosures Corporate Governance Council Principles and Recommendations.

    Download report at http://www.bcl.com.pg/1204-2/

  5. terry quin

    the people o bouganville must find a medium or person outside png that can there message to the business world that you will not tolerate the mine being reopen and you will use all means in your power to stop it even starting up, share holder do not care what happens to the grassroot people on bouganville, they do care about loosing there money if the mine does not operate.

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