Minister Ben Micah [see story below] says PM Peter O’Neill led the negotiations with Rio Tinto over its transfer of shares to the PNG and Bougainville governments.
According to Micah, both he and the PM kept Bougainville President John Momis “abreast of the discussions”.
But O’Neill “has denied making a deal with Rio Tinto” and says he did ‘not meet Rio officials in Port Moresby prior to the share divestment’
The Post Courier says the PM’s “assurances that he had not been part of a backdoor deal are backed up by the correspondence sighted by this newspaper”.
And then there is Momis. He has described previous comments by Micah over the share deal as “misleading and mischievous nonsense” and called on O’Neill to overrule his “irresponsible Minister”. That might be unlikely if what Micah says is true, and O’Neill led the negotiations over the deal!
Micah clears air on ABG equity shares
Post Courier | July 12, 2016
IN a friendly advice to Bougainville President John Momis, Petroleum and Energy Minister Ben Micah has asked him to carefully consider the offer of free equity from former Panguna mine owner Rio Tinto.
“I am telling the former priest that like the grace of God which he gave to us freely, all he has to do is accept it or reject it,” Mr Micah said when encouraging Mr Momis to professionally reason things out.
Mr Micah was responding to Mr Momis’ outburst in a media statement accusing the Minister of attempting to hold on to equity earmarked for the Autonomous Bougainville Government under State holding entities.
He said he was misrepresented in Post-Courier following comments he made in Arawa about the government’s intention of ensuring ABG equity was properly safeguarded.
“I am in agreement with Mr Momis on the apportioning for the ABG.
“The onus is now on Mr Momis and ABG on whether or not to accept Rio’s free offer.
“Credit has to go to the Prime Minister for the leadership he displayed in leading delegations to strongly negotiate with Rio Tinto which has resulted in this ongoing transfer of 53 per cent of Bougainville Copper to the ABG and the National Government through Kumul Minerals Holdings Limited.
“There has been no secret deal as Minister responsible for Kumul Minerals.
“I have been in discussions with Rio together with the Prime Minister and we have kept Mr Momis abreast of our discussions,” Mr Micah said.
Mr Micah said initially Rio Tinto was going to have the transfer as a cash transaction on the table which ABG did not have the capacity to acquire.
But he said since the shares transfer will be made free of charge, all the ABG needs to do is convey their position within the next two months.
Mr Micah said the exit of Rio Tinto and transfer of equity to Kumul Minerals and ABG on top of the 17 per cent already secured for the State placed majority control of one of the world’s biggest resource deposits in the hands of PNG and Bougainville.