Momis wants PNG govt shares so he can reopen Panguna

O'Neill and Momis pose

Momis says the best way to get Panguna re-opened is for PNG to hand over its shares

Momis confident of winning over PNG Govt

Radio New Zealand | July 18, 2016

Bougainville’s President John Momis is still confident he can win over the Papua New Guinea Government after a walk out by mining giant Rio Tinto.

Two weeks ago Rio Tinto split its majority stake in Bougainville Copper Ltd between both governments.

This means they each have 36.4 percent of BCL, despite Bougainville’s expectation of a majority stake.

Mr Momis has written to Rio Tinto and complained to the International Council of Mining and Minerals.

He has also called a special week long session of the ABG to sit from Tuesday to discuss the matter.

Mr Momis said the best way to get the closed Panguna re-opened is for Bougainville to get majority shareholding.

“Even if Rio Tinto walks away the Bougainville Copper could go ahead with the Bel Kol (custom reconciliation) and we can have the mine re-open.”

“Outside of that they would [have a] lose/lose situation where the national government and BCL might have the majority shareholding but they will not have the right to operate in Bougainville,” he said.

Under the Bougainville Mining Act, if 25 per cent or more of shares in a company holding an exploration licence are transferred, the Bougainville Government has to start action to terminate the lease.

The transfer by Rio to the Trust means that the termination process must now begin.



Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

2 responses to “Momis wants PNG govt shares so he can reopen Panguna

  1. Pingback: Momis wants PNG govt shares so he can reopen Panguna – Jakeman's 10-20

  2. Momis wants and needs to hold Rio Tinto responsible. Momis stated on 7 July 2016:

    ‘Rio Tinto’s predecessor, Conzinc RioTinto Australia (CRA), made immense profits from operating the Panguna mine – so much so that BCL was often described as the “jewel” in the CRA crown. But in operating the mine, it was Bougainville that bore severe environmental and social costs.

    ‘Environmental damage includes the massive pit, kilometres wide and hundreds of metres deep, never remediated in any way.

    It includes the vast areas filled by billions of tons of mine tailings tipped into the Kawerong and Jaba rivers, now lifeless as a result of acid rock leaching. Fish life in the many rivers and creeks running into the two main dead rivers has also been destroyed.

    The tailings filled river valleys. The levy ban built to contain the tailings was breached more than ten years ago. Huge swamps have swallowed forest and farm land. Large dumps of chemicals are yet to be cleaned up.

    ‘Social impacts include the appalling living conditions of the thousands of people involuntarily resettled by the mine.

    ‘Rio refuses to accept any responsibility for these and the many other negative impacts that were the costs of its vast profits. In their greedy irresponsibility they now propose to walk away from Panguna without further thought about the damage that they caused.

    ‘ICMM’s website claims that by ICMM membership companies such as Tio Tinto commit to “implement and measure their performance against 10 sustainable development principles”. The ICMM says that it conducts “an annual assessment of member performance against their principles”.

    ‘ICMM Principle 3 commits Rio to “Uphold fundamental human rights and respect cultures, customs and values in dealing with employees and others who are affected by our activities”.

    This committs companies to “minimize involuntary resettlement and compensate fairly for adverse effects on the community where they cannot be avoided.”

    BCL paid the derisory compensation levels to relocated villages required in the 1970s and 1980s. But not only is it clear that these levels were far too low then, in addition, the relocated villagers suffering has continued and increased dramatically since the 1980s, with no compensation.

    And Rio plans to walk away with no thought as to their future suffering, all caused by a mine these people never wanted.

    ‘ICMM Principle 6 requires Rio to “rehabilitate land disturbed or occupied by operations in accordance with appropriate post-mining land uses’. No rehabilitation has occurred.

    ‘ICMM principle 10 requires Rio to ‘provide information [to stakeholders] that is timely, accurate and relevant, and to engage with and respond to stakeholders through open consultation processes. Rio has completely failed in these responsibilities. It has not provided any information to Bougainvillean stakeholders about its review or its plans.

    ‘Rio has advised me that it is free to ignore the damage it caused because its subsidiary (BCL) operated Panguna according to the laws of the 1970s and 1980s. It therefore does not regard itself as bound by the much higher corporate responsibility standards of today. Rio also say that BCL was closed by Bougainvilleans opposed to mining.

    ‘Bougainville rejects those argument. The corporate responsibility standards that Rio accepts today largely result from what it learned from its Bougainville experience. The war in Bougainville was not about ending mining – it was a cry for mining on just terms, similar to those that are delivered by good standards of corporate responsibility. To ignore today’s standards is hypocrisy.

    ‘In a situation of low copper prices and the likely high sovereign risk of Bougainville, it’s unlikely that Panguna will reopen for a long time. In those circumstances, Rio must have responsibilities for rehabilitation and other activities similar to those arising in a mine closure situation.’

    The President said he had asked the ICMM Chair, Mr. Andrew Michelmore, to investigate Rio’s failure to meet the mining industry standards set as conditions of ICMM membership. ‘I have asked the ICMM to required Rio Tinto to meet those standards. I have called on the ICMM to expel Rio if it fails to adhere to ICMM principles. Rio Tinto’s behaviour towards Bougainville exhibits greed and irresponsibility which the mining industry must reject.’

    John L. Momis

    President, ARoB

    7 July 2016

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