Radio New Zealand
Landowners around the site of the Panguna mine in central Bougainville are to meet with President John Momis this Friday to discuss the shares from Rio Tinto.
Rio has given away its shares in the operator of the Panguna mine, Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL).
The bulk has gone to the Autonomous Bougainville Government [ABG] and the balance to the Papua New Guinea government but Prime Minister Peter O’Neill sparked controversy by regifting them to the landowners at Panguna.
That move sparked a war of words among the political leaders but the chairperson of the Arawa/Siokatei/Loloho landowning group, Therese Jaintong said the landowners are yet to talk about the share issue.
“For me, I really want to see, to ask landowners and the governments of Papua New Guinea and the ABG to really be talking together but the good thing is we will be meeting with President Momis on the 26th of this month in Buka. So we are preparing the landowners to speak with the President and come up with our positions I suppose. I don’t know yet.”
Mr Momis said the move threatened the peace process and his government could pull BCL’s exploration licence making the shares worthless.
In response the Papua New Guinea Prime Minsiter, Peter O’Neill said Mr Momis was trying to manipulate the peace process for political gain and warned him not to play politics over the shares.