Tag Archives: Rio Tinto

Rio Tinto does not control BCL: Spokesperson

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PNG Loop | November 1, 2017

Rio Tinto does not still control Bougainville Copper Ltd.

In a statement refuting recent claims against the firm, a company spokesperson said:

“Rio Tinto fully exited BCL on the 30th June 2016 by transferring its 53.8 percent shareholding to an independent trustee for distribution to the ABG and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.

“The PNG Government and the ABG drew down their shareholding on the 30th June 2016 and 19th August 2016 respectively.”

The firm says Computershare Registry Services records confirm that both the ABG and state of PNG have both taken up these shares, with each holding a 36.45 percent share in BCL.

“The remaining shares in the company are owned by public shareholders.

“Further, Rio Tinto’s management services agreement with BCL was also terminated on 12th September 2016.

“As a result, BCL became an independently managed PNG company.”

Rio Tinto further states BCL’s offices are in Port Moresby and Buka and in accordance with ASX requirements, BCL has an Australian agent based in Brisbane.

The company was responding to statements by the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA).

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Filed under Papua New Guinea

BCL appoint war cabinet for new Bougainville onslaught

In the race to reopen the Panguna mine, against the will of landowners, BCL is now appointing a war cabinet.

Having already appointed Director, ‘Sir’ Rabbie Namaliu, a man who was Prime Minister when his government’s security forces committed crimes against humanity on Bougainville, BCL has now appointed two new Directors, Mel Togolo and Peter Graham.

Togolo was a provincial administrator during the crisis. He was infamous for his support for an Australian backed military blockade, that denied his own compatriots basic medicines. Togolo also worked alongside Jim Griffin an Australian government spook, responsible for intelligence analysis on Bougainville. More recently Togolo has become known for his role in deep sea mining, which threatens to inflict another environmental catastrophe on the region.

Peter Graham is the General behind ExxonMobil’s PNG LNG operation, a project that gives new meaning to pipe dreams. More recently he has acted as O’Neill’s right hand man at Ok Tedi.

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Filed under Mine construction, Papua New Guinea

The People of Bougainville have been Profoundly Misled – Official Records Show Rio Tinto Still Controls BCL

Press Release from Special Mine Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association Inc. (“SMLOLA”)
19 October 2017

  • According to IPA records; Rio Tinto still controls BCL.
  • ABG has no shares in BCL.
  • No Prior Written Consent by ABG.
  • BCL’s registered office is still Rio Tinto’s HQ in Melbourne.

The Chairman of the SMLOLA, Phillip Miriori said today that,

“Rio Tinto advised the Australian Stock Exchange on 30 June 2016, that it had transferred its 53.8% of BCL shares to a trust company for distribution to the governments of PNG and ABG, resulting in each holding 36.4% of BCL – yet they are still listed as the shareholders – what are the real facts here, is Rio actually gone or not? Once again, we are not being given all the facts yet we are being asked to consent tosupport the return of BCL. What does that actually mean, who will our partner actually be if the ABG gets their way?”

“The purported Rio Tinto transfer of 53.8% of BCL shares to the trust company did not have the legally required “prior written consent” from the ABG. In fact, as far as we have been told, the ABG was not informed in advance of the transfer. Certainly, the landowners that now own the minerals were never consulted. Most importantly, have they actually been transferred – is Rio gone or is there just a temporary step to cover up the involvement of Rio later?”

“All Bougainvilleans need to know the truth – is this just a sham? If, as the IPA records show, Rio Tinto still controls BCL with its 53.8% shareholding, we have been profoundly misled”.

“Again, we are being treated as pawns in this game: the old guard from Rio and BCL are still playing against us all and the people of Papua New Guinea. The colonialists’ time is over. They must compensate us for the wrongs of the past and leave gracefully.”

“On top of that, there is not one Bougainvillean on the Board of BCL – it is all PNG. How can this be? There are just too many unanswered questions as to who we are dealing with.”

“We were told that the Rio Chairman of BCL, Peter Taylor, would resign after “he provides services during this transition period”. Why is Taylor still listed as a consultant on BCL’s Presentation for the development of Panguna? Seems that the only answer is Rio Tinto is attempting to run the show while pretending to have left Bougainville and its responsibilities. Rest assured, I will do my best to hold them to account for the irreparable damage done by them and for which they now try to shirk all responsibility”.

“And to top it off, the Australian registered office of BCL remains Rio Tinto’s HQ in Melbourne”.

“I demand the truth finally – how can you try and force BCL on the landowners when there are so many serious questions on who BCL is, who the development partner would be? ”

“How could the ABG expect us to give the mine back to BCL. If the shares in BCL do at some point get transferred to the ABG, PNG or the landowners, how do we then sue them as we will be suing ourselves. If we let this farce continue, we will clearly be giving up our rights to compensation for the past atrocities. I will do my best to never let this happen.”

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Filed under Environmental impact, Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Rio Tinto charged with fraud by US authorities

BBC | 18 October, 2017

British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto and two of its former executives have been charged with fraud in the US, accused of hiding losses by inflating the value of African coal assets.

It bought the Mozambique assets in 2011 for $3.7bn (£2.8bn) and sold them a few years later for $50m.

The mining company has said it will “vigorously defend” the charges.

The firm was also fined £27m by UK authorities for breaching disclosure rules over the African coal purchase.

Both the US and UK actions relate to the Mozambique investment made by the mining firm six years ago.

A lawsuit filed in the US accuses Rio Tinto, its former chief executive Thomas Albanese and ex-chief financial officer Guy Elliott of failing to follow accounting standards and company policies to accurately value and record the assets.

Thomas Albanese, former chief executive of Rio Tinto

The US Securities and Exchange Commission argues that soon after the deal was completed, Rio Tinto learned that the projects would produce less coal, and of a lower quality, than expected.

“Rio Tinto’s top executives allegedly breached their disclosure obligations and corporate duties by hiding from their board, auditor, and investors the crucial fact that a multi-billion dollar transaction was a failure,” SEC Enforcement Division co-director Stephanie Avakian said in a statement.

By making misleading claims the Anglo-Australian miner – one of the world’s largest – was able to raise $5.5bn from US investors, the SEC said.

Rio Tinto said it “intends to vigorously defend itself against these allegations”.

The firm added in a statement it believes the “SEC case is unwarranted and that, when all the facts are considered by the court, or if necessary by a jury, the SEC’s claims will be rejected.”

As a result of the charges, Guy Elliott has resigned from his new job as non-executive director of oil giant Royal Dutch Shell.

In a statement, Shell said: “We hope he satisfactorily resolves those proceedings and, that in that event, he would like to be considered for rejoining the Board.”

Largest ever UK fine

The miner separately reached a settlement with UK regulators for disclosure failures tied to the Mozambique investment.

It agreed to pay the Financial Conduct Authority £27 million to settle claims that it breached accounting rules in connection with the African coal assets.

The FCA said the fine is the largest ever imposed on a firm for a listing-rules breach.

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Filed under Corruption, Financial returns

Phillip Miriori: Why Bougainvilleans are having their say – ‘No to BCL’

Bougainvilleans proudly display “No BCL Ever” T-shirts. Image: Me’ekamui

Phillip Miriori | Asia Pacific Report | 13 October 2017

As many would be aware, we Bougainvilleans have been through a tough history with the disasters that came from the past operations at Panguna, then owned by Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL).

One of the key issues that led to our civil war, when around 20,000 of our friends and family died, was the way we were treated by BCL then – entering our lands without consent, poisoning our gardens and lives, removing our mountains, inviting in the military and ignoring our views, without compensating us fairly.

Since the end of the conflict, BCL has made no effort to resolve the damage they caused to our people, lands and rivers – infact they deny any responsibility and are trying to tell us what to do again, calling us impediments when we do not agree with the rules they try and dictate.

Have they learned nothing or think we have forgotten?

We have fought hard to protect ourselves from the same thing happening again if Panguna re-opens, and the new Bougainville mining law transferred ownership of the minerals to the landowners. As a result, now nothing can happen to our minerals without our consent.

Our Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA) members are now in a position to make BCL, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the world respect our views. One of the key steps in the process of late has been our efforts to protect ourselves from the attempt to force the return of BCL without our consent.

We have had to use the Courts to ensure we are listened too and the result has been a landmark mediation process, right here on our lands at Dapera led by Justice Kandakasi.

Mediation process

The mediation process was initiated by me to try and help resolve the challenge to my leadership of the SMLOLA by Mr Lawrence Daveona, despite the fact he is not following custom in recognising my leadership position, a position I was born into.

He also wants BCL to return despite everything they have done and failed to do, which is strongly opposed by the majority of our members, as demonstrated by the petition against the return of BCL which now stands at around 2000 members saying “No to BCL”.

The mediator has now given us one more opportunity to try and resolve this among our family which I am keen to do. I firmly believe we can all unite to protect our people against the return of BCL and I promise to make every effort to do that with Mr Daveona and the ABG.

I want to work with them to ensure any redevelopment of Panguna is done properly this time and our members are protected and looked after, respected and treated equally and fairly.

The primary objective of the mediation was to try and resolve the challenge to my rightful leadership of the SMLOLA by Mr Daveona, which I firmly believe is unlawful and will take to the courts again if necessary. I am making every effort to accommodate him as unity will have a very valuable benefit for all of us and the future of Bougainville.

One of the other valuable objectives that has come from the mediation and I have committed to work on, is to more closely align our association’s constitution with our Nasioi customs, moving key decisions back to our clan system that has been our way since time immemorial. I strongly support that and encourage everyone to participate as I believe it will assist in making any benefit sharing from a future mine fairer for all.

The mediation over the past few weeks, has also given our women, the owners of our land, the opportunity to stand up and be heard. Some of them are against mining and one of my important tasks will be to work with them further as I believe Independence for Bougainville is very important and mining, if done responsibly and with people who we can trust, who will show us respect and fairness, will enable us to get there quicker.

As part of that process, in my role as the chairman of the SMLOLA and an elder to our clans, I have worked hard to attract a reputable international mining company who has both the social and environmental track record to make sure this time the mine could be developed successfully, fully integrated into our local community.

Revolutionary law

From the time the new transitional mining law was passed in 2014, I worked closely with President Momis and both Mining Ministers, Michael Oni and Robin Wilson. In fact, on the day the law was passed I was invited to meet with President Momis at the ABG Parliament to celebrate the new revolutionary Bougainville Mining Act, which uniquely, gave ownership of the land and minerals, back to the landowners to try and repair some of the mistreatment of our people in the past.

They were then opposed to the return of BCL and supportive of our efforts right through until March this year when suddenly and inexplicably something changed. They would no longer engage with us, would not explain why and started a very public campaign supporting BCL and a challenge of my leadership by Mr Daveona.

I didn’t select RTG Mining Inc. lightly, even going to a mine their management developed in the Philippines with a group of both Panguna landowners and ABG Ministers to see how they do things. In fact, the three ABG Ministers that came to see the RTG operation in Philippines expressed support for RTG.

Over time we came to develop a trust with RTG’s management and believe they will make the redevelopment of Panguna a great success, working closely with our members. They have supported the hard work we have done over the last year to defend ourselves against the illegal return of BCL.

Misled through lies

It is disappointing that some try to mislead through lies. The suggestion that improper payments were made to ABG officials is both ridiculous and untrue. They are currently working against us and strongly pushing BCL and Lawrence, rather than being impartial which is all we ask of them.

Despite the current position of the ABG, we are confident that they will eventually hear our firm views – “No to BCL!” and we remain committed to working with them to find a solution where all will win, including the ABG. We must talk openly and respectfully to find a fair solution. The law and views must be respected and we will continue to fight for that for our members.

The mediation is not a forum to make a final call on who the developer should be and if the mine should be redeveloped, which must be done in conjunction with all our members, but it has been invaluable to be able to showcase the opportunities to highlight the issues and concerns with a possible return of BCL.

In fact, BCL and the ABG have publicly admitted they cannot develop the project themselves and would have to find a partner. Who will that be, why won’t they tell us? How can someone support them when we do not even know who the actual developer will be?

I hope that the discussions at the mediation will assist Mr Daveona to understand why our people would be better off without the return of BCL. And I will continue to work with him to try and reconcile our positions so we can stand united against them and get a far better result for our people, developing a model that is win-win for the people of Bougainville and the ABG.

Phillip Miriori is chairman of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (SMLOLA), Me’ekamui Government of Unity and SMLOLA.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Rio Tinto shares in BCL not transferred to either ABG or PNG govt

On 30 June 2016 Rio Tinto announced it had transferred its 53.8 per cent shareholding in Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) to an independent trustee.

But, no share transfer documents appear in the records of the Investment Promotion Authority in Port Moresby and, 16 months after the announcement, Rio Tinto is still listed as holding 214,887,996 or 53.5% of the shares in BCL.

In its original announcement, Rio also said, Equity Trustees Limited would manage the distribution of the shares between the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea (PNG).

According to Rio, under a trust deed, the ABG had the opportunity to receive 68 per cent of Rio Tinto’s shareholding in BCL (being 36.4% of all BCL’s shares) from the independent trustee for no consideration and PNG was entitled to the remaining 32 per cent (equal to 17.4 per cent of BCL’s shares).

Rio also added, under the Trust Deed, should either beneficiary of the trust not apply for the transfer of the BCL shares attributable to them within two months, then those shares will be made available to the other party.

According to IPA records, neither the ABG or PNG government has received any transfer of the shares and neither currently has any shareholding in BCL.

Entity_Extract-BOUGAINVILLE_COPPER_LIMITED-1-1895

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Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea

ABG will be financially self-reliant if mine reopens: MP

Post Courier | October 11, 2017

The re-opening of the Panguna mine will ensure the Autonomous Region of Bougainville is financially self-reliant and able to adequately support its economy as it transits to eventual referendum.
This is according to Member for Kokoda constituency Rodney Osioco.
“The Bougainville Government (ABG) currently relies heavily on the K20 million annual grant from the national government which is insufficient to fund service delivery and developments in the region,” Mr Osioco said,
“The ABG is also owed millions in outstanding grants which the national government is obligated to provide under the Bougainville peace agreement.”
This was made known to the community government and ward representatives from the North Nasioi constituency of Kieta district during an awareness program conducted in Arawa last week by members of the House of Representatives from Central Bougainville.
Acting as the Central Bougainville leaders political bloc, the group led by Mr Osioco, is currently conducting awareness on issues surrounding the re-opening of the mine.
Mr Osioco said the revenue generated from the re-opening of the mine would be the catalyst that would boost other sectors like agriculture and tourism and prop up the economy of Bougainville if it is granted independence.
“As the referendum nears, we as your leaders, have come to create awareness and seek your views on the re-opening of the mine.
“We would like to outline to you that agriculture, tourism and other industries alone cannot support the Bougainville economy and that is why we need to re-open Panguna,” Mr Osioco said.
He said Bougainville Copper Limited was the preferred operator of the mine if it was re-opened and that the company would still be held liable for compensation and other issues which arose before the crisis.
He said the ABG was now the major shareholder of BCL owning 53.8 per cent of which 17.4 per cent belong to the landowners. The Papua New Guinea Government owns 19 per cent of BCL.
“The ABG became the major shareholder after Rio Tinto offloaded its 36 per cent stake in BCL to the ABG,” Mr Osioco said.

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Filed under Financial returns, Papua New Guinea