President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville John Momis is demanding clarity from Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and mining giant Rio Tinto on any dealings they have over the shares of Bougainville Copper Limited.
President Momis says he has unconfirmed reports that the PNG Government is in the process of buying the 53% shares that Rio Tinto has in BCL.
Momis says any secret dealing between the two parties is seen as a repeat of the dealings between the Australian colonial administration and Rio Tinto in the 1960s. He says, this can be seen to undermine and even destroy support for the Bougainville Peace Agreement.
President Momis says the newly enacted ABG mining Act has conditions that prevent such dealings. Section 112 states that any mining deals of more than 25% shares of any company holding an exploration license can mean withdrawal of the license.
President Momis says he has raised this issue with Prime Minister O’Neill in December 2014 and has received confirmation from O’Neill that there are no deals. However, the response from Rio Tinto did not confirm nor deny any dealings.