O’Neill said the Government had transferred 17.4 per cent recently given to it by Rio Tinto to the Autonomous Bougainville Government to make it 53.8 per cent for it.
Added to the 36.4 per cent given to ABG by Rio Tinto at the same time, it means that Bougainville now owns 53.8 per cent of BCL.
The Government already has a 19 per cent direct interest in BCL, while the remaining 27.2 per cent is owned by other investors.
O’Neill said the announcement would put to rest “rumours and misleading information”.
“This is a historical announcement that will affect every man, woman and child in Bougainville,” he said.
“Rio Tinto decided to transfer, on its own accord, its 53.8 per cent controlling interest in BCL to ABG and the State.
“Rio Tinto has transferred 17.4 per cent to the national government, and the remaining 36.4 per cent to the ABG without costs.
“These shares have now been transferred to the Government of Papua New Guinea, to our trustee under the Kumul Mineral Holdings Ltd.
“This was aimed by Rio Tinto to give an equal shareholding between the national government and the ABG.
“The national government already has a 19 per cent direct interest in BCL, so with the 17.4 per cent it was intended to take this to 36.4 per cent, and the transfer of 36.4 per cent direct to ABG was meant to balance the ownership of that mine so that we can continue to work together.”
O’Neill said the Government wanted to ensure that it made the right decision for the people of Bougainville.
“We are aware of the pain and torment that the people of Bougainville have gone through, and the importance of land,” he said.
“They felt very strongly that they were disempowered and they did not have participation in the mine itself.