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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 8) - A landowner company in Papua New Guinea’s Western Province paid PGK7 million [US$2 million] in dividends to 10 of its shareholding villages after experiencing a healthy turnover this year.

[PIR editor’s note: Western Province borders West Papua to the west and West Sepik to the north.]

Mineral Resources Star Mountains (MRSM), which holds 2.5 percent interest in the Ok Tedi Mining Limited, paid out the dividends after holding an annual general meeting after 10 years

A change in the management of Mineral Resource Development Company Ltd (MRDC) in 2005 coupled with the favorable financial period from Ok Tedi Mining Limited has contributed to the profitable results for MRSM in the last three years. The shareholding villages are Wangbin, Bultem, Finalbin, Kavorabip, Atemkit, Migalsim, Ok Teditau, Nioksikwi, Ankit and Kumkit. The payout followed the first general meeting held since the establishment of MRSM in 1997 between MRDC as managers of the funds and the shareholders. The PGK7 million was the final payment of the 2006 total dividend of PGK10 million [US$3.6 million]. Last year MRSM paid an interim dividend of PGK3 million to its shareholders.

MRDC commercial manager Kible Bonga said the success of MRSM was due to a number of investments in overseas and domestic shares as well as properties that had resulted in the healthy growth of the landowners’ company.

He said that currently 90 percent of the income was derived from its equity in the Ok Tedi project, adding this had to be changed before OTML closed its current mine operations in 2013.

Mr Bonga said the management with the MRSM directors had plans and were working to turn that around so that 90 percent of income was generated by the MRSM investments.

MRDC finance and treasury manager Lausi Meraveka said MRSM was worth K6.6 million from its humble beginning in 1997. He said from 2001 onwards, the company experienced a steep climb as a result of more dividends being paid to the company because of the good financial results from OTML. Mr Meraveka assured the shareholders of MRSM that their company was now worth PGK93.3 million in net assets. Meanwhile chairman of the MRSM board of directors Bill Menim said the company was profitable because of the hard work of the management looking into all possible investment opportunities that would bring favorable results.

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