PNG Minister Tells Bougainville President To Accept Rio Tinto Offer For Panguna Shares

Micah says transfer to Autonomous Government, National Government puts mine in local control

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 12, 2016) – In a friendly advice to Bougainville President John Momis, Petroleum and Energy Minister Ben Micah has asked him to carefully consider the offer of free equity from former Panguna mine owner Rio Tinto.

"I am telling the former priest that like the grace of God which he gave to us freely, all he has to do is accept it or reject it," Mr Micah said when encouraging Mr Momis to professionally reason things out.

Mr Micah was responding to Mr Momis’ outburst in a media statement accusing the Minister of attempting to hold on to equity earmarked for the Autonomous Bougainville Government under State holding entities.

He said he was misrepresented in Post-Courier following comments he made in Arawa about the government’s intention of ensuring ABG equity was properly safeguarded.

"I am in agreement with Mr Momis on the apportioning for the ABG.

"The onus is now on Mr Momis and ABG on whether or not to accept Rio’s free offer.

"Credit has to go to the Prime Minister for the leadership he displayed in leading delegations to strongly negotiate with Rio Tinto which has resulted in this ongoing transfer of 53 per cent of Bougainville Copper to the ABG and the National Government through Kumul Minerals Holdings Limited.

"There has been no secret deal as Minister responsible for Kumul Minerals.

"I have been in discussions with Rio together with the Prime Minister and we have kept Mr Momis abreast of our discussions," Mr Micah said.

Mr Micah said initially Rio Tinto was going to have the transfer as a cash transaction on the table which ABG did not have the capacity to acquire.

But he said since the shares transfer will be made free of charge, all the ABG needs to do is convey their position within the next two months.

Mr Micah said the exit of Rio Tinto and transfer of equity to Kumul Minerals and ABG on top of the 17 per cent already secured for the State placed majority control of one of the world’s biggest resource deposits in the hands of PNG and Bougainville.

PNG Post-Courier
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