ABG, State leaders’ actions over BCL shares irks landowner

The National, Tuesday July 19th, 2016

THE national and Bougainville government leaders have been accused of  betraying the trust of Bougainville people by “lying” over the transfer of Bougainville Copper Limited shares.
Leader of the Meekamui Council of Chiefs and chief of the Panguna Mine landowners, Chris Uma said he remembered O’Neill’s statement about the Government having no interest in the mine.
He said however, with the current issue of Rio Tinto’s decision to transfer BCL shares, Uma has questioned why the Government had decided to go back on its word and entertain Rio Tinto’s offer.
He said the people of Bougainville deserved an explanation from the Petroleum and Energy Minister Ben Micah on how he was going to open and operate the mine.
Uma said ABG President John Momis, since being re-elected, was determined to reopen the mine despite being advised against it.
“Despite our advice against his determination to reopen the mine, he solicited funding from Rio Tinto to conduct a customary feast under the supervision of ABG.
His action is totally against the Bougainville custom,” Uma said.
Uma said he was made aware of the presence of a Rio Tinto executive in Buka when Momis tabled the bill to lift the moratorium on mining in Bougainville.
He is asking Momis to tell the Bougainville people including the ex-combatants, the truth on how he, along with his AusAID plan of action, will open the mine.
“I urge the leaders not to fall for the free shares as no foreign multinational organisation in the world gives a free meal.
“The four letter word (free) should trigger alarm bells.”
Uma said the committee he set up had four terms of reference.