Firm transfers BCL shares

The National,Friday July 1st, 2016

THE global mining company Rio Tinto announced yesterday it has transferred its 53.8 per cent shareholding in the Bougainville Copper Limited to an independent trustee.
Rio Tinto in a statement yesterday said the Equity Trustees Limited would manage the distribution of these shares between the Autonomous Bougainville Government, for the benefit of all Panguna landowners and people of Bougainville, and the Papua New Guinea Government.
Under the trust deed, the ABG has the opportunity to receive 68 per cent of Rio Tinto’s shareholding (which equates to 36.4 per cent of BCL’s shares) from the independent trustee for no consideration.
The Papua New Guinea Government is entitled to the remaining 32 per cent (which equates to 17.4 per cent of BCL’s shares).
ABG and PNG would both hold an equal share in Bougainville Copper Limited of 36.4 per cent if the transfers are completed.
This will ensure both parties are equally involved in any consideration and decision-making around the future of the Panguna mine.
Rio Tinto Copper and Coal chief executive Chris Salisbury said: “Our review looked at a broad range of options and by distributing our shares in this way we aim to provide landowners, those closest to the mine, and all the people of Bougainville a greater say in the future of Panguna.
“The ultimate distribution of our shares also provides a platform for the ABG and PNG Government to work together on future options for the resource.”
In accordance with existing management agreement with BCL, Rio Tinto would give the required six months’ notice to terminate the arrangement.
Although Rio Tinto would no longer hold any interest in BCL, the company would continue to meet its obligations under the agreement during that period to ensure an orderly transition in the shareholdings of the company.
Bougainville Copper Limited chairman Peter Taylor will resign with immediate effect but will continue to be available to provide services to the board during this transition period.