The Autonomous Bougainville Government will challenge Rio Tinto in the international courts, for failing to address the serious mine legacy issues of environmental damage, social disruption and detrimental health problems.
President, Chief John Momis, exclusively told EMTV News that Rio Tinto has contradicted their own policy, as members of the International Commission of Mining and Minerals Association.
“[They have] contradicted their own policy, which they now subscribe to, as members of the International Commission of Mining and Minerals Association.
“We have written to them advising them that Rio Tinto has breached their own policy, which they developed, also subsequent to the Panguna Mine operations,” Momis said.
The Autonomous Bougainville Government say it was a bold decision for Rio Tinto to hand over the 53.8 per cent in shares.
Offloading shares to the national government, Momis says, was unjust because this would make them equal shareholders.
“People of Bougainville were the first once to tell them in 1968, that this law was unjust, unethical, immoral.
“Even though it’s legal, this gives them no excuse to leave without addressing the mine legacy issues,” he said.
Bougainville has its own mining law that gives power to resource owners as legitimate.
Momis says every issue concerning the Panguna Mine and Bougainville Copper Limited shares must be discussed in a win-win deal because they were deeply sensitive and could endanger peace.
“If the national government doesn’t accept our proposal, then it could become a lose-lose deal. Because we then could invoke,the provision in the Bougainville Mining Law to stop Bougainville Copper to operate in Bougainville,” Momis said.
He added that mining share deals should not be conspired by, as all must abide by the spirit of the mining law.
This similar issue was also raised in parliament last week, by opposition member and Rabaul MP, Dr. Allan Marat.
“Does the national government tend to retain majority shares in the Panguna Mine?” he questioned.