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14 Aug 2016

Papua New Guinea: As Rio Tinto pulls out of Bougainville mine, provincial govt. opposes transfer of shares to natl. govt. & company’s refusal to take responsibility for legacy issues

In June 2016, Rio Tinto gave up its controlling interest in Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), which operated the Panguna copper and gold mine in Papua New Guinea (PNG) from 1972 to 1989, and which held an exploration license in the Panguna region.

According to the President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville (ABG), Rio Tinto’s exit involved the following decisions:

-       To transfer its shares in part to the ABG and in part to PNG, which would result in the two being equal shareholders in BCL; and

-       That it has no longer on-going responsibilities in relation to the legacy issues arising from the operation of the mine, including environmental and social impacts.

The ABG opposes both decisions, raising concerns over the dangers for the future of peace in Bougainville that an equal PNG and ABG shareholding may cause. It also said that it is unacceptable for Rio Tinto to refuse responsibility over long-term impacts of BCL’s operations.

Related articles are linked below.

We invited Rio Tinto to respond to the allegations raised in these articles. Rio Tinto’s response is provided below.