STATEMENT BY THE PANGUNA TANGKU’URANG CHAIRMAN & SPOKESPERSON
PANGUNA, Papua New Guinea, Jan. 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The purpose of this statement is in regards to Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL), an Australian Stock Exchange publicly listed company, in which the National Government holds 36.4% of its shareholdings.
It is fact that BCL operations in Bougainville were the genesis of the War in Bougainville. The reprehensible misconduct of BCL has caused immense irreparable damage to the environment of Bougainville, for which to date they have made no attempts to resolve, despite having had decades to commence rehabilitation of the environment. Nor have they considered the needs and wellbeing of the people. The only beneficiaries thus far have been the BCL Directors and their greed and total disregard for Bougainville and its people. While they seem to be living it up on exorbitant wages and ongoing benefits from the company, while we the people are living in poverty.
We have taken the view, that as a direct result of the conduct of BCL and its Directors, our country has been relegated to a third world nation, with no hope for the future for our children.
We will never allow BCL to recommence mining operations on our land, and believe that as long as BCL continues its reign of tyranny, with the latest battle being carried out in the Supreme Court, the war will never truly be over. How ironic that the Directors of BCL are using our money to fight us?! Once again, it shows their lack of concern and respect for the people.
We understand that a request has been made by former President Momis to the National Government to transfer the rightfully owned shares back to ABG and us the people. We the people of Panguna now request that the National Government transfer its 36.4% shareholding in BCL that it currently holds on trust for Bougainville and its people, to Bougainville Minerals Limited (BML) (which is the Bougainville company that currently holds 36.4% shareholdings in BCL on behalf of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the rightful landowners of Panguna).
With the continued extraordinary financial losses generated by BCL each year, we feel that the transfer of the National Government’s shares to BML is a matter of urgency, as we believe that, under its current Board and management, that there is no possibility of ever generating any income in the future. We the people of Bougainville need to reclaim our future.
It is very disappointing and disheartening that a world renowned corporation such as Rio Tinto chose to take the easy way out, wash their hands and walk away from the problems that they have created. Rio Tinto have blood on their hands, they took the money and ran. We implore Rio Tinto to accept their role in this destruction and devastation of a nation and to be accountable. It is time that they behaved respectfully and reached out to the real traditional landowners. To make amends. We welcome any opportunity to have discussions with Rio Tinto, should they wish.
We will always respect and work with the President and the ABG to ensure that independence of Bougainville will be achieved. And we are aware that financial independence of our country can only come from the re-opening of Panguna, only after a correct social mapping has been conducted to verify all the rightful clans and owners of the lands around the Panguna area.
I will not stop until I have succeeded in the reclaiming of our birthright and also deal with the injustices that have been dealt to our people and land.
Thank you, and may God be with you always and bless you abundantly.
Pangunga Tangku’urang Chairman & Spokesperson