Rio divests shares in Bougainville Copper

Rio Tinto has given its 53.8 per cent share in Bougainville Copper (BCL) to an independent trustee, to allow Bougainville residents greater input into Panguna’s future.

Equity Trustees will manage the share distribution between the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) – to benefit Bougainvilleans and Panguna landowners – and Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Under the trust agreement, the ABG has the chance to receive 68 per cent of Rio’s shares from the trustee and PNG is entitled to the remaining 32 per cent.

If the transfers are complete, both ABG and PNG will have an equal share of 36.4 per cent in BCL, so that they are equally involved in any decisions surrounding the future of the Panguna mine.

Chris Salisbury, Rio Tinto Copper & Coal chief executive, 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.”

He went on to say the distribution of shares will also create a platform for the ABG and PNG Government to “work together on future options for the resource”.

Rio will give six months notice to terminate the arrangement with BCL chairman Peter Taylor to resign immediately.

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