Source: The National, Monday, April 8, 2013
By MALUM NALU
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill says the government will take ownership of the Ok Tedi mine as of January 1, 1014, but management will remain.
He made this clear at a press conference last Friday to announce a restructure of all state-owned petroleum and mining assets, and state-owned entities (SOEs).
“We will take possession of the mine,” O’Neill said.
“The mining lease has already expired on March 31 (2013).
“We have extended it to get our house in order, but the ownership of the mine will be transferred to Papua New Guinea on the first day of January, 2014.”
O’Neill said BHP Billiton gave the mine as a “gift” to the people of Western province and Papua New Guinea, however, that never was the case as BHP retained control of the mine through PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) Ltd.
“BHP gave that (mine) as a ‘gift’ to the people of Papua New Guinea and Western province, but the ‘gift’ never really happened,” he said.
“Some of us are starting to discover that now, so it’s easy if you read my article (published in the papers last week), to digest what’s the real story.
“We have made a terrible error, and I’m the first one to admit that.
“We have to correct the situation.
“I think it’s in the best interest of all Papua New Guineans that we are allowed to go down the road to take over ownership.
“We are not trying to take over management.
“I’m the first to acknowledge that I have no knowledge of running a mining company.
“The management will continue to manage, we’ve already had discussions with them, but the ownership must go to where it was intended: that was that it was intended to be a gift to the people of Papua New Guinea.
“I have never seen anywhere else in the world where a gift is controlled by someone who’s already given it.
“All we are trying to do is do the right thing.
“Whether they come to the party or not is irrelevant.”
O’Neill said pollution of the Fly River was “unacceptable”.
“This is unacceptable in any country,” he said.
“What the government should have done was to help the landowners to go and seek damages and sue BHP in a court of law that our landowners were pursuing.
“But what has happened has happened.
“I don’t want to rewrite history.”