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Minister Osioco responds to misleading social media statements

ABG Minister for Mineral and Energy Resources Hon. Rodney Osioco says that the Autonomous Bougainville Government is not party to any MOU’s signed by landowner groups, to award any form of mineral licence to Nik Zuks, BCL, RTG or any other foreign investor over Panguna.

Minister Osioco made this statement in light of allegations on social media made regarding Nik Zuks having been granted a mineral license to operate in Bougainville.

“Zuks has no licenced mineral project in Bougainville under his name and/or his company Wyndale,” Minister Osioco clarified.

Minister Osioco also clarified that the Inward Investment processes under the Bougainville Inward Investment Act for approval of investors is independent of the processes for application and approval of mineral licences under the Bougainville Mining Act 2015.

He said the Inward Investment law is administered by the ABG Department of Commerce, Trade, and Economic Development with the Vice-President Hon. Patrick Nisira being the responsible Minister, while the Bougainville Mining law is administered by the ABG Department of Mineral and Energy Resources with him as the responsible Minister.

“Obtaining approvals from Inward Investment to conduct business in Bougainville does not guarantee an investor a mineral licence under the mining act. We have our own independent due diligence processes for approval of mineral projects”, Osioco stressed.

He further added that any ABG plans or approaches to Panguna issues and redevelopment plans under the Toroama-Nisira Government have and always will be transparent and in consultation with the Panguna landowners through their representatives.

“A way forward with regards to a “preferred investor” will be determined in consultation with landowners,” Minister Osioco affirmed.

Minister Osioco warned those that continue to intentionally make statements against the ABG that create false and misleading impressions to refrain from such activities.

“It is disappointing that our own people continue to disseminate unsubstantiated information that tarnish the ABG’s reputation, create divisions, and become impediments to government plans. It is even more disappointing when our own people are doing so to promote the interests of foreign investor parties that they are aligned to.”

“This type of anti-government behavior continues to hinder progress on Bougainville’s economic development. Making false and misleading statements is a crime. We are aware of certain individuals that have continuously falsely attacked the ABG and misled the population. If this continues we will lodge formal complaints under cybercrime laws against individuals and social media page administrators,” Osioco said.

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