BY KEITH JACKSON
THE EUROPEAN Shareholders of Bougainville Copper (ESBC), founded in 2005, are celebrating. For the first time they hold more than 10 million shares in the company.
"We are happy about this but there is absolutely no reason to become arrogant," says ESBC President, Axel G. Sturm. "We only own a 2.5 percent of the whole company!
“But we will continue to offer our experience and influence for a better future on the island of Bougainville."
Over the last two days, a Panguna landowners’ meeting was held in Buka to speed-up the re-opening of the Panguna mine to improve Bougainville’s economy.
PNG’s Minister for Bougainville Affairs, Fidelis Semoso, himself a Bougainvillean, invited the landowners and senior PNG national government ministers including Arthur Somare, Paul Tiensten and Peter O’Neill to the meeting.
While ESBC saw the meeting as an opportunity for itself (“the ESBC appreciate very much Mr Semoso’s move towards a brighter future for all Bougainvilleans,” said Axel G Sturm), Bougainville President John Momis did not attend.
He was on business travel to China with a delegation of members of the Autonomous Bougainville Government.
In a statement from Beijing, Mr Momis said Bougainvilleans should “start thinking of animal husbandry and other agricultural projects” so “fruits and vegetables and potatoes sold to the company can be grown in Bougainville and not imported from outside.”
Meanwhile Axel G Sturm praised Mr Semoso’s initiative. “The first step is always the most difficult one.
“A round-table, as we already claimed a couple of years ago, represents the best instrument to bring the actual situation forward - to a solution from which everybody will benefit in future.”
But whether this benefit will attend to the avid ESBC backing Bougainville Cooper to make a return to the island, or whether the Chinese government will emerge on top, is very much an open question
Spotter: Kevin Johnson