Prime Minister Peter O’Neill announced yesterday the National Executive Council had approved the free transfer of equity in OTML following consultation with landowners and the provincial government.
He said the remaining 67 per cent of OTML was owned by people of Papua New Guinea through the State.
“This decision is fair and just, and it will be of great benefit to the people of Western province following decades of neglect,” O’Neill said in a statement yesterday.
“The people of Western Province have long suffered extensive environmental harm that has been caused by the Ok Tedi mine. “It is important that affected communities are recognised and receive compensation, while at the same time efforts continue to improve environmental practices at the mine.
“Representatives from the CMCA communities, mine villages and the Western provincial government will be holding further discussions to propose how the 33 per cent will be distributed.” O’Neill said the OTML board and management would be independent, with the State and Western together appointing three board members, while the remaining four would be independent experts, including the chairman, who must be a Papua New Guinea citizen.
“The board arrangements will be unique for any State-Owned Enterprise and this is aimed at improving governance and ensuring transparency while bringing in the world’s best practice to OTML,” O’Neill said.
“It was a different world when Ok Tedi was established, when respect for the environment and downstream health issues were not given the same level of concern as they are today.
“The unprecedented environmental harm has affected almost the whole of Western province.
“We cannot change the past but we have the opportunity to create a brighter future for the people of Western.
“The Government is committed to improving the living standards of the people of Western.
“For too long the people of Western have suffered from treatable diseases and today are facing the challenge of multi drug resistant TB. This is not acceptable.”
O’Neill said the people of Western were determined to be given possession of the substantial amount of money held by the PNG Sustainable Development Programme (PNGSDP) that was subject to an ongoing court hearing in Singapore.
“The Government wants to see the money being held by the PNGSDP returned to the people of Western. That money should be put to use to improve the living standards.”