The State and leaders representing the Western Province landowner groups approved and signed an agreement formalising the groups’ 33% ownership of the giant Ok Tedi Mine.

Prime Minister Hon Peter O’Neill congratulates CMCA Core Group Leaders Richard Zumoi as Mine SML area leader Joel Dangkim (centre) looks on after the HoA signing ceremony.

Prime Minister O’Neill and the Western Province leaders signed the Heads of Agreement (HOA) in Port Moresby late April, and in effect stamping a first in any resource development project in Papua New Guinea. Until the signing, landowners have never owned such large shares.

The signing was witnessed by representatives from the six mine area villages and the 152 villages from the Community Mine Continuation Agreement (CMCA) regions as well as reps from Mineral Resources Star Mountains and the Fly River Provincial Government. It was the culmination ofnegotiations between the landowners and the government which started in 2014.

The State also endorsed and recognised the Equity Benefit Sharing Memorandum of Agreement that was signed in Alotau in January this year. The MOA outlines the distribution of benefits from the equity interests. The MRDC will manage the 33% interest on behalf of the landowners. The next and final step will be the handover of share certificates to MROT2, MRSM and Mineral Resources CMCA Holdings Limited.

The shares will be held by the three MRDC subsidiaries in trust for the beneficiaries. Once done, OTML dividends will be paid directly to the beneficiaries through the trust companies, unlike before when the Fly River Provincial Government and the SML landowners received dividends on the basis of a direction from the Department of Treasury.

In a statement, MRDC said it was pleased to have played a pivotal role during the challenging discussion phase which has led to the approval and signing of the agreements.

The landowners thanked the O’Neill- Dion Government for keeping its word since approving the transfer of shares in 2014.