Minister Osioco made this statement in light of allegations made on social media regarding Nik Zuks having been granted a mineral license to operate in Bougainville.
“Zuks has no licensed 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, 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 Minister responsible.
“Obtaining approvals from inward investment to conduct business in Bougainville does not guarantee an investor a mineral license 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.
“It is disappointing that our own people continue to disseminate unsubstantiated information that tarnishes ABG’s reputation, creates divisions and becomes an impediment 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 behaviour 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.