Rio Tinto keen to reopen Panguna mine

By Malum Nalu

Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) remains committed to reopening of the controversial Bougainville copper mine, according to chairman Peter Taylor.

He reaffirmed at BCL’s annual general meeting in Port Moresby on Tuesday that the vision to return to active exploration and profitable mining remained, with active support of local stakeholders.

“We face the coming year with enthusiasm for the tasks ahead, and anticipate good progress toward the vision of reopening the mine,” Taylor said.

“We have many initiatives in place, we believe we are ready to go, we are engaged with the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and the landowners, and we recognise that to a large extent, the time table rests in their good hands.

Taylor said Prime Minister Peter O’Neill had confirmed in parliament that BCL had, by right of the Bougainville Copper Agreement (BCA), permits to operate at Panguna for a further 21 years from 2011.

“There are also encouraging indications that funding for Bougainville and the drawing down of powers to the ABG including the power to license and regulate mining will be invigorated under his government,” he said.

Taylor said several new developments had occurred which should help facilitate the re-negotiation of the BCA.

“To make things clear, the BCA is an act of the PNG national parliament, and as such, can only be modified or repealed by the parliament,” he said.

“However, it is recognised by all stakeholders including BCL, that the agreement was drawn up in times and circumstances that differ from those prevailing today, and that significant changes need to be made to accommodate the views, rights and aspirations of all stakeholders including the landowners and the people of Bougainville.

“There is widespread agreement [er, Peter, do you have any evidence for this?] today that Bougainville’s economic future needs mining if it is to be able to fund services for the people from its own resources, as well as address future opportunities for economic and social development.

“A re-commencement of mining at Panguna cannot take place unless all parties: the landowners, the ABG, the national government of PNG, and BCL, are acting in close accord, now and into the future.

“Funding and sovereign risk assurance for the project will require a united effort.

“There will need to be a fair and stable regulatory regime [fair and stable for who Peter?] that gives investors the confidence needed to commit to a project that will cost in excess of US$3 billion.”

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8 Comments

Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

8 responses to “Rio Tinto keen to reopen Panguna mine

  1. wesely

    In answer to your two questions Ramuminewatch, since you don’t have answers to your questions, may be I can help you understand a little more.

    Your first question is………

    1. Do you have any evidence that there “is widespread agreement today that Bougainville’s economic future needs mining if it is to be able to fund services for the people from its own resources, as well as address future opportunities for economic and social development.”

    That might be thought to be self evident. there are no self effulgent funds coming from Bougainville to develop its social order, commerce, economic independence, and infrastructure, nor to provide remunerated employ for the community.
    Re-opening the Panguna Mine might present such an opportunity.

    Your second question is………….
    2. For who’s benefit must there be a “…….fair and stable regulatory regime that gives investors the confidence needed to commit to a project that will cost in excess of US$3 billion.”

    Again, the answer to that second question might be deemed by most to be self evident. A fair and stable regulatory regime must take into account all stake holders interests.
    Mining is notoriously a matter of the National Interest and the benefits would clearly go to the local community as stakeholders, ind individuals, along with local/provincial government.

    I trust that helps you understand.

    • I was in Bougainville last year and heard a lot of murmurings about this. Several people in key positions there indicated that mining is seen as an immediate way to get cash flowing and improve infrastructure so that other sectors of the economy can be developed. However these same people (and some others) also indicated to me that the issues with reopening the Panguna mine were still a long way from being resolved. With all the background here, its hard to imagine this actually happening anytime soon. The complexities of managing all the various stakeholder interests without upsetting anyone do seem almost insurmountable, at least to an outside observer. Don’t forget that its not just Panguna landowners who need to be appeased but people from all over Central
      Bougainville, and the entire island even, because the impacts of mining extend far beyond the immediate vicinity of the mine. Whether the issues of the last mining venture could be avoided, and the BCL welcomed back with all the history there, is really the key point. I myself am sceptical about this being the case…

      • wesely

        You have to see this in a generational context.
        It would take years to get the full body of issues sorted and lined up.
        At a minimum, I would see 4-5 years to sort a basic frame work.
        Another 2-4 years to implement.

  2. wesely

    Ramunickel, you need to read your own post more carefully.

    “A re-commencement of mining at Panguna cannot take place unless all parties: the landowners, the ABG, the national government of PNG, and BCL, are acting in close accord, now and into the future.

    “Funding and sovereign risk assurance for the project will require a united effort.

  3. woftam

    It’s not going to happen………..
    Who in their right mind would fund $3b knowing that one bullet would stop the whole operation again……….. and the guns will always be there!

  4. wesely

    Yes,
    Bougainville is completely stuffed forever!
    The civil war has cost those people more than they can ever imagine.
    They only have themselves to blame now.
    All this postulating by the Landowners of Bougainville about compensation and what they want, as if there was anything to negotiate.
    The goose is cooked, well and truly.

  5. Riki Morsale

    Good on you Mine Watch for asking the questions to another mining jerk like Peter. Good stuff all.

  6. Pingback: Lessons from the blockade « Our Pacific Ways

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