Category Archives: Papua New Guinea

Autonomous Bougainville Government must denounce threats against mine landowners

Dansi Oearupeu

In 2013, ABG President John Momis assured Rio Tinto communities in the mine area supported the company’s return. Whether he believe this was actually true or not is anyone’s guess, but at least Momis was confident that the ABG, with help from the AusAID sales team, could win the communities over. The subsequent pitches have gone down like lead balloon, and the President is no closer to realising his vision, which may turn out to be a mirage.

Now a customary pincer-move is being used, or as they call it in the Hollywood films, good-cop, bad-cop. The good-cop is Lawrence Daveona and his utterly discredited and deeply unpopular landowners’ association. They are going around telling village people that BCL have agreed to pay bel kol – a traditional form of compensation. But they haven’t, not really. There is no admission of guilt on BCL’s part for the killing of thousands of innocent people. And the offer of K450,000 is an insult.

So the good cop routine is failing. Enter bad cop. ABG representatives are telling citizens that ‘the Panguna mine … [is] now owned by the people of Bougainville and not just the landowners as blood was spilled for this piece of land and these fighters must be compensated for the part they played to protect Panguna’.

In its haste to reopen the mine, the ABG is lighting a fire that may soon burn out of control. Threats are circulating, by a loud minority, that the people of Panguna must reopen the mine and pay compensation to the rest of Bougainville, or they will suffer the consequences.

But the ABG’s view, which this loud minority mimics, makes no sense. The war began, as they acknowledge, over the right of communities to protect their soil, and the birth right of future generations, from being vandalised by foreign corporations out to enrich their shareholders. It was also a war to liberate Bougainville from the casino mentality of Waigani, which sees bloated politicians place the nation’s natural resources on the roulette wheel so they can make a few million, while the foreigners take the rest; with barely a trickle making it through to the silent majority.

The ABG is now suggesting we honour the blood of those who fought for these two causes, by turning Bougainville into a casino, and vandalising the land and environment.

It would be laughable, were the ABG not playing such a dangerous game. If this blood-debt fiction starts to circulate, and communities outside the mine area feel they have been betrayed by the people of Panguna, things could get nasty, very quickly. The President needs to put a stop to this blood-debt talk by opposing it, loudly – otherwise, the loud minority will take his silence as approval.

He must tell his people, that if the landowners do not want the mine, this is a dignity and a right won through the spilling of blood, and it is one that the ABG will uphold as the custodian of the peace agreement and constitution. If it fails in this act, it is a government without legitimacy.

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The robot is ready – so when will deep sea mining start?

Stephen Eisenhammer and Silvia Antonioli | Reuters

Employees of Soil Machine Dynamics (SMD) work on a subsea mining machine being built for Nautilus Minerals at Wallsend, northern England April 14, 2014.

Employees of Soil Machine Dynamics (SMD) work on a subsea mining machine being built for Nautilus Minerals at Wallsend, northern England April 14, 2014. Credit: Reuters/Nigel Roddis 

The world’s first deep sea mining robot sits idle on a British factory floor, waiting to claw up high grade copper and gold from the seabed off Papua New Guinea (PNG) – when a wrangle over terms is solved.

Beyond PNG, in international waters, regulation and royalty terms for mining the planet’s subsea wealth have also yet to be finalized. The world waits for the judgment of a United Nations agency based in Jamaica.

“If we can take care of the environment we have a brand new day ahead of us. The marine area beyond national jurisdiction is 50 percent of the Ocean,” said Nii Odunton, secretary general of the U.N.’s International Seabed Authority (ISA).

“I believe the grades look good, the abundance looks good, I believe that money will be made,” Odunton said from the ISA offices in Kingston.

High-tech advances, depleted easy-to-reach minerals onshore and historically high prices have boosted the idea of mining offshore, where metals can be fifteen times the quality of land deposits.

In Newcastle, the “beasty”, as engineer Keith Franklin calls his machine, lies in wait, resembling a submersible tank with four meter wide cutting blades.

Built by Soil Machine Dynamics (SMD), it will put Canadian listed Nautilus Minerals on course to become the first company to commercially mine in deep water.

Nautilus’ primary resource, Solwara 1, about 1,500 meters underwater, is a Seafloor Massive Sulphide (SMS) deposit, which forms along hydrothermal vents where mineral-rich fluids spurt from cracks in the ocean crust.

Equipped with cameras and 3D sonar sensors the robot is driven by two pilots from a control room on the vessel above, attached via a giant power cable.

“The cameras aren’t enough by themselves because the machine will be working by vents where black soot spurts from the ocean crust and it will sometimes be near impossible to see anything,” said Stef Kapusniak, business development manager for mining at SMD. “The 3D sonar will allow it to make images and send it back to the control room.”

The machine then cuts up the sea floor and sucks the rocks through a pipe to deposit it in mounds behind – “like icing a cake,” Kapusniak said. Another machine, yet to be built, will then help suck the ore to the surface.

Nautilus aims to produce 80,000-100,000 metric tons of copper and 100,000-200,000 ounces of gold – equivalent to a modest onshore mine. It was supposed to be producing by now, but disagreements with the PNG government over financial terms have set it back.

Chief Executive Mike Johnston told Reuters he was confident a resolution would be sorted out and the company would be mining within two to three years.

Most of the world’s best deposits lie even deeper than Nautilus’ Solwara 1, at around 6,000 meters in an area known as the Clarion Clipperton Zone.

Large numbers of manganese nodules – potato sized rocks rich in copper, cobalt and nickel – lie across this 4.5 million square kilometer abyssal plain between Hawaii and Mexico.

LICENSES ALREADY AWARDED

The U.N.’s ISA is drawing up a code to deal with some environmental concerns and the commercial terms for deep-sea mining. It predicts it will be finished in around two or three years, with mining still 5-10 years away.

“It’s only after the code is in place and people are happy with it that the huge investments needed to start deep-sea mining will occur,” ISA’s Odunton, a Ghanaian, said.

ISA is, however, already doling out exploration licenses – 19 have been approved. Odunton said interest in them had “catapulted” in the past five years.

In order to get a license through ISA an applicant must be sponsored or partnered with a country. For nations like Japan which lack their own resource wealth, deep-sea mining is a potential way to secure mineral supply for the future.

China, the world’s largest metals consumers, is also one of the most active in exploring the area.

Britain has an exploration license in partnership with UK Seabed Resources, a subsidiary of defense firm Lockheed Martin

“These are the days you have to take a position, especially as a government,” said Martijn Schouten, managing director at IHC’s mining division – an equipment maker which targets seabed mining as its next growth driver.

IHC is the leading partner in an European Union funded project called Blue Mining, begun in February, and will look at the business case and technology for deep-sea mining over the next four years.

This new frontier is an exciting prospect for developing island nations like Tonga and Nauru, which both have exploration licenses. For Tonga, where Nautilus says it has been collecting encouraging exploration results, it could be a game changer.

“The revenue stream and taxes from a medium sized mine would have an enormous benefit to the country,” Nautilus’ Johnston said.

The main companies looking to mine the seabed, like Nautilus and UK Seabed Resources, are not, however, traditional mining firms, although Anglo American does have a 5 percent stake in the former.

IHC said most of its contracts were with technology-based companies that were not in the mining industry, although it would not specify further due to confidentiality clauses.

IHC said it has had discussions with oil majors who are beginning to show an interest in deep sea mining.

But, with little of the deep ocean mapped or explored, environmentalists worry about the potential loss of fauna and biospheres whose existence is not yet understood.

“Only 3 percent of the oceans are protected and less than 1 percent of the high seas, making them some of the least protected places on earth. The emerging threat of seabed mining is an urgent wake-up call,” Greenpeace said in a report last year.

“I think we really have to be careful about what happens to the environment,” said ISA’s Odunton. “We don’t know enough to take some of the risks we’ve taken on land.”

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PNG and USA cement deal to defend Exxon-Mobil LNG project amid growing tensions

admiral_signs_acsa_agreement_500

United States and PNG Sign Agreement to Strengthen Bilateral Partnership

The United States and Papua New Guinea signed an Acquisition and Cross-Servicing Agreement (ACSA). This bilateral ACSA agreement will facilitate the exchange of logistics support, supplies, and services during exercises, training, or emergencies. The ACSA agreement does not, in any way commit either country to any military action.

U.S. Pacific Command Commander U.S. Admiral Samuel J. Locklear III, Commander of the Papua New Guinean Defence Force Brigadier General Gilbert Toropo, Papua New Guinean Secretary of Defence John Porti, and U.S. Defense Attaché to Papua New Guinea Commander Scott Sherard signed the agreement at Murray Barracks on April 15.

During the signing, Admiral Locklear said that although PNG’s defense forces “are small, they are doing significant things; they are involved in UN support and peacekeeping operations in Darfur [demonstrating] an outward look to the rest of the world with the values of democracy and the values of humanity.”

An ACSA provides the basic framework for cooperation in military logistic matters. The overall purpose of these agreements is to increase readiness of military partnerships by reducing the initial logistics hurdles. The United States has bilateral ACSAs with over 100 countries around the world.

During his visit to Port Moresby, Admiral Locklear met with the Governor General Sir Michael Ogio, Prime Minister Peter O’Neil, Minister of Defence Fabian Pok, Defence Secretary John Porti, and Commander Gilbert Toropo to reaffirm the strength of the United States-Papua New Guinean bilateral relationship and partnership.

The United States is a Pacific nation and it continues to rebalance its efforts to this region because of its importance, not only to its own national security, but also to the global community. The United States seeks a secure and prosperous Papua New Guinea that is able to play a positive leadership role in the Pacific Islands region.

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Exxon-Mobil brings in the troops

The level of anger and distrust over Exxon-Mobil’s LNG project is rising alarmingly in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea as local people realize they have been conned and the promised benefits from the multi-billion dollar project are never going to come. What is also rising just as fast is the number of sophisticated guns, weapons and ammunition in the hands of local tribes.

So Exxon-Mobil is preparing for the worst and bringing in the US military to help defend its operations from the sabotage and armed attacks that everyone knows are coming…

Papua New Guinea Seeks Increased US Army Presence

Bernama

Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) Prime Minister Peter O’Neill wants to increase the presence of the US military in his country.

O’Neill on Tuesday met with the United States-Pacific Naval Commander, Admiral Samuel Locklear III, to discuss the US military presence in Papua New Guinea.

In a statement O’Neill said the talks included his government’s interest in increasing the US army presence in the country. They also discussed training for PNG soldiers and US security assistance security during the 2018 Asia Pacific Economic Corporation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit in PNG.

“Admiral Locklear and I today discussed the possibility of increasing the US army presence in PNG, particularly its navy,” O’Neill said, adding that there will also be a training arrangement, where PNG soldiers will be trained by the US army, to aid capacity building.

“During our talks, Admiral Locklear, upon my invitation, further agreed to provide additional naval security support during the 2018 APEC Leaders’ Summit, which will be hosted here in Port Moresby,” O’Neill said.

 

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Madang government confirms Ramu nickel acid pollution

“Rain water is not safe for human consumption even from creeks and rivers”

Villagers face effects of smoke

The National aka The Loggers Times

COASTAL villages near Ramu Nickel plant site in Basamuk, Rai Coast, in Madang, are experiencing the effects of harmful smoke from the mine.

A report by Madang provincial government Director of Mines John Bivi revealed that villagers in Malalmai and Bongu had noticed thick fumes and smelt acid.

Taro plant damaged by the gas

Taro plant damaged by the gas

The report stated that according to assessments done, plants and food crops, especially banana, taro and yam leaves, had withered because of the effects of the acid.

Villagers along the Rai Coast have complained of skin diseases.  But Bivi said they would have to be medically tested to confirm the cause.

“Rain water is not safe for human consumption even from creeks and rivers,” Bivi said.

He suggested that a medical team visit Basamuk to check and treat people affected by the smoke and smell.

He urged Government bodies to continuously monitor mining activities at Ramu Nickel project sites at Kurumbukari and Basamuk.

No comment could be obtained from the mine project owners.

He said the court order on the deep sea tailings placement  (DSTP) required a quarterly monitoring and awareness programme every year and that was not done in last quarter of 2013 and the first quarter of

He said the Government must set up an Office in Basamuk to monitor and assess the harmful smoke.

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Highlands Pacific: Glencore PNG option terminated

Mining Business

Highlands terminated Glencore Xstrata’s option over a prospective copper-gold exploration tenement in PNG’s Star Mountains, a day after it missed the deadline to exercise the 10-year-old option.

With 100% ownership of the Nong River project, Highlands plans to advance talks with new partners to advance a package of leases near the Ok Tedi mine.

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Canadian envoy visits Pogera gold mine

Post Courier

image001Canadian High Commission counselor and senior trade commissioner Mike Lazaruk now has a better understanding about the operations at the Porgera gold mine following a two-day visit.

He recently visited the Porgera gold mine, which is Canadian-based Barrick Gold Corporation’s biggest investment in PNG in the company of Canadian envoy to the Pacific Island Countries (PIC) Michael Small.

“We certainly came away with a better understanding of the environment within which you operate, the challenges that you face and the programs that you have in place to engage with and support the surrounding communities,” Mr Lazaruk commented after returning to Canbera, Australia.

Their visit included meeting with the Porgera mine management, community leaders from the special mining lease and lease for mining purposes areas, Porgera community and the local level government representatives, NGO advocates Akali Tange Association and Porgera Alliance, Porgera Development Authority, District administration, local businesses and institutional leaders.

High Commissioner to the PIC Mr Small, during the visit said it was a good idea to go to the mine and get a sense of the operation, environmental issues, social issues, local communities concerns, how they see the valley changing and develop with the presence of Barrick.

The high commissioner with Barrick country executive director Dr Ila Temu also visited two mine villages, Kulapi and Panandaka, to see the water supply project initiated by the Barrick community relations department.

They also toured the mine operation including the open pit tour and visit to the Kogai rehabilitation site where Barrick Porgera was putting efforts towards land reclamation. This is apart from presentations by the Porgera leadership team (PTL) led by executive general manager (PNG) Greg Walker.

Mr Lazaruk said they were very appreciative of Porgera’s hospitality and described their trip as a memorable one.

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Stop thinking of Ramu-Nico as an Asian company – says PNG Oreo Cookie

Bismarck Ramu Group

oreoI recall as a young student reading about Black Americans. As they were fighting for their rights in the USA some of them would sell out to the whites and tell their own black brothers & sisters to , in reality, obey their white masters. These black sell outs were called Oreo Cookies. Oreo cookies have white cream between two chocolate biscuits. Thus a black person being called an oreo was because they were black on the outside but white inside.  We have the cookies here in PNG.

We also have the other Oreos here – plenty. Those who sell our people, land, resources out to outsider. Oh yes they look like PNGeans on the outside, but on the inside they don’t care about their people – not really.

We tried to find a cookie with yellow on the inside  (ie: Chinese) surrounded by two chocolate biscuits but couldn’t find any. So until we find one such cookie we’ll refer to those like Jeffers Teargun Heptol as a PNG grown Oreo cookie.

So the WORLD CLASS Ramu Nickel Mine is so desperate and think PNGeans are so stupid they bring in an Oreo Cookie, who has lived 10 years in Kong Land to TELL THE PEOPLE of ALL the wonderful things and GREAT POTENTIAL of the Ramu Nico Mine. Oreo Heptol goes on about great potential to provide tangible benefits. Oh yea Jeffers – like what? Who the hell do you think is going to buy this bullshit?

He goes on to say “our people (see everyone he IS one of us) have the perception that MCC-Ramu Nico is an Asian company. OH YES HE DID EVERYONE! That’s what the Oreo said. Now he continues -this should explain things (NOT!) “They must be in it with Ramu Ncio and work closely with the company.” Huh!!!! Must be in it!

Oreo Hepto said he knew WELL how the Chinese people operated (OBVIOUSLY Mr. Hepto!) their culture and language. Then he tried to impress us by ONCE AGAIN using the same Chinese word all the Oreos bring back – Guanxi. The kong word for relationship. Now Oreo Hepto you have probably forgotten after ten years in kongville, but we PNGeans know a bit about realtionships. Our entire cultures were built on them. They are the centre of what it is to be Melanesian. You’ve obviously forgotten or believe the nonsense about us being backwards or kanakas or whatever they are filling your head with.

Oreo Hepto ends the sorry ass talk with this – ready??? “Leaders should divert their perception of MCC being a Chinese company and shift the paradigm and work with MCC-Ramu NiCo”. In other words. In other words the kongs got the Oreo to try to make us believe that stop thinking of the Chinese as money hungry people who treat our people like shit and have no respect for anything unless they can proposer financially.

Right Mr. Hepto – right. Go enjoy your noodles Oreo.

Below is the article published in the Rimbunan Hijau owned Daily Log (Aka The National) newspaper – And you all thought we made this stuff up!!!!! Nope can’t make nonsense like this up friends.

Leaders urged to work with mine firm
Source: The National, Monday April 14th, 2014
MADANG leaders should work closely with owners of the Ramu NiCo project to benefit the people, Jeffers Teargun Heptol says.
Heptol is a PNG citizen who has been living in China for 10 years.
He said the project had great potential to provide tangible benefits to the people in the province, especially in the under-developed Rai Coast and Usino-Bundi districts, where the project’s refinery and mine sites were located.
The project covers three-quarters of the Madang landmass, including Usino-Bundi, Rai Coast and Madang.
He said provincial leaders should use the opportunity to generate more development.
“Our people have the perception that MCC-Ramu NiCo is an Asian company and the leaders must get themselves out of that thinking,” he said.
“They must be in it with Ramu NiCo and work closely with the company,” Heptol said.
Heptol said he knew well how the Chinese people operated, their culture and language.
He said the Chinese were always looking at “Guanxi” (relationship) which local leaders must embrace to reap more benefits.
“Leaders should divert their perception of MCC being a Chinese company and shift the paradigm and work with MCC-Ramu NiCo,” he said.

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Amnesty reveals UK govt helped Rio Tinto avoid culpability for Bougainville deaths

The documents that show the UK Government caved in to corporate lobbying

Amnesty International

one of our

Niger Delta campaign poster highlighting the damage Shell has done in the region. © Amnesty International

Are there any principles that the UK government is willing to stand up for in the face of business lobbying? Apparently not, if documents released through a Freedom of Information request are anything to go by.

These show, in detail, how the UK intervened to support Shell and Rio Tinto in high-profile US human rights court cases, following requests from the companies.

The documents, obtained by the Corporate Responsibility Coalition (of which we’re a part), relate to the UK government’s intervention in two cases: Kiobel-v-Shell and Sarei-v-Rio Tinto.

The Kiobel case was brought against the oil giant by communities from the Niger Delta, who accused Shell of helping the Nigerian military to systematically torture and kill environmentalists in the 1990s.

Sarei-v-Rio Tinto was a long-running case relating to alleged human rights abuses at the company’s Panguna copper mine on the island of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea. It’s alleged that Rio Tinto racially discriminated against black mine workers, harmed the island’s environment and its residents’ health, and was complicit in war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the army.

The US Supreme court halted the case against Shell a year ago, accepting the arguments from both Shell and the UK Government that cases of this kind shouldn’t be taken in the US. A lower US appeals court then followed that decision to dismiss Sarei-v-Rio Tinto.

The UK government has effectively supported the corporations in ducking out of scrutiny in the US courts. Why would the government want to prevent UK companies from being held accountable in the US courts for complicity in human rights violations as serious as torture and murder?

‘both BIS [Department of Business, Innovation and Skills] and CEDD [Commercial and Economic Diplomacy Department at the FCO] believe that the prosperity and potentially significant commercial considerations in this case weigh in favour of the UK submitting an amicus brief.’
FOI request page 52

The Freedom of Information request shows the Government was well aware that its intervention would be seen as inconsistent with its approach to human rights. It knew that these cases are exceptional and relate only to the most serious corporate abuses. It was aware of the reputational consequences, and that Amnesty and other human rights groups would be outraged when we found out – but still, they decided to pursue this course of action.

‘Supporters of the action against Shell (including NGOs and the media, as well as the plaintiffs) will likely argue that the courts and human rights legislation of Nigeria are inadequate to deal with a case of this nature, and the US ATS [Alien Tort Statute] is the only practical form of redress for the victims.

‘By submitting an amicus curiae brief HMG would be acting to seek a result that will close a possible remedy for victims of alleged human rights abuse.’
FOI request page 53

What is particularly galling about the UK government’s approach is that ministers and officials with a human rights brief were unwilling or unable to hold their ground. There was no meaningful consideration of the enormous consequences for victims of corporate abuses around the world who would be denied the possibility of justice through the US courts.

Even the government’s belief that it was acting to protect UK business interests was based on conjecture rather than evidence.

It’s ironic, if not deliberately hypocritical, that these interventions happened within a year of the UK endorsing the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights at the UN. A key recommendation of the UN Guiding Principles (also known as the Ruggie Principles) is that victims of business-related human rights abuses should be able to take businesses to court to seek justice and compensation. The UK should be actively promoting the rights of the claimants in the Shell and Rio Tinto cases, not restricting their ‘right to remedy’.

‘HRDD [Human Rights and Democracy Department at the FCO] is concerned that actively intervening would damage everything the Government is doing to show that good business achievement and good corporate human right behaviour are compatible with each other. Submission of a UK brief effectively defending the corporate position in this case will be perceived as inconsistent with our position on the UN Guiding Priciples… of which the UK was a key supporter during their five years gestation.’
FOI request page 52

When two Secretaries of State – William Hague and Vince Cable – launched the UK’s plan to implement the Guiding Principles in September 2013, this sent political signals that the UK was getting serious about business and human rights.

The plan pledges that the UK government will provide ‘help to States wishing to develop their human rights protection mechanisms and reduce barriers to remedy within their jurisdiction’, yet the UK’s intervention in Kiobel-v-Shell has had the opposite effect.

In putting British business interests before human rights concerns regardless of context and consequences, the UK government is acting above the law and in breach of its international commitments. When it does so at the request of UK companies facing lawsuits for the most serious of international crimes, our government demonstrates the extent to which it has been captured by corporate lobbyists.

The precedent set by the US Supreme Court’s judgement means that companies all over the world can now abuse human rights with a greater sense of impunity, knowing that an important avenue of redress through the US courts has been closed to their victims.

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Panguna miner plans big reconcilliation

David Lornie | Post Courier

MINING company Bougainville Copper Limited [Rio Tinto] is planning a big bel kol reconciliation ceremony in Arawa, Central Bougainville this year.

The ceremony, in local dialect called domang mita, is expected to include up to 3000 people.

It will be a landmark event for both the autonomus island province and the company.

The ceremony is an important step in BCL’s publicly stated goal to re-open the rich Panguna copper and gold mine in Central Bougainville.

The mine ignited a ten-year bloody war in 1989 which quickly evolved into a secessionist struggle against Papua New Guinea.

The effects of the war are still being felt in Bougainville.

It is recognised that the recent visit to Bougainville by PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has helped pave the way for the upcoming ‘Bel Kol’.

Preparations are well underway and the Autonomous Bougainville Government under the leadership of President John Momis is taking a major role.

A meeting was held in Buka recently between the President and some ex-combatant leaders to discuss the upcoming ceremony, though some key figures on the ground in Arawa have told this newspaper they have not yet been made aware of the event.

The ceremony will recognise that BCL and Bougainvilleans are willing to reconcile past differences and forge a new relatonship.

There will be a feast, traditional symbolic chewing of betelnut, cleansing of blood, medicinal rites by traditional healers and an exchange of gifts.

There will also be a discussion about compensation for the company’s past wrongs.

Hardliner ex-rebel army factions have said they want K10 billion in compensation from the company but in an interview with this newspaper last year, BCL boss Peter Taylor said he will need to negotiate that stance.

Whilst the PNG Government – a 19 percent shareholder of the mining company – will not be directly involved in the ‘Bel Kol’ and its organisation, they will send observers.

Also attending the ceremony will be Mr Taylor, representatives from the Australian and New Zealand Governments and other foreign interests.

At this stage the Bel Kol is expected to cost K900,000 and BCL has agreeed to contribute half of this sum. The Bougainville Government will provide the balance.

It is important to note that the cermony will not automatically lead to the re-opening of the mine. It is another step in a long process that will enable the next round of discussions to take place.

The event is not specifically designed as a forum for BCL to pay compensation, rather it is about discussing issues relating to the mine’s future, of which compensation is one.

In its recently released annual report BCL said it is pleased with progress so far in its attempts to re-establish its commercial presence in Central Bougainville.

The company hopes to open an office sometime soon in Arawa.

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