Good to see that Australian mining magnates Gina Rinehart’s substantial stake in Fairfax media is not affecting their ‘fair and balanced’ reporting on the mining industry… although ‘fair and balanced’ in this case is double speak for sychophantic, tongue lapping, corporate brown-nosing!
Below is the latest public relations brief published on behalf of Rio Tinto in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald – with our own annotations .
Rio Tinto unit Bougainville Copper eyes return to Panguna mine in PNG
Fairfax media | Sydney Morning Herald | The Age
Steel balls once used in the copper refining process – lie redundant at the Panguna deposit in the 1990s. Photo: Mike Bowers
Bougainville Copper [Rio Tinto] is to open an office on Bougainville Island this year as sentiment begins to build within Papua New Guinea for a resumption of mining of the giant Panguna copper deposit.
[Amazing, now we learn all of Papua New Guinea is supporting the mine’s reopening, this takes us one step further than even the Momis’ fantasy that 97% of Bougainville are behind it]
The visit to Bougainville Island by the PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill earlier this year – the first visit by a government official of his standing in more than 15 years – has prompted conciliatory sentiment towards production resuming, the company told shareholders.
[Yep, and PNG Exposed called it for what it really is all about - Bougainville Copper dines out on PM's visit to Bougainville]
This visit was followed by the head of the autonomous Bougainville government, John Momis, who has signalled the willingness of most parties on the island to resuming production.
[By most parties Momis means the ABG and certain clients in a landowners association SET UP by the ABG, and Rio Tinto/BCL. Excluded are ‘most people’ in the mine area, who oppose BCL’s return.]
Civil war forced Rio Tinto unit Bougainville Copper to halt production in 1989 at what was then one of the largest copper mines in the world.
[The Panguna Landowners Association forced the mine to close, with a democratic mandate from its members. The violent reaction from the PNG government prompted by BCL, cultivated war. Don’t put the cart before the horse]
The Panguna mine was the largest single source of the country’s export revenues and comprised about 7 per cent of global copper production.
[Surely you are going to balance all this talk of the revenue and financial returns with mention of the environmental damage and the human rights abuses - but then again, maybe not...]
One recent estimate put the cost of reopening the mine at more than $US4 billion, although it is unclear whether Rio would be willing to foot the bill for much of this work or would seek partners from the outset. This study was by the US Agency for International Development, which outlined a series of approaches that could stabilise developments on the island amid a push for greater autonomy from Port Moresby, which could pave the way for mining.
[This would be the recent USAID report. The one that raises concerns that outstanding issue of corporate liability for environmental damage and human rights abuses, could reignite tensions, given the ABG’s indecent rush to reopen Panguna. Funny all this was left out]
Along with resolving a series of technical issues before resuming production, perhaps more important is achieving agreement on revenue sharing with the island, which was one of the prime reasons for conflict over the mine so soon after production began.
[ABG propaganda, rehashed as news. The landowner executive kicked out by Ona and Serero in an electoral landslide, wanted a bigger slice of the pie, and worked with Momis in 1987 to get it. Ona and Serero saw the pie as toxic and entirely inedible. But never let the facts get in the way of a good corporate spin piece]
Under the original revenue-sharing agreement, the bulk went to the central government but only a minor portion of the funds went to Bougainville’s provincial government.
[Of which a large proportion was eaten by the very people wanting to reopen the mine now, while the rest saw nothing]
In its latest report to the stock exchange Bougainville Copper said no major studies into resuming production would begin until there was broad agreement between the various parties supporting the project.
In 2012, preliminary studies were conducted and they supported the project’s prospective financial and economic viability.
The new office will play a key role in assessing remediation issues, as well as ”community development programs, social mapping, asset revaluation and de-risking”.
[ah, you mean reopening the mine against the wishes of the women owners]
Major studies such as pre-feasibility and bankable feasibility studies will not be launched ”until consultations with governments, landowners and other stakeholders result in broad agreement for redevelopment”, the miner has told shareholders.
Before the suspension of mining, the Panguna site was producing about 180,000 tonnes of contained copper annually, along with a quantity of gold.
Bougainville Copper is 53 per cent owned by Rio Tinto, with the PNG government holding a further 19 per cent.
The Panguna mine was not the only project of Rio’s in PNG that ran into difficulties.
The group lost control of the Mount Kare gold deposit 20 years ago, when it was overrun by local miners who have tapped the alluvial reserves overlaying this deposit.
A smaller company, Indochine Mining, is now finalising an agreement with the landowners so mining can begin.