“New regime to create something special for Bougainville”
Sebastian Hakalits | Post Courier | 1 March 2017
BOUGAINVILLE Copper Limited (BCL), under a new regime, is keen on re-opening the Panguna mine with promises of more equitable sharing of wealth with landowners and the Autonomous Bougainville Government.
Company chairman Robert Burns was in Buka last week and met with Bougainville cabinet ministers and landowner groups to put forward BCL’s proposals for start-up by year 2020.
According to BCL’s proposals on full operations from 2020 and beyond, it will inject US$350 million (K1 billion) a year to the Bougainville Government.
BCL has projected to pay about US$25 million (about K70 million a year) to the nine landowner associations to distribute among themselves.
The details of the BCL forward plans for Panguna were made at a presentation by the company recently.
BCL operated the Panguna mine for 18 years as a subsidiary company of Rio Tinto until it was shut down by the infamous Bougainville crisis from 1988 to 1999.
But the company was under a new regime after Rio Tinto left and during the process, off-loaded its majority of 53 per cent shares, of which a majority of 36 per cent belongs to Bougainvilleans, to the ABG.
The National Government owns 19 per cent, Panguna landowners 17 per cent and the rest other shareholders in Europe.
Mr Burns said in his presentation that BCL would engage with the ABG and landowners to fast-track and remove the impending issues to “create something very special for Bougainville”.
He said the company was ready and very much interested and committed to access Panguna and carry out the activities of feasibility and environmental studies before re-developing the mine. But he insisted that the ABG must support the company in its endeavours to remove any impediments so that it can have easy access to the Panguna mine area.