Post Courier | February 18, 2018
Secretary for Bougainville Mineral and Energy Resources Shadrach Himata says a total of four mining explorations licences have been issued to date.
Mr Himata said companies from Australia, Canada, and the Philippines have taken up interest in the exploration of various areas in Bougainville upon the request of landowner groups.
“We have a company from Australia, Canadians interested, and the Filipinos who are interested in exploration,” Mr Himata said.
“Right now we have issued four exploration licences in the Tore area in North Bougainville and the Central Bougainville is the Isina area.
“The Filipino company, SR Metals, are interested in doing exploration in the eastern part of Isina area in Central Bougainville.”
He said on the northern part of the Tore area, Australian company, Kalia Resources, is carrying out exploration.
“I guess Bougainville is open to any investor who want to come and do business with us,” he said.
“Potentially Bougainville is a highly mineralised region, but what we are doing at the moment is we are looking at areas that the people themselves want exploration to take place, then we open up those areas.
“Basically the entire Bougainville region is under what we call a moratorium. Only areas where people are willing to give up their land for exploration, then the government will facilitate.”
He said for Panguna, the government gave the first right of refusal to Bougainville Copper Limited, but through the process the people and the government felt it was risky to allow BCL to develop the mine or pursue exploration.
“They have decided not to renew the exploration licence and put the area on reservation.
“Apart from Panguna we have also opened up other economic areas on Bougainville with mineral exploration, with the hope that we will find a major resource to process to development.
“We are betting on current exploration companies on the ground right now. Again you never know how long exploration takes. It may take five years or even 10,” he said.
“If we find something earlier the better, but we still see Panguna as an actual mine and it is easier to develop Panguna than other areas.”
He said although Panguna has been put on reserve, it is still on the radar in terms of an economic impact project for Bougainville.
“The key is unity of the people, that is why we are putting the brakes a bit. When they are ready they can come back to the government with one voice and we can decide what is the best method going forward.”