Tag Archives: Bougainville Copper Limited

Bougainville Copper remains confident of Panguna backing

An abandoned building at Panguna mine site in Bougainville

Radio New Zealand | 13 June 2018

Bougainville Copper is rejecting claims it lacks backing among landowners for a re-launch of the Panguna mine.

Two companies have been pushing to reopen the Papua New Guinea mine which was shut down when the Bougainville civil war broke out nearly 30 years ago.

The Osikaiang Landowners Association, from the site of the mine, is with a rival mining company and it has written to the Australian Stock Exchange claiming BCL doesn’t have the backing among local landowners which it claims.

But BCL secretary Mark Hitchcock said they are confident they have strong support and that it is the leaders of the Osikaiang Association, Philip Miriori and Lawrence Daveona, who are misleading people.

“The two purported leaders of the Osikaiang Landowner Association don’t represent the actual land title holders.”

“Those landowners are quite frustrated that these two gentlemen purport to hold themselves out as their spokesperson when they don’t have the powers to do so, he said.”

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RTG using medical supplies to win hearts and minds in battle over Panguna

Arawa town. Photo Radio New Zealand

RTG Mining Inc. Announces Donation of Medical Supplies for New Arawa District Hospital in Bougainville

RTG Mining via Stockhouse | 30 May 2018

RTG Mining Inc. is pleased to announce that together with the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association (“SMLOLA”), the company has donated much needed medical supplies to the new Arawa District Hospital, which is soon to be officially opened in Bougainville by the Australian High Commissioner and leading Government officials from both the Autonomous Bougainville Government and Papua New Guinea Government. 

RTG has been working with the SMLOLA team, who represent the Customary Landowners who own the minerals at the old Panguna Mine and is thankful for the opportunity to work with the team on this project.  Good healthcare is one of the central tenets of life, that should be available to all and we are proud to be able to help the local communities in this way.  Livelihood programs have always been an important part of our philosophy, with the RTG Management Team having won awards around the world for its social and environmental programs, having successfully developed and operated 7 mines in 5 different countries.

RTG remains committed to working with the SMLOLA, its members and the Autonomous Bougainville Government to progress the redevelopment of Panguna.  We thank the SMLOLA and its members for their continued support and nomination as their preferred development partner should they be successful in securing an exploration licence for Panguna.

ABOUT RTG MINING INC.

RTG Mining Inc. is a mining and exploration company listed on the main board of the Toronto Stock Exchange and Australian Securities Exchange Limited.  RTG is focused on a proposal with a landowner lead consortium to secure an exploration licence at the high tonnage copper-gold Panguna Project in Bougainville PNG and the high grade copper/gold/magnetite Mabilo Project in the Philippines, while also identifying major new projects which will allow the Company to move quickly and safely to production.

RTG has an experienced management team which has to date developed seven mines in five different countries, including being responsible for the development of the Masbate Gold Mine in the Philippines through CGA Mining Limited, and has B2Gold as one of its major shareholders in the Company. B2Gold is a member of both the S&P/TSX Global Gold and Global Mining Indices.

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BCL “wishes to create goodwill”

Cedric Patjole | Loop PNG | May 28, 2018

Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) chairman, Mel Togolo, says the company aims to work positively and constructively with both the PNG and Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG).

He also said the company wishes to create goodwill among communities as they plan to redevelop Panguna Mine.

Togolo said this following the company’s Annual General Meeting on Thursday.

Togolo said it was important to note that BCL was a PNG company with both the PNG and ABG governments as major shareholders.

“The National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government have 36.4 percent each. They own the company because they have significant interest in the company on behalf of their respective people,” said Togolo.

Given their majority shareholding, it was important that positive and constructive relationship was in place.

“We respect the Government of the day. We want to work together, and also we know that the Government, the Bougainville Government like the Papua New Guinea Government, have got significant interests as shareholders and their interest as a board we’ll have to look after that interest and to make sure that we create goodwill and understanding among the community in order for us to redevelop the Panguna Mine.”

With the referendum approaching, Togolo says that is a political process they will not be involved in. But they encouraged both governments to work together during the process.

“But as a company we are focused to see how we can redevelop the mine which will be of benefit to Bougainvillean people and the Government of Papua New Guinea.”

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Court hearings in Port Moresby and Melbourne over future of Bougainville’s Panguna copper mine

The abandoned Panguna copper mine. Credit Sydney Morning Herald

Kevin McQuillan | Business Advantage | 8 May 2018

Two court hearings on May 17, one in Port Moresby and the other in Melbourne, will help determine the future of the exploration licence for the Panguna copper mine in Bougainville. Business Advantage PNG looks at the ongoing competition for the rights to exploit the resource.

The decision to refuse an extension of Bougainville Copper Limited’s exploration licence and to impose an indefinite moratorium over the Panguna resource, followed a statutory Warden’s meeting in December 2017.

There was ‘a narrow divide between those supporting the mine to be opened by Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL) and those that oppose it’, according to Bougainville President John Momis.

BCL has successfully sought leave to apply for a judicial review of the decision to refuse its licence extension, citing legal and procedural concerns.

‘While the moratorium has been gazetted, it has no impact on existing exploration licences or applications for extension, lodged prior to the moratorium,’ BCL Company Secretary, Mark Hitchcock, tells Business Advantage PNG.

‘BCL remains the holder of the exploration licence (EL1) until the matter is ultimately determined,’ he says.

BCL has held the licence since the mine closed in 1989. The company is now owned by the PNG national government (36.4 per cent), the Autonomous Bougainville Government (36.4 per cent), European shareholders (four per cent) and 23.2 per cent through the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). Rio Tinto gave away its stake in 2016.

Those opposing BCL’s involvement are led by Philip Miriori, who claims chairmanship of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners’ Association (SMLOLA).

He has thrown his support behind a bid by Perth-based junior miner, RTG Mining, to gain the exploration licence, setting up a joint venture company, Central Exploration, of which RTG owns 24 per cent.

One of RTG’s major shareholders holds another 32 per cent, and the SMLOLA retains 44 per cent.

Miriori’s chairmanship of the SMLOLA remains in dispute. The 367 authorised customary heads of the 510 blocks of land within the special mining lease area of Panguna say they do not recognise Miriori as the Chairman of the SMLOLA and support the extension of BCL’s exploration licence.

Melbourne hearing

On the same day as the Port Moresby hearing, BCL will be in court in Melbourne, seeking disclosure about the relationship between RTG Mining and the SMLOLA.

Miriori and other supporters admit they are being paid by RTG, but Miriori has told the ABC that the payments are legitimate salaries, not inducements.

‘That is always a normal part of anything, nothing is free,’ he says.

The action seeks disclosure from RTG Mining and Central Exploration about any compensation or benefits paid to the SMLOLA.

One analyst close to the proceedings says any disclosure could determine the possibility of ‘unlawful interference’ with BCL’s exploration licence.

For his part, Momis says his government believes it would be ‘untenable under current circumstances’ for any developer to develop the mine.

‘We have some problems with RTG right now,’ Momis tells RNZI.

‘In fact, they are causing a lot of confusion and division in the community and we are not prepared to go ahead while this situation prevails.’

Exploration data

Should RTG Mining or any other company win the exploration licence, the next battle will be over the data about the location and extent of resources.

‘BCL has an extensive database of historical data and project information from the mine operations prior to closure in 1990,’ says Hitchcock. ‘This data remains the intellectual property of the company.’

Even if that data is not protected by intellectual property law but is only considered confidential information, it will still require cooperation from BCL to access, according to Alexandra George, Senior Lecturer at the University of New South Wales, who specialises in international intellectual property law.

She tells Business Advantage PNG it might be expensive and time-consuming to obtain.

She says under Australian copyright law, ownership of a database is not straightforward. Whether or not RTG Mining could access the data may depend on the terms of the exploration licence, any special legislation, and on the terms of any contracts or licence agreements that have been entered into.

‘If [the data] was not available, having to reinvent the wheel would add significant costs,’ says George.

‘Perhaps the safest way of assessing value is what the market is prepared to pay.’

‘We estimate it would take any other company or entity at least two-to-three years to replicate the BCL database through exploration activities and would cost in excess of A$200 million (K400 million),’ says Hitchcock.

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Landowners disappointed with BCL

PNG Loop | April 29, 2018

The Special Mine Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association Inc has expressed disappointment with Bougainville Copper Ltd’s conduct.

In a statement, SMLOLA chairman, Philip Miriori, and his advisor Lawrence Daveona say BCL has shown that they have not changed or learnt any lessons “from the tragic history they put us through”.

“The Warden’s Hearing could not have been a stronger message from our community – BCL is not welcome at Panguna ever, yet they try and say they have majority landowner support.

“Respect the call of the people and the Government and leave.

“The decision of the ABG to deny their purported renewal application has been incredibly positive for our landowners, allowing the real facts to come to light and getting rid of the menace that was trying to divide our people. We are now united behind a fresh new development of Panguna with our preferred developer, RTG Mining Inc. and want nothing to do with BCL again.”

The following comments are in response to the 2017 Annual Report of BCL which was released to the Australian Stock Exchange recently.

Miriori says for a company that:

  • Has been given almost 30 years to fix up their failings of the past with no progress;
  • Accepted a further 2 year exploration licence under the very Bougainville Mining Act they now conveniently say is illegal;
  • Sought a renewal of the exploration licence under the very Bougainville Mining Act they now conveniently say is illegal;
  • Were given a further 18 months after the expiry of their 2 year exploration licence to secure landowner support and still failed throughout that 3 and half year period to overcome or even acknowledge the legacy issues and win landowner support;
  • Attended a Warden’s Hearing under the very Bougainville Mining Act they now conveniently say is illegal and failed;

They now try and cry wolf saying they have been treated unfairly and actually have strong landowner support despite the obvious facts. How naïve do they think the landowners and the ABG are?

Daveona says:

“I know BCL well, I sadly supported them for 34 years till 2017 but I have now seen the truth.

“My fellow SMLOLA members are now all united against the return of BCL at any time. We will not be taken advantage of again. Even if they tried to finally step up and listen to us and compensate us for the past, it is too late, we cannot trust them. Too many broken promises.”

Miriori adds:

“The Annual Report accuses the ABG of expropriating BCL’s Panguna mine assets in breach of the Bougainville Copper Agreement Act 1967; the same Bougainville Mining Act that they were happy to take advantage of and use to prolong their involvement in Panguna.

“They also say the ABG has no legal powers in respect to mining on Bougainville and that the ABG has now illegally expropriated its mine. Could there be any greater show of disrespect for our ABG and Bougainville at large?”

The landowners have made their choice on the redevelopment of Panguna and are committed to working with the ABG to implement a successful new mine that will benefit all Bougainvilleans.

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Hearing on BCL licence case next month

Sally Pokiton | Loop PNG | April 23, 2018

decision for the non-renewal of exploration licence to Bougainville Copper Limited will be reviewed by the National Court in May.

The decision made on 16 January 2018 by the Autonomous Bougainville Government has been stayed by the court since April 10, pending the substantive hearing.

It was stayed after leave was granted by Justice Leka Nablu of the Waigani National Court.

Parties in the case, including another interested party, appeared before the National Court today (April 23).

The case will return to court on May 10.

BCL applied for the renewal of its exploration licence on 6 May 2016 from the Department of Mineral and Energy Resources of the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

On 16 January 2018, BCL was informed that the exploration licence will not be renewed. BCL believes there were flaws in the process and wants the decision to undergo judicial review.

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Bougainville president elaborates on ‘No’ to mining

Radio New Zealand | 17 April 2018

The President of the autonomous Papua New Guinea region of Bougainville has elaborated on why his government is saying no to mining at Panguna for the foreseable future.

Panguna was the site of the Bougainville Copper Ltd mine which was at the crux of the ten year long civil war.

In recent years there has been a push to have it re-opened to help drive the Bougainville economy forward.

Two companies, Bougainville Copper Ltd and RTG have been battling for the rights to mine Panguna but last week the government announced an indefinite moratorium on mining there.

Don Wiseman asked Bougainville President John Momis why they had taken such action.

JOHN MOMIS: Because landowners themselves are split. One faction supporting another company in developing the mine and another faction supports another company. So we don’t want to cause a split amongst the landowners because we have a referendum coming. We want to make sure we unite our people.

DON WISEMAN: Yes, although the landowners you say are supporting another company – that’s the Osikaiang group and they are right at the site of the current mine so as far, I think, as they are concerned, they are the landowners at that point, therefore they are ones that make that decision.

JM: Not really. Titleholders have rejected their claim. They have said they are not the legitimate titleholders, this Osikaiang group. Titleholders, according to law, are people who are supporting another company. So there is a definite divide and until the people are united we will not proceed with any mining.

DW: So in the meantime, in terms of trying to orchestrate some sort of unity, is the ABG going to do anything? Are you going to undertake anything, or leave it up to the landowner groups themselves?

JM: No, no we have taken steps to unite them. For us you know determining Bougainville’s future is more paramount right now. It is the priority we are focussing our attention to, to make sure that the people of Bougainville are united, so we don’t want any other issues to undermine this unity.

DW: Essentially it is off the radar until after the referendum?

JM: That’s probably it. I can’t see how the landowners can unite before the referendum. If they do then that will be good and we will look at other possibilities.

DW: The ABG of course is in an invidious position because you are a significant owner of Bougainville Copper Ltd, which is this other company you talk of. If the landowners agreed and they wanted to go with RTG, the second of those companies, would you, the ABG, accept that?

JM: We have some problems with RTG right now. In fact they are causing a lot of confusion and division in the community and we are not prepared to go ahead while this situation prevails.

DW: One of the reasons for this focus on Panguna had been to get the economy cranking ahead of the referendum, if that was possible. So if the effort is now going in a different direction is there going to be this focus that’s been talked about up to now but I am not sure how much has been done, in terms of agriculture and tourism and fishing.

JM: We cannot sacrifice unity for the sake of even generating revenue at this point in time. We have the referendum coming and it’s going to be very high on our priority list, so we have made it very clear to the landowners that unless they are totally united and they are prepared to subject themselves to the rule of law and so on and so forth, the ABG will leave the reserve [moratorium] in place.

DW: But in terms of these other industries is any effort going into those?

JM: We are looking at timber development and other industries, yes.  

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