Tag Archives: Bougainville Copper Limited

BCL Working Closely With ABG

Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) Has Been Engaged In Planning And Implementing Agreed-Upon Activities In Bougainville Since 2012, BCL Chairman Rob Burns Said This Week.

Post Courier | May 12, 2017

Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) has been engaged in planning and implementing agreed-upon activities in Bougainville since 2012, BCL chairman Rob Burns said this week.

Mr Burns said in a statement this had been at the invitation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the nine landowner associations involved in discussions on the future of the Panguna resource.

“BCL meets routinely with the ABG and the landowning associations to review these plans and agree on further activities,” he said.

He reiterated his statement at the recent annual general meeting on April 27, outlining some of the progress regarding the Panguna project that had been achieved with the support of Panguna landowners and other stakeholders.

Mr Burns said this in relation to an article in Post-Courier on May 3 in which a landowner group claimed that BCL wanted to get easy access to the Panguna mine.

“BCL is now a predominately locally owned company with landowners at the core of its operations,” he said, adding that the Panguna project had the support of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Bougainville president John Momis.

Mr Burns noted that one interest group from the Panguna area recently petitioned the ABG to cancel BCL’s exploration rights.

“This group purports to represent all Panguna landowners, and questions the ABG and national government support for BCL.

“As noted by president Momis in his interview with Radio New Zealand last week, the group has a separate commitment to an Australian resource company, which is in pursuit of mineral rights at Panguna, of which BCL has been granted tenure.”

Much of the public discourse in the media regarding resource development at Panguna must be viewed in terms of competing commercial interest in Panguna’s mineral rights.

He said that differing views on the future of the Panguna project, especially from the customary landowners, should be respected.

However, when those views do not reflect the broad support from landowners, these views are being driven by personal ambition at the expense of customary landowners and the economic security of Bougainville.

“There is still much work to do to strengthen alignment between stakeholders on the range of issues affecting project progress.

“BCL will continue to engage with the landowning groups at Panguna who have continuously provided support in finding a pathway through the many issues that confront us  all.”

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Bougainville Copper moving to reopen controversial Panguna mine with Government backing

Reopening the Panguna mine could give the Bougainville Government a much-desired source of revenue claims the ABG. (AAP Image: Ilya Gridneff, file)

Eric Tlozek | ABC News | 4 May 2017

The company which used to the run the controversial Panguna copper mine on the island of Bougainville is now trying to reopen it with the support of the island’s Government.

It has been almost three decades since Panguna was abandoned, after anger about the mine led to the outbreak of an armed insurgency known as the “Bougainville crisis”.

Now the Bougainville Government believes it needs the mine to reopen, so the region can have a source of revenue that could enable it to become independent from Papua New Guinea.

The bid by the Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) to reopen its Panguna mine is stronger than one might expect, given the mine led to an armed insurgency and its abandonment left central Bougainville with many environmental problems.

But this time it will be quite different and the landowners will be brought along on the journey.

BCL secretary Mark Hitchcock said restarting the mine would allow the company to address some of the environmental and social problems it left behind.

“We did have to leave in a hurry and things were not closed down the way that a normal mine would close,” Mr Hitchcock said.

“When we go back, we’ll be conducting our baseline studies to see what the situation is and we will, as the mine progresses, progressively work on some of those environmental issues.

“But with the people, the mine will only work if we involve them all the way along.”

BCL was owned by Rio Tinto, but the mining giant gave its shareholding to the PNG Government and to the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the entity created as part of the Bougainville Peace Agreement to end the crisis.

The PNG Government said it would then give its shareholding to unspecified landowners in Bougainville, creating uncertainty about who the company must deal with and leaving the Bougainville Government without a controlling stake.

Mr Hitchcock said that has created another problem to be resolved.

“The ABG and the landowners are a little bit concerned about who the actual owners are, after Prime Minister O’Neill said that he was going to gift them to the people of Bougainville and the landowner,” he said.

“So that’s one of the issues we need to sort out. “

The controversial Panguna mine was one of the richest copper mines in the world. (ABC News, file photo)

The PNG and Bougainville Governments have just agreed to create a Joint Steering Committee to resolve this and other issues.

BCL executive chairman Rob Burns said that was a major step forward.

“So we’ve got commitment in that respect that all parties are going to work together and it’s terrific news for BCL,” Mr Burns said.

BCL was stripped of its mining tenements and left with just an exploration licence, but it still has all the resource data for the site.

Other companies have expressed an interest in mining Panguna, but the Bougainville Government is giving preference to BCL because it owns part of the company.

Raymond Masono, Bougainville’s Deputy President and Mining Minister, said “BCL is not longer the devil that we know”.

“We actually own this devil as a major shareholder in the company,” he said.

“Also, BCL under the Bougainville Mining Act has the first right of refusal to Panguna.”

BCL return expected to face opposition

The main reason the Autonomous Bougainville Government is supporting a resumption of mining is revenue.

There will be a referendum in 2019 on whether the region should become fully independent of Papua New Guinea, and the Bougainville Government believes a mine is the best way to guarantee income for a new country.

“We believe that Panguna can bankroll Bougainville’s autonomy and independence if the people so decide in the 2019 referendum,” Mr Masono said.

The Bougainville Government, headed by President John Momis, believes most landowners support reopening the mine.

The Bougainville Government says most landowners support the resumption of mining, but other residents may be less convinced.

A United Nations Development Program report in 2014 found there was no evidence of majority support for reopening the mine amongst the general population.

There are also some organised groups who oppose BCL’s return.

Mr Burns said the company was aware of “active detractors”.

“We believe that they’re a very minor group and the most vocal of that group have competing interests in our Panguna mineral rights and they aren’t truly representative of landowners,” he said.

The push to reopen Panguna is part of a broader move by the Bougainville Government to lift its moratorium on mining in general.

BCL’s attempt will surely be watched by companies and investors to see how well the damage of the Bougainville crisis has healed.

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Momis: Bougainville cannot be held back by one group

Radio New Zealand | 3 May 2017

The government in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region of Bougainville says it will consider a petition from a landowning group opposed to Bougainville Copper Ltd returning to the long closed Panguna mine.

The Osikiang Special Mining Lease landowners handed a petition with about 500 signatures to President John Momis’s office last Friday.

They said, as the owners of the site of Panguna, they would never allow BCL to return, because the company had not done anything about the destruction it had caused.

Mr Momis said they would consider the petition but one group cannot hold up Bougainville’s economic development.

“Well they keep changing their position. One time they want the mine to go ahead and another time they – but we will accept their petition and then see it in the totality of things because, you know, we can’t be held back by just one group of people, although they are the owners of the mine site currently.”

The Osikiang Landowners have a separate commitment with an Australian mining conglomerate, RTG, to develop Panguna.

Bougainville Copper Ltd, or BCL, is now controlled by the Bougainville and Papua New Guinea governments, after its multi national owner worked [sic] away, handing its shares to the two governments.

President Momis has said whether Panguna ever re-opens is up in the air, but his government has now opened up mining explorations in other parts of Bougainville

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Bougainville landowners detail opposition to BCL

Radio New Zealand | 1 May 2017

A group of Bougainville land owners have presented a petition to the president of the autonomous Papua New Guinea region detailing their opposition to Bougainville Copper Ltd’s application for a mining exploration licence.

The Osikiang Landowner Association, which owns the land at the site of the long shut mine, says it wants to make its opposition clear.

It said this was in response to statements from the government suggesting BCL had unanimous backing to return.

The Bougainville Government is now the largest shareholder in BCL after the multi-national Rio Tinto walked away from its involvement and gave away its shareholding to the PNG and Bougainville governments.

PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has said the PNG shares from Rio would go to Bougainville landowners.

But the chairman of Osikiang Philip Miriori said they would never accept BCL resuming mining at Panguna because of the damage the company had caused.

The group was not opposed to mining though and has established links with Australian-based mining conglomerate, RTG Mining, to form Central Me’ekamui Exploration Ltd.

Together they developed a proposal for what they say would be a 50 percent Bougainville-owned venture, emphasizing rehabilitation from the outset and aiming to be in full production by 2026.

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Panguna petition proves BCL not welcome and the BCL claim of ‘unanimous Landowner consent’ is false

One PNG | 28 April 2017

Panguna landowners today presented a petition to the Bougainville Government office of President John Momis, rejecting BCL’s application for an exploration licence.

The petition is a direct response to reports that President Momis is considering supporting the BCL application because he understood it was supported by local landholders.

Philip Miriori and a number of other representatives of SMLOLA met with President Momis in March this year following the misleading statements made suggesting BCL had unanimous consent.

Although it was acknowledged at that meeting that President Momis had been misinformed, unfortunately there has been continued support for BCL and the landowners felt it important to demonstrate the overwhelming and heart felt view of the owners of the minerals – BCL will never be accepted on their lands.

The Chairman of the SMLOLA, Philip Miriori, said the petition proved President Momis had been misled about the supposed local support for the BCL application.

“We are the landholders who own the land and the minerals beneath the ground at the Panguna minesite,” Chairman Miriori said.

“We will never accept BCL, as these signatures show,” he said.

“We will be explaining the alternative proposal we have developed and presented to the ABG – a proposal that will get the mine back up and running professionally, and far earlier than BCL plans, which represents real benefits for Bougainville and its independent future economic prosperity.”

The petition presented today includes over 500 signatures – an over whelming majority of the landholders within the Panguna minesite boundary.

SMLOLA Chairman Miriori said the petition called on the ABG to reject the BCL renewal application.

“President Momis should do what he said he would do and listen to and respect the views of  local people, the people the law has now given ownership of the minerals to,” he said.

“He should be looking at the alternative we have developed, instead of listening to more empty promises from BCL.”

SMLOLA Chairman Miriori said all of the petition signatories were landholders within the Panguna mining licence area. Many would be attending the community briefing about the SMLOLA alternative proposal in Arawa soon.

“For the first step, the grant of an exploration licence, those within that boundary are the only landholders who are relevant and affected by activities. Landholders in surrounding areas will also have a say when the mine takes the next step from exploration to a mining licence if the reopening of the mine  needs to expand into those surrounding lands.

“BCL’s exploration licence renewal application should be rejected for many reasons but as many feel, the company has failed to address the environmental damage caused when the mine was operating up to 1989.  All that was left for us was that environmental damage, division in the community and the loss of our land and many lives.  

“We believe BCL left terrible damage which it has never tried to repair, it then had 2 years to try and progress the mine, it did nothing and ignored us.  Now it expects the Government to give it another licence to return to Panguna. President Momis says BCL do not have a development partner and first need to find a development partner to be able to progress but can’t tell us who that is – more empty promises about what it might do in the future.  How can we believe them after so many years of nothing. This is not acceptable to us.  We will never allow it to happen,” Chairman Miriori said.

“There is a better way forward.  We have a proposal which can deliver a real prospect for Panguna and future prosperity for Bougainville .

“Instead of trusting BCL’s false claim that it has unanimous landowner consent, the Government should be giving respect to the true local landholders and working with us,” he stressed.

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Panguna landowners say ‘no’ to BCL’s proposed return to mining on Bougainville

Bougainville Revolutionary Army fighters look down on the Panguna mine in 1996

One PNG | 24 April 2017

Panguna landowners have reacted angrily to a report that the PNG Government supports formerly Rio Tinto-linked company BCL in its bid to convince authorities it should be given exploration rights at the controversial Panguna minesite – the scene of major civil unrest in Bougainville in the 1990s.

The President of the Special Mining Lease Landowners Association, Philip Miriori, said his group was 100% opposed and that many other Bougainvillians shared this view.

Claims of unanimous landowner support for BCL were wrong and insulting, Mr Miriori said, adding it was time PNG Prime Minister O’Neill and Bougainville President Momis heard some true facts.  

He also went on to say:

“In fact, during the first phase the issue of an exploration licence, we are the only Landowner Association that has a say as it will be our minerals and land that will be disturbed and subject to exploration. It is only later, when the mine is redeveloped that the other Landowners will need to consider their position.”

“Our group owns the land and the mineral rights for the minesite.  Nothing can occur on the site without our permission,” Mr Miriori said.

“We are being deliberately passed over despite Bougainville Government assurances that no action would be taken on the minesite without proper respect to people’s views.

“Many Bougainvillians were angered at the statements about PNG Government support for BCL. I expect we will hear much more this week,” he said.

Mr Miriori was referring to a planned gathering of ex-combatants from the Bougainville conflict, which erupted on the back of BCL and Rio Tinto’s operation of the old Panguna, leaving only environmental carnage and deep-seated disputes over improper payments and lack of accountability with the death of many of our friends and family.

“All this will do is further motivate our people to stand up against BCL, stronger and more vocally,” Mr Miriori said.

“Most people in Bougainville know of Francis Ona’s words: ‘BCL should never be allowed to return to Bougainville’.”

The SML group made their position very clear to Bougainville’s President Momis at a meeting in late February and another earlier in December last year.

“We said we will never accept BCL.  It is the same company that caused turmoil in Bougainville which lasted more than 10years. It is run by ex-Rio people. And it continues to break its promises, try to bully us and misrepresent us, as it tries to drive a wedge between our people and ignore our rights as the owners of the minerals.”

“It is time people woke up to this.  In 28 years, BCL has done nothing for Bougainville or PNG except make empty promises or ignore us. Why would we even consider giving BCL anything – they have given us nothing and they owe millions in unpaid rent and hundreds of millions in compensation for ruining the environment.

“There is a better way forward which will finally get rid of BCL and bring some real hope back for Panguna and future Bougainville independence and prosperity.”

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BCL Makes Final Royalty Payment

Romulus Masiu | Post Courier | April 21, 2017

BOUGAINVILLE Copper Limited (BCL) [says it] has completed the 1990 Panguna landowners’ compensation payment verification program.

[It says] A total of K14 million has been paid directly into the bank accounts of the landowners as their royalty payment, as agreed in the Bougainville Copper Agreement. This is the landowners’ last royalty payment, unless BCL returns to dig the mine again in the future.

The program, which started in December last year, covers the Special Mining Lease areas, starting from Port Mine Access Road to the Lower Tailings of the Emperor Augusta Bay in Bana and Torokina districts of South Bougainville.

To date, the two districts are still facing the marine and environmental damages from the polluted Jaba and Kavarong rivers even though the mine officially shut down operations in 1989.

The program has also covered the middle tailings and the SML areas, including the mine pit and the surrounding villages.

“Full credit must go to the hardworking team led by Bruno Babato and his officers from the Office of Panguna Mine Negotiations who tirelessly worked for five years for this to finally happen”.

BCL was “well represented” during the verification process by Port Moresby-based officer, Justin Rogers, who was on the ground to oversee the smooth running of the program, which was finally completed at Pakia village, Ioro constituency of Panguna district.

Mr Babato appealed to the recipients to use whatever amount they’re paid wisely because this is the final land compensation payment since BCL started operations in 1972.

Apart from the 1990 outstanding land compensation payment, which the resource owners of Panguna received, they also want BCL to progress with the belkol ceremony before any discussion with the company on the mine reopening issues is discussed. The belkol will involve the whole of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville population from North, Central and South Bougainville.

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