Tag Archives: Rio Tinto

President Momis announces support for the new Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL)

Bougainville News | 16 March 2017

President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government Chief Dr John Momis has announced his support of the new Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) .

The new BCL is step away from the post-colonial and pre-crisis arrangement that had Bougainville at a disadvantage; it is partly owned by the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the National Government, Panguna Landowners and people of Bougainville to develop the defunct Panguna Mine with the landowners for the benefit of Bougainville.

President Momis said the ABG as regulator will work together and support BCL explore alternative Panguna development options that will accommodate the interest of project stakeholders to fast track the development of the Panguna resources.

“Since BCL was invited to formally re-engage in discussions in Bougainville in 2012, the landowners have consistently stated their preference to work with BCL as the developer,” Momis said.

This was recently reaffirmed by the nine (9) Landowner Associations in Buka on 23 February 2017 after the BCL team led by Chairman Rob Burns made presentations to the ABG leaders and the nince landowner association executives and representatives on the new BCL’s development proposal for Panguna.

During that visit the Chairman present to the ABG leaders and the landowners a staed development proposal outlining how different the new Panguna approach will be under the new BCL hich now owned by the ABG, the Panguna landowners, people of Bougainville and the National Government.

Due to the recent majority of shares transferred by the Rio Tinto to ABG and the National Government, the ABG and the landowners now view BCL as not the devil we know but the devil we won.

The ABG and the landowners will now have to take advantage of this scenario and work out a positive strategy for an outcome that will be equitably beneficial for all stakeholders especially the landowners.

The ABG and the landowners have also committed to addressing the immediate challenges to progressing the Panguna project and looks forward to working in partnership with BCL through the project development cycle.

During discussions held this week between the BCL and the ABG, the two parties reaffirmed their commitment in which a way forward can be agreed for the immediate addressing of stage 0- Removing impediments under the BCL proposed staged development proposal presented during 23 – 24 February visit.

In those discussions it was also mentioned for BCL’s consideration to find ways and opportunities in its exploration to project development financing phase to support the ABG’s immediate development agendas as a way of building a long term unwavering development in Panguna.

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Is PNG taking over Bougainville via the backdoor?

PNGExposed | March 7, 2017

Over the past month, there has been a sudden spike in reporting on Bougainville Copper Limited and the Panguna mine. The reports vary notably. Some suggest an opening date of 2020. Others suggest something closer to 2025.

Curiously no journalist has asked, who is the man being described variously as BCL’s new CEO or CFO, Mr Mark Wallace Hitchcock?

Given that he appears to be a key source for these various bold claims over BCL’s ambitious objectives, it would seem a question worth asking.

BCL’s website is notably sparse. In contrast to most corporate websites, there is no detailed biography available on its head. Does he have mining experience? What are the blue-chip mining concerns he previously managed? Its impossible to know.

Yet given Hitchock is claiming his company will lead Bougainville to the promised land of milk and honey, one would expect details.

We do know, however, through some detective work that Hitchcock is in a close commercial relationship with a tycoon who is close ally of Peter O’Neill.

Company records reveal that Mr Mark Hitchcock is Director of Vane Mata Quarry Limited, a company majority owned by none other than the Australian magnate, ‘Sir’ Theophilus George Constantinou [through his company Monier Limited]. Constantinou is a man who is deeply involved in business relations with Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill.

It must be asked, is this a push by the Port Moresby club to take over Panguna?

Another fact that appears to have been overlooked by media commentators is BCL’s share registry. Despite the considerable passage of time since Rio Tinto ‘gave’ its shares to the PNG and Bougainville governments, there is no record of this on the IPA database – a list of the registered shareholders is included below.

For Bougainvilleans concerned over their sovereignty and independence, this should not come as a surprise. The ABG big men talk the talk about independence and speaking with one voice, in reality many in Cabinet are criminals stealing meagre resources – this is no secret, its on the public record in the national court.

These men trade on peoples’ love for their country and government. They know this goodwill gives them virtual impunity. And with no free press on Bougainville, where would alternative sources of information come from. Who can access blogs like this from the village?

But the ABG are asleep at the wheel. Some may talk nationalism, but their main devotion is to money – a sickness Francis Ona reported on way back in 1988. If that means getting into bed with Port Moresby, at the cost of compatriots, they will do it, if the price is right. They only see the gold, not the blood.

When the referendum returns a yes vote, it will become apparent that the ABG is poorly administered and incapable of managing independence without in effect surrendering its sovereignty to a donor such as Australia, or China, who could fleet in consultants to prop up an ailing structure (whether they will is another question). The Big Men will blame the people of Panguna for resisting the mine. They will not take responsibility for the criminal thefts, and corrupt transactions, that are now well documented within the ABG. They will blame the people. 

Many years ago Francis Ona called out fake nationalists in love with money, one of whom is currently President.

In that spirit we should all be asking, if the ABG is placing the entire country’s chips on BCL reopening Panguna. Who is leading this keystone company? And who is this individual tied to?

BCL Share Registry

Bundle 1 – Number of shares 642157

CITICORP NOMINEES PTY LTD

Bundle 2 – Number of shares 4931743

JP MORGAN CUSTODIAL NOMINEES LIMITED

Bundle 3 – Number of shares 1620157

Thomas John BERESFORD

Bundle 4 – Number of shares 57977361

Company Share Register COMPANY SHARE REGISTER 

Bundle 5 – Number of shares 214887996

RIO TINTO LIMITED

Bundle 6 – Number of shares 76430809

THE INDEPENDENT STATE OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Bundle 7 – Number of shares 6027187

WESTPAC CUSTODIAN NOMINEES LIMITED

Bundle 8 – Number of shares 1657958

NATIONAL NOMINEES LIMITED

Bundle 9 – Number of shares 3600000

1-3263 BOUGAINVILLE COPPER FOUNDATION LIMITED

Bundle 10 – Number of shares 2561500

PUBLIC OFFICERS SUPERANNUATION FUND BOARD

Bundle 11 – Number of shares 30725632

ANZ NOMINEES LIMITED

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Bougainville Copper eyes a return to Panguna

panguna

Radio New Zealand | 6 March 2017

Bougainville Copper Ltd is laying out its plans for a possible return to the Panguna mine in central Bougainville.

The Panguna mine and BCL were at the heart of the divisions in the Papua New Guinea region that led to the ten year civil war and prompted a shut down of the mine and a pull out by the then Rio Tinto controlled company.

Rio Tinto is no longer involved, having walked away last year, giving its 53 percent shareholding to the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the PNG Government.

Late last month BCL presented a time line for its possible restart of mining to shareholders and the Australian Stock Exchange.

Chief executive Mark Hitchcock spoke to Don Wiseman about this and they hope to achieve their goals.

MARK HITCHCOCK: It has always been Bougainville Copper’s aim to return to mining on Bougainville and with the change in shareholding in June last year, this gave Bougainville Copper, as an independently run and managed PNG company, the chance to actually forge some of its plans to return to mining. So the plan for Stage Zero, which is what we are call it for December [2017] is to arrange some of the precedents that need to be done for us to get back on the ground in Bougainville and Panguna.

DON WISEMAN: A key part of that is this issue of these shares that were split between the ABG and PNG Governments. The ABG wants those shares. What’s going to happen to them?

MH: There is still a little bit of uncertainty around the 17.4 percent that Prime Minister O’Neill indicated would be given to the landowners of Bougainville. It’s part of our Stage Zero to get some understanding on how those shares will be handled by the PNG Government.

DW: There are several other issues of course. There is still some trust and acrimony as far as BCL goes – I know you are under different ownership now but you have to overcome that barrier, so how do you do that?

MH: Well Bougainville Copper does have a fairly good name and people do remember the Bougainville Copper days and some of the good things that were generated when Bougainville Copper was running the mine at Panguna. Like education was world class, medicine was world class, and lifestyle was very good and a lot of people still remember that, so you can discount some of the good will that was generated then. So we, being a reputable and honest company, returning, we have held the ground, we have held the position and we have always wanted to return and we would like to return on terms that everyone is happy with.

DW: There is this question of compensation that has been floating around for many, many years. Demands from Bougainvilleans for compensation for the social and environmental that have been blamed on Panguna.

MH: We see that as part of the negotiations moving forward and that any compensation that is considered would be dealt with during the lifecycle of the new mine and done on a community based, sort of project.

DW:  To go back to the question of a time line you have laid out a programme through to the end of 2020, by which stage you will be where?

MH: At 2020, if we can get a lot of things that we need done in 2017 we will have progressed doing all our studies and we will be at a stage where we have done a feasibility and we are ready to go and finance and start building the mine in 2020. So then it would be middle 2020s, a good five years to get the mine up and running after 2020.

DW: Yes although on your timeline which you have presented to the Stock Exchange in Australia you are going to need a fair amount of money, several hundred million dollars, before then, aren’t you, in terms of this preliminary work, so where is that going to come from?

MH: Part of the plan of having a staged process is to actually build the wealth of the company – it’s currently trading at 20 cents, or just below 20 cents Australian, and we believe there is a lot more wealth behind the company than that, and just building these stages and getting a lot more information we will build the value of the mine.   

DW: As far as the landowners and the ABG – why should they go down this road. What’s in it for them – re-opening Panguna and all those scars again?

MH: The autonomous Bougainville region has a referendum in 2019 where it will its future. Its future is dependent on there being an economy that can sustain themselves as a region and the Bougainville people see that they need a major project to actually fund their future.

DW: You have been involved with the company for a long time, you must have a sense of what most Bougainvilleans are thinking and there’s certainly been vocal opposition. Do you think that’s changing?

MH: Yes there has always been fairly widespread support for Bougainville Copper. There are detractors and there will always be detractors in all spheres of the world but I believe that the underlying people of Bougainville are supportive, because they do remember what they used to have when the mine was fully operational.

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No quick compo if Bougainville’s Panguna restarts

Panguna mine. Photo: Wellington Chocolate Factory

Panguna mine. Photo: Wellington Chocolate Factory

Radio New Zealand | 6 March 2017

The Panguna mine and the environmental and social problems that resulted from it were the key factor in the ten-year-long Bougainville civil war.

The company, now has new shareholding, including a big stake held by the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

There has long been a push for compensation but CEO Mark Hitchcock said he would expect any resolution of such a call to come once the mine is back in action.

“We see that as part of the negotiations moving forward and that any sort of compensation that is considered would be dealt with during the life cycle of a new mine and done on a community based sort of project.”

Mr Hitchcock said BCL laid out a timeline for a possible return to Panguna which would have the mine in production in the mid 2020s.

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Reject Rio deal for Bougainville: Parkop

panguna

Peterson Tseraha | Loop PNG | March 3, 2017

The deal set out by mining giant Rio Tinto for Bougainville is bad for the people, says NCD Governor Powes Parkop.

The Governor stated that he and his party, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), will focus on rejecting the Rio Tinto offer.

Speaking at a press conference upon his arrival in Buka last week, he said the people of Bougainville cannot be offered shares over a mine that doesn’t exist.

“It’s more like a ‘catch-22’, a share that amounts to nothing but if it does amount to something then we will be forced to re-open the mine,” Parkop said.

“We need an offer that is fair and equitable that suits us better in the lives that were lost and the destruction caused culturally.

“We need a much better deal from Rio CRA and even the PNG Government for Panguna especially, it is the mine that started us on a journey to becoming a nation.

“To give us an offer without compensating us is really ridiculous, with destruction and the loss of life this offer must be rejected,” he said.

“At the end of the day, it’s a catch-22 I give you nothing so that we can open the mine, which means we will be going back to square one,” Parkop said.

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Minister says mine can transform Bougainville

panguna-working

Sebastian Hakalits | Post Courier | 1 March 2017

BOUGAINVILLE Minister for Minerals and Energy Resources Robin Wilson says Panguna mine is the single largest project that can move Bougainville forward.

Mr Wilson said it would ease financial hardships for landowners of Panguna and Bougainville, therefore, it was in their interest to re-open the mine. He was speaking during the presentation by Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) of its future plans for Panguna mine. Mr Wilson urged the landowners re-open, adding. “you have the veto power and whatever decision you make must be for the good of the whole of Bougainville”.

“Let’s have one voice and move forward,” Mr Wilson said at the BCL presentation that was later graced with the initial payment of K5 million to two landowner associations in outstanding 1989 to 1990 compensation payments.

The other seven groups will be paid after completing the compiling and verifying names of families. They will be paid a total of more than K14 million.

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Panguna talks re-open

panguna

BCL insists 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.

“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.

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