Our ESBC correspondent reported on
November 28th, 2008:
REOPENING of the abandoned Panguna copper/gold mine looks promising as the Bougainville Executive Council has agreed to invite Bougainville Copper Limited for a forum with the Panguna landowners and the Autonomous Bougainville Government.
According to legal advisors to the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the invitation for the forum will be sent to BCL as early as next week.
This will be the first time ever that BCL will be given a formal invitation to Bougainville after the company was forced to shut down its operations in 1989 due to armed conflict that started from claims over environmental damage caused by the company during its operations at Panguna.
Bougainville Copper Limited chairman and managing director Peter Taylor has also written a letter to ABG acting President John Tabinaman stating that “is its now appropriate time for active discussions on the future of mining at Panguna to begin”.
The Bougainville Executive Council deliberated on Mr Taylor’s letter during their sitting this week and came to an agreement to invite BCL executives including Mr Taylor and company secretary Mr Paul Coleman to Buka for the meeting.
The forum will also give BCL an opportunity to air its views on outstanding issues such as environmental damage, compensation and BCL’s future plans for the abandoned mine.
In another letter to Panguna landowners, Mr Taylor also said that BCL was keen to enter into the Bougainville Copper Agreement review and he further said that the review would encompass of the company’s explanations regarding mining and social issues at Panguna.
The review will encompass but will not be restricted to;
- MINING financial arrangement;
- ENVIRONMENTAL issues;
- INFRASTRUCTURE; and
- LANDOWNER reconciliation.
Mr Taylor said the BCA review is part of the ABG’s 15-stage and plan agreed to by the late President Joseph Kabui and the National Government.
BCL, once the operator of one of the largest open pit mines in the world, said for the Bougainville Copper Agreement review to be effective, all direct stakeholders should be involved as previously publicly stated.
These stakeholders are the National Government, the ABG, the landowners and BCL.
For the review to start, the ABG has to make a formal request to the National Government.
BCL would like to hold preliminary talks with the ABG and the landowners and BCL prefers that the ABG and the landowners should also make a formal request to the company to start talks before the agreement review talks start.
“BCL is committed to a restart of mining at Panguna if this is the wish of of the majority of landowners and Bougainvilleans,” Mr Taylor said.
Meanwhile the Order of Magnitude study initiated by BCL has found that there is potential for viable mining operation at Panguna but capital cost or redevelopment is likely to be high.
This study is the first step towards a decision on whether a full feasibility study into the mine’s re-opening is warranted. However study concludes that until the company has access to the mine site, it can not gain the degree of certainty needed for a full feasibility study.
“Given the need for site access before further technical and economic work can be undertaken the company will continue to concentrate on its relationship with landowners and Governments and ensure that all parties are fully briefed and involved in development discussions,” Mr Taylor said.