MAC: Mines and Communities

Panguna Copper Mine To Remain Closed: Akoitai

Published by MAC on 2005-06-24
Source: The National

Panguna copper mine to remain closed: Akoitai

By Clifford Faiparik, The National

24 June 2005

The Panguna copper mine will remain closed for an indefinite period despite the Bougainvilleans having their own government system, said Mining Minister Sam Akoitai.“Who knows it may take another 20 years for an agreement to be reached that will benefit every one who is involved with the mine.

“The opening of the mine is a sensitive issue. About 20,000 people have died during the 16-year-old crisis regarding the operation of the mine.

“Thus there must be a good agreement between the landowners, developers, Bougainville and the National Government. Also it will need about K2billion to re-open,” said Mr Akoitai.Mr Akoitai said this yesterday to clarify rumors that the mine will be opened following the formation of the Bougainville Autonomous Government.

“I have received a letter from the Bougainville administration office dated June 07, advising me of a decision for an urgent review of the Bougainville Copper Agreement Act 1967, and that under their request for the existing moratorium on exploration and mining on Bougainville, gazetted on 22nd April 1971, be revoked, and further advised that Bougainville is now cleared for mineral exploration. “Thus I have directed my Department to coordinate with the Attorney General and other Government agencies to urgently prepare a submission for me to advise the National Executive Council and Government on the decision of the Bougainville Administration and the urgency of the National Government to revoke the existing moratorium and be advised of the Administration’s decided clearance for the return of mineral exploration on Bougainville.”

Mr Akoitai said just because he had received the letter, it did not mean that the mine will soon be re-opened.

“I have already talked with CRA regarding the opening of the mine. But they are still tangled up with the National Court ordering them to pay more than K28millin in outstanding taxes to the Internal Revenue Commission.”

During the inauguration ceremony on Bougainville, President Joseph Kabui said that with Mr Akoitai, a fellow Bougainvillean as the mining minister, the future of the Panguna copper mine will be a priority of the new Bougainville Autonomous Government.

“The very sensitive issue of Bougainville Copper Limited is a matter that we will endeavour to resolve early in our political life while we have a member from Bougainville as Minister for Mining in the National Government. Efforts will be made for negotiations with the National Government and BCL as soon as practicable,’’ said Mr Kabui.

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