MAC/20: Mines and Communities

BCL plans to return

Published by MAC on 2007-04-02

BCL plans to return

Postcourier

2nd April 2007

BOUGAINVILLE Copper Limited has adopted a comprehensive three-year plan to return to exploration and mining in PNG.

Company chairman Peter Taylor said in the company's annual report, released last week, that the company was also looking at starting the review of the Bougainville Copper Agreement. Mr Talyor said BCL was ready to return to do business in the event the exploration moratorium on Bougainville was lifted.

He said the company (BCL) at the moment was treating the need to re-establish understanding with its stakeholders including the Panguna mine landowners as an important step to return to Bougainville. "Restoring communication with parties involved in the Panguna mine including the landowners is an important area that we are looking at," he said.

Mr Taylor did not specify other areas in PNG which the company was planning to carryout business under its three-year plan.

BCL made a net profit of K3.6 million for last year.

But the board has decided against paying any dividend while shareholder funds increased to K378.2 million in 2006. The tax issue between the PNG Government and the company will also be addressed this year. Mr Taylor said mine assets were still not accessible at the Panguna mine.

He said to understand the true value of these assets and the extent to which they may be used for future mining and exploration, access to the mine site was needed.

"For this, BCL needs the support of local landowners and will be working to rebuild relations with them," Mr Taylor said.

"The ultimate aim is to obtain landowner support for exploration and mining,"he said. Mr Taylor said he expected the BCA re-negotiations to be revived to move on with the plans. He said while there had been reports about a possible resumption of exploration and mining on Bougainville, there was still a moratorium on new exploration and mining outside BCL's lease area. The National Government has agreed to review this moratorium but this has also been stalled.

Meanwhile, lawyer John Leahy has joined the board of BCL while David McLellan will not seek re-election during the company's annual general meeting next month.

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