MAC: Mines and Communities

A further push to the boat for Bougainville

Published by MAC on 2006-03-03

A further push to the boat for Bougainville

3rd March 2006

Just a week after London Calling asked whether new Papua New Guinea mining secretary, James Winjikas, would be "pushing out the boat for Bougainville" thanks to his previous association with Rio Tinto, the company announced renewed interest in the Panguna mine. [see:].

Panguna revisit mooted

by Postcourier

3rd March 2006

BOUGAINVILLE Copper Limited is re-assessing the possibility of revitalising the closed Panguna mine given the highs currently enjoyed by both copper and gold prices.

After reporting a net profit of AA48,000 (K114,538) earlier in the week, company secretary Paul Coleman told the that the time was now right to asses the future of Panguna. "With the minerals boom that is going on at the moment, Bougainville Copper has got to reinvent itself one way or another - whether it is Panguna or whether it is something else - the time is now right and there is a window of opportunity," Mr Coleman said. "It is really matters of working out what the Bougainvilleans themselves want and once they have made up their mind then I think the next stage is, do they want development and do they want mining? Or are they still cautious about it. "Once they have made up (their minds) on that issue, then we have got to discuss where Bougainville Copper fits into that whole picture.

If it fits in pretty well, then maybe we could start looking at doing things." Mr Coleman said the company, which was majority-held by resources Goliath Rio Tinto (53.58 per cent), had recently been in discussions with the PNG Government, which holds a 19 per cent stake, and now hoped to meet with the new autonomous government. "We have been in discussions with those guys, the National Government is definitely pushing it, the Minister for Mines is pushing it and it is now a matter of the Autonomous Government and us getting together," he said.

"That process has started but that is about as far as it has got. There is willingness on all parts, it is just a matter of getting all the parties together." According to Bougainville Copper Ltd's website, "company policy is still to ultimately divest the Bougainville assets". The Panguna mine operated from 1972 to 1989 and was closed after a series of violent attacks on employees.

Since evacuating all employees from the island in early 1990, the company has not been able to return to Panguna to assess the level of damage and deterioration to the significant assets left behind. BCL has no employees.

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