MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Rio denies Panguna talks

Published by MAC on 2006-03-15

Rio denies Panguna talks

by Jesse Riseborough, PNG Industry News

15th March 2006

A RIO TINTO spokesperson has poured cold water on current market speculation surrounding the resumption of operations at Bougainville Copper's massive Panguna copper-gold mine.

Rio spokesman Ian Head confirmed to PNGIndustryNews.net that PNG Minister for Mines Sam Akoitai had met with Rio chief executive of copper and exploration Tom Albanese, who is touted by many as a possible successor to current chief executive Leigh Clifford.

"He called in on his own initiative to see Rio Tinto and in essence he briefed us on the climate for mining investment in PNG," he said.

Head denied there was any discussion regarding a possible resumption of mining at Panguna and also denied talks had involved a possible lifting of the exploration moratorium on the island of Bougainville.

Akoitai is reportedly hosting a press conference in Port Moresby on Sunday to discuss the outcome of the London talks. PNGIndustryNews.net was unable to confirm this with the Department of Mining.

Rio Tinto holds a 53% stake in Bougainville Copper, which is presently being operated from Moresby by Rio Tinto Minerals staff.

Shares in the company closed up 28c (36%) on Wednesday at $A1.05.

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