BOUGAINVILLE’S realistic option for rapid self-reliance and improved levels of service is large scale mining, re-elected Autonomous Bougainville President John Momis says.
Momis said re-opening the Panguna mine would provide “the best chance of early revenue” as it could open in six or seven years.
He said alternative new mining projects would take from 15 to 30 years from exploration to production.
“Under our March 2015 Bougainville Mining Act, customary land owners also own minerals. They can reject mining exploration and development,” Momis said.
“So Panguna will not re-open without landowner agreement, which means clear agreement by a clear majority of landowners, with no manipulation of consent.
“It is certainly possible Panguna will not re-open, if landowners oppose it, or if BCL (Bougainville Copper Ltd) don’t return and alternative developers can’t be found.
“But other communities want mining exploration and those possibilities will be evaluated.
“The new Bougainville Mining Act means any new mining will be on totally different terms from under the Bougainville Copper Agreement.
“The biggest protection is that no development will be possible unless both landowners and the ABG are satisfied with all the conditions for mining.”
In April, BCL chairman Peter Taylor said a study conducted by the company indicated that there would be a very high production level when opening a new mine at Panguna.
BCL is a subsidiary of Rio Tinto which holds a 54 per cent stake in the Panguna copper gold project, before it ceased operations in 1989.
In the 17 years prior to 1989, the Panguna mine produced concentrate containing 3 million tonnes of copper, 306 tonnes of gold and 784 tonnes of silver.
The production had a value of K5.2 billion representing about 44 per cent of Papua New Guinea’s exports over that period.
A total of K1.08 billion or 62 per cent of the net cash generated by the Panguna mine between 1972 and 1989 was contributed to the Government. The National