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Bougainville Copper Ltd plans to restart Panguna Mine

BOUGAINVILLE Copper Ltd (BCL) carried out a new redevelopment study last year to identify a viable, phased re-start and expansion strategy for the Panguna mine in the Autonomous Region of Bougainville. Speaking at the company’s 2020 annual general meeting (AGM) last week BCL chairman Sir Melchior Togolo, said the new work built on a 2012 order of magnitude study which had indicated the redevelopment was viable based on a similar scale to the original operation. “The early outcomes have been quite encouraging in finding that a staged redevelopment approach – as opposed to a single, large through-put development – is potentially viable and could result in the mine becoming operational sooner and with lower early capital costs,” he said. Sir Melchior told the AGM that BCL had retained strong levels of support from customary landowners in the Panguna project area, particularly from members of the Panguna Development Corporation Ltd (PDCL). The PDCL is a 100 per cent landowner-owned and operated company whose members and board of directors are authorised agents for the blocks within the tenement area. BCL has been pleased to provide it with modest support during its establishment phase. Sir Melchior said last year, BCL had maintained an active presence in Bougainville through the work of its project and village liaison officers and had again supported a range of worthy community events and projects. BCL for example assisted the Buka Business Association with its first trade expo to promote local small and medium enterprises (SMEs), it supported vocational training for farmers and teachers and a water supply project. Sir Melchior paid tribute to the people of Bougainville and described last year’s referendum as a “remarkable display of peace and unity”. Following the referendum, PNG prime minister committed to transfer the state’s 36.4 per cent shareholding in BCL to the ABG and landowners. While this is yet to occur, it would make BCL a company clearly majority owned by Bougainvilleans. BCL reduced expenditure by K2 million last year compared to the previous year and the company remains debt free. The judicial review of the ABG’s previous decision to deny an extension of the company’s exploration licence is expected to proceed this year. Sir Melchior said BCL would continue to constructively engage with all stakeholders during this important post-referendum period for Bougainville. “We will, for example, keep implementing our programme of community support by backing worthwhile local projects and activities, particularly once the threat of the Covid-19 passes,” he said. “Above all else, we will continue to act in the best interests of all our shareholders in demonstrating Bougainville Copper’s intrinsic value as a reliable project partner for Panguna.” The National/PacificMiningWatch Next : Barrick Niugini files documents in court to Challenge PNG Govt decision
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