PAPUA New Guinea prime minister Peter O’Neill has indicated his support for Bougainville Copper Limited to resume operations on Bougainville.
Bougainville president John Momis said this will provide BCL with the level of assurance it needs to manage sovereign risk and take meaningful steps to start feasibility work.
Dr Momis said the prime minister had also agreed to establish a steering committee will include representation from the PNG and Bougainville governments, landowners and BCL.
The committee will be convened by an independent chairman to ensure all parties’ interests are balanced.
“I am pleased that the vast majority of landowners have now agreed that BCL should be given the opportunity to rehabilitate the mine,” said Dr Momis.
He said Bougainville must ensure that any future mining operations “are respectful to our people, protect our environment and that the benefits flow through to the people.”
After Rio Tinto divested its 53.8% equity in BCL last year, Bougainville for the first time has a 36.4% shareholding while PNG has the same. The balance is held by private investors.
The PNG government has made a commitment to divest its shares directly to the landowners of the defunct Panguna mine but this has not been received favourably, with the majority of Bougainvilleans believing the Autonomous Bougainville Government should be the recipient of the shares on behalf of the rest of the people of Bougainville who suffered through the 10 year civil war.