ABG continues Panguna push

RE-OPENING the giant Panguna copper-gold mine is the highest priority issue for Autonomous Bougainville Government president Dr John Momis.
ABG continues Panguna push ABG continues Panguna push ABG continues Panguna push ABG continues Panguna push ABG continues Panguna push

He updated PNG government members on this issue during recent talks in east New Britain capital, Kokopo.

According to the Post-Courier, Momis requested that the Panguna re-opening process be treated as a special agenda item for all future meetings of the joint supervisory board shared by the two governments "until the matter is concluded".

Momis reportedly said his government was working on mining and petroleum laws and draft instructions were approved for a bill on a "transitional ABG Mining Act".

He reportedly expects this legislation to curtail any foreign-owned companies in the ABG region that have operated without consultation of either his or the PNG governments.

Rio Tinto subsidiary Bougainville Copper is clearly not in this camp, and getting community approval to re-open its Panguna mine is one of the biggest challenges - especially as high copper prices continue to improve the business case.

There were about 600 landowners or landowner representatives of the 1980 compensation agreement for the mine - providing plenty of scope for differences of opinion.

Panguna was the world's fourth-largest copper mine in the months before it closed in 1989, with Bougainville Island subsequently embroiled in years of civil war.

The mine produced nine million ounces of gold and three million tonnes of copper from 1972.

The Panguna permits under the existing BCA allow for mining up to 2032.

The ore body at Panguna is only partially mined, with large available reserves.

In the mine's last year of operation, estimated mill feed was at 691Mt at 0.4% copper and 0.47 grams per tonne gold.

Rio Tinto owns about 54% of Bougainville Copper.

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