Posts Categorized: Bougainville Copper Limited

Rio walking away from environmental responsibility – Momis

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The President of Bougainville, Chief John Momis, has expressed deep anger at Rio Tinto’s refusal to accept responsibility for the environmental and other damage done by the Panguna mine and has insisted that Rio accept responsibility for mining legacy issues.

“When I met [Rio Tinto] officials… in Port Moresby, they flatly rejected any responsibility for their contribution to the damage done by the Panguna Mine,” President Momis said

“Rio’s officials gave me two reasons for not accepting responsibility for mine impacts: first, Rio operated under the PNG law of the day; second, they were forced out of Panguna by the conflict.

“The truth is Rio Tinto generated huge revenues from what we all now know was the terrible injustice of its Bougainville mining operations. The mine shut down in 1989 only because anger over that injustice generated demands for a renegotiated agreement.

“It’s now clear the BCA was deeply unjust. It ignored environmental damage and social impacts. Only a tiny share of mine revenue was distributed to landowners and to the North Solomons Provincial Government,” President Momis continued.

“The gross injustice of the BCA has since been recognised by Rio. As a result it made major changes to its own policies, especially in relation to landowners. It accepted new standards of sustainable development as a founder of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM).

“Rio is now deeply hypocritical in its blatant disregard of the higher corporate responsibility standards it says it has adopted.

“It now seems Rio has no commitment to social responsibility or sustainable development principles. It talks those principles only when that helps its profits. But it throws them out when costs to its bottom line could be involved.

“Now Rio Tinto proposes to walk away from responsibility for the effects of the injustice of its highly profitable operations.

“Rio cannot rely on grossly unjust past laws to escape its contemporary responsibilities for what we now know was wrong. Corporate social responsibility means responsible companies accept that their responsibilities go beyond the legal requirements of the day.

“I am writing to the Managing Director of Rio Tinto asking him to reconsider not only the Rio decision about its shares, but also its refusal to deal with its Panguna legacy responsibilities.

“I am also writing to the International Council of Metals and Mining asking them to end Rio Tinto’s membership because of its failure to honour the ICMM’s 10 Principles for Sustainable Development Performance.

“Finally, I am seeking the earliest possible meeting with Prime Minister O’Neill to discuss how best to defuse the dangerous situation created by Rio’s decision on its shares in BCL.”

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Rio Tinto transfers BCL shares to independent trustee

Rio Tinto has today transferred its 53.8 per cent shareholding in Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) to an independent trustee.

Equity Trustees Limited will manage the distribution of these shares between the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) for the benefit of all the Panguna landowners and the people of Bougainville, and the Independent State of Papua New Guinea (PNG).

Under the trust deed, the ABG has the opportunity to receive 68 per cent of Rio Tinto’s shareholding (which equates to 36.4 per cent of BCL’s shares) from the independent trustee for no consideration and PNG is entitled to the remaining 32 per cent (which equates to 17.4 per cent of BCL’s shares).

The ABG and PNG will both hold an equal share in BCL of 36.4 per cent if the transfers are completed. This ensures both parties are equally involved in any consideration and decision-making around the future of the Panguna mine.

The Trust Deed determines that should either beneficiary of the trust not apply for the transfer of the BCL shares attributable to them from the trustee within two months, then those shares will be made available to the other party.

Rio Tinto Copper & Coal chief executive Chris Salisbury said “Our review looked at a broad range of options and by distributing our shares in this way we aim to provide landowners, those closest to the mine, and all the people of Bougainville a greater say in the future of Panguna. The ultimate distribution of our shares also provides a platform for the ABG and PNG Government to work together on future options for the resource.”

In accordance with the existing management agreement with BCL, Rio Tinto will today give the required six months’ notice to terminate the arrangement. Although Rio Tinto will no longer hold any interest in BCL, Rio Tinto will continue to meet its obligations under the agreement during that period to ensure an orderly transition in the shareholdings of the company. BCL chairman Peter Taylor will resign with immediate effect but he will continue to be available to provide services to the board during this transition period.

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Reconciliation before exploration say Panguna mine associations

 

department-president

The nine associations representing landowners of the former Panguna mine have made a request to Bougainville President, Chief John Momis, that any lift of the moratorium on mining exploration be delayed until after a Bel Kol ceremony is held with Bougainville Copper Limited.

“[Bel Kol] has been requested by the landowners,” President Momis stated.

“They want to see this customary first step towards reconciliation about mining-related issues that caused conflict completed before there is any formal step towards resumption of large-scale mining in Bougainville.

“They are asking all Bougainvilleans and outside mining interests to respect their wishes in this regard.”

The President has stated that a decision on the moratorium may not be made until October and is dependent on the successful implementation regulatory arrangement for small scale mining.

The Autonomous Bougainville Government Mining Act limits the number of simultaneous large-scale mines to two.

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BCL committed to sustainable mining vision

The Chairman and Managing Director of Bougainville Copper Limited, Mr Peter Taylor, told the 2016 Annual General Meeting that the company remains committed to the vision of sustainable mining on Bougainville.

In his address to the AGM held at the Grand Papua Hotel in Port Moresby on Wednesday, 2 June 2016, Mr Taylor outlined the activities of the past year and was positive about the growing strength of the company’s relationships in the autonomous region.

“The company has had positive engagement with many of the local interest groups from the project area, including landowners,” Mr Taylor told the audience, which included shareholders.

“While there are some landowners opposed to reopening the mine for a range of reasons there appears to be a clear majority in favour of redevelopment.

“Throughout the year,” Mr Taylor continued, “the company management maintained its own fruitful dialogue with a wide range of Bougainvillean interest groups.

“There is a wide range of interests, and we are trying to listen to them all.”

Mr Taylor also stated that BCL is still committed to the potential resumption of mining.

“The vision to return to active exploration and profitable, sustainable mining remains,” Mr Taylor said.

“The company is well positioned to recognise the opportunities inherent in recent challenges, and to maintain progress in a new year.

“I believe a majority of the Bougainville people, who will soon participate in a referendum on Independence, clearly see the importance of economic self-sufficiency that could potentially be provided by mineral resource exploration and development.”

The AGM also saw the re-election of Dame Carol Kidu to the BCL board of directors. Dame Carol joined the board in April 2013.

Also present at the AGM were the other members of the BCL board, Sir Rabbie Namaliu, Robert Burns, Adam J. Burley and the BCL Company Secretary, Mark Hitchcock.

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Eulogy for Paul Derek Coleman OBE

paulThis has been adapted with the kind permission of Captain Stuart Cooper from the eulogy he delivered at the funeral service for Paul, held at the Cathedral of St Stephen Brisbane on 11 September 2015

Paul was born in Cyprus on 4 July 1957. His dad was serving in the British Army at the time and the family was away from the UK on an overseas posting.

Later events saw Paul spend some of his life and schooling in Benghazi in Africa, in England and in Germany, so he was quite a seasoned little traveller by the time his mum and dad graced us with his presence when they chose to immigrate here in 1972, eventually settling in Port Lincoln in South Australia.

I understand that his grandfather on his mum’s side was the last British commandant of the now famous UNESCO heritage site called the Red Fort in Delhi in India. Perhaps this esteemed military lineage in his family was the reason that he also chose to spend a short time himself in the Australian army. His natural talents were immediately recognized to the extent that he was offered a commission to become an officer. In typically modest style, Paul decided that he wanted to stick with his new found mates and serve out his time as a regular digger.

I do recall him telling me once about a particularly arduous route march where they were given a ludicrously short time to complete the course. The army dangled the usual carrot at them by saying that should they achieve this then they could have the coming weekend off but, if anyone was to fall by the wayside, then the entire group would be confined to barracks for the weekend while repeating the exercise until they all got it right. Paul was evidently teamed up with a much larger and heavier compatriot than he was, but who was clearly suffering quite badly from the effects of this physical exertion and looked like wilting before the finish line. Unperturbed, Paul lifted him over his shoulders fireman style and, complete with the additional pack and weapon, managed to struggle across the line in time carrying his mate. Such was the physical and mental strength, coupled with a dogged determination, which this giant of a man could produce when called upon.

In August 1981­, after his discharge from the army and finally completing his university studies to become a geologist, Paul joined­ CRA, as Rio Tinto was formerly known back in those days.

Paul’s early years with the company saw him in more of an administrative role, starting off in Townsville before then moving to Mt Isa. His excellent work performances soon gave him a reputation of being a ‘Mr. Fix-it’ and the go to man when times were tough. Thus, in typical Aussie fashion, he was given a nickname and dubbed ‘Radar’, after that well known character in the popular television series M*A*S*H. I believe that he didn’t really appreciate this moniker, but I think it was quite clever and very apt.

Paul then moved to the Sydney office in 1986, where his work ethic continued to impress to the extent that a senior geologist within the Company suggested that he go to PNG, as he could clearly see that Paul possessed the necessary attributes to get on with the difficult jobs while having the ability at the same time to get along with just about everybody.

I can most definitely attest to this latter thought, for when he arrived in PNG in 1989 I met him for the first time when he came to join our running club, Boroko Hash House Harriers. Back in those days, we preferred to be known as a drinking club with a running problem, so Paul fit in just fine!

There isn’t a person in that group back in those days who didn’t consider Paul to be one of the nicest, most unselfish, and most generous men that God ever put air into. Unfortunately, the workplace wasn’t always that kind to Paul. He was involved with a mining project in a remote location called Mt Kare where, for various reasons, the landowners were becoming increasingly disenchanted and took matters into their own hands. The subsequent burning of a helicopter, the presence of guns and shots being fired, rapid evacuations of personnel and the looting and destruction of the camp, which finally resulted in the abandonment of the whole project, had all the hallmarks of a Hollywood blockbuster, in which Paul would most certainly have had one of the starring roles.

With no Mt. Kare, Paul returned to the head office in Melbourne around 1994/95 to be the Property Manager. Paul’s lust for travel and adventure, and no doubt also missing his mates in PNG, saw him return to the head office in Port Moresby in 1996 to be the manager of Systems and Administration, which also included an involvement in Bougainville Copper Ltd, the company that oversaw the huge, world-class copper mine at Panguna on Bougainville Island. It was during this second tour of PNG that he met and married his lovely wife Kym who has been an absolute rock throughout and the light of his life.

Paul was faced with some incredible challenges that emerged in those days, including the “Sandline Affair” (a mercenary group engaged by the PNG Government to retake the Bougainville mine that lead to the Government’s dismissal) and litigation in the U.S. Federal Court that found its way to the U.S. Supreme Court some 13 years later. There was also a major issue with tax as well as exchange controls that threatened the finances of Bougainville Copper Limited. In no small way Paul, contributed to a satisfactory outcome for both Rio Tinto and BCL in all those matters.

The quality of his work and his incredible devotion to the needs of others saw the Government of PNG recommend him for the award of the Order of the British Empire for services to commerce, the mining sector and to charities. This prestigious award was bestowed upon him in person by Prince William in Buckingham Palace last year.

For reasons that we are all aware, Paul finally retired from Rio in August 2015 ­ just last month ­ as the Rio Tinto Country Manager PNG and Company Secretary of Bougainville Copper Limited. A truly remarkable, loyal, dedicated and professional service provided to the one organization for some 34 years.

The Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea has conveyed his condolences, stating, in part, that PNG has lost a good friend. There has been a very understandable outpouring of condolence messages received, ­unfortunately far more than time would permit for me to read them all but the essence of those messages has been encapsulated in a letter from the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum.

Paul let it be known that after the funeral service he wanted to buy the gathering a drink or two at one of his favourite watering holes “The Alliance Hotel” situated on the corner of Boundary and Leichardt Streets in Spring Hill.

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BCL chairman addresses Annual General Meeting (transcript)

peter-taylor

The following is a transcript of the address given by BCL Chairman Peter Taylor to the Annual General Meeting in Port Moresby on Wednesday 29 April 2015. A PDF of the transcript can be downloaded here.

The Annual General Meeting gives me an opportunity, as chairman, to make a statement concerning the up-to-date affairs of the company. Copies of this statement will be distributed as you leave today, and with your permission, I would now like to present it.

Mining Legislation

The most significant event to impact the company in 2014 was the passing of new mining legislation by the Autonomous Bougainville Government, which creates uncertainty regarding Bougainville Copper’s rights to mining and exploration licences. The Bougainville Mining Act 2015 was passed on April 1, substantially mirrors the clauses of the Interim Mining Act, which has reclassed the existing Special Mining Lease as an Exploration Licence. There remains uncertainty over the seven (7) leases for mining purposes.

The Company made applications for new licenses and to affirm rights which appear to have been impacted by the interim ABG mining legislation. These applications have been declined. The final Bougainville Mining Act 2015 prevents the Mining Registrar from accepting or registering applications for tenements before October 1, 2015.

The company is taking some comfort from correspondence and continued dialogue with the ABG and President Momis where he acknowledges that the company is a holder of a Special Mining Lease prior to the Act coming into force. The Act substitutes the Special Mining Lease (SML) with an Exploration Licence. The Company will seek formal granting of the exploration licence and exclusive access to the SML area.

Given the potential impact of the new legislation, the Board has decided to take a full impairment of the value of the mine assets, and to restrict the flow of funds into some of BCL’s work programs. The impairment dramatically decreased the value of the company fixed assets and has resulted in a corresponding impairment expense in the Statement of Comprehensive Income. I will discuss the impact of the impairment shortly when I summarise the 2014 results.

Company representatives continue to engage with the National Government and the Autonomous Bougainville Government seeking clarification of the company’s rights, and at the same time to explore legal options, as well as taking steps to protect BCL’s priority position should re-commencement of mining at Panguna be viable and approved.

The company’s major shareholder Rio Tinto announced in August 2014 “in light of recent developments in Papua New Guinea, including the new mining legislation passed earlier this month by the Autonomous Bougainville Government, Rio Tinto has decided now is an appropriate time to review all options for its 53.83 per cent stake in Bougainville Copper Ltd”

The review is ongoing.

President John Momis has emphasised that the new mining legislation was needed to address unregulated mining activity on Bougainville, and was not aimed at discouraging BCL. President Momis has supported redevelopment of the Panguna mine, subject to community support.

Given the uncertainty the company has minimised its Bougainville work programs.

Financial Results

The results for the year ended December 31, 2014 as reported in the Annual Report, record an operating loss of K9.1 million and an impairment charge of K166.6 million which equates to an overall loss of K175.7 million. This compares with the profit of K6.8 million in the previous year. The impairment charge reflects the diminishing rights of the company to the mine assets and resources with the directors acting prudently in impairing the mining assets completely. We continue to seek advice regarding all our options.

The value of the mining assets in 2013 was K197.9 million and after the asset revaluation reserve of K31.3 was reversed the net impact of the impairment recorded in the statement of comprehensive income was 166.6 million.

Revenue from Interest and Dividends (K4.9m) was slightly lower than budget (K5.1m).

Operational expenditure overall (K14.1m) was lower than budget (K15.9), reflecting the scaling back of work programs.

The company will not pay a dividend.

The company has sufficient funds to cover its recurrent expenditure under the current three year plan and is debt free.

Taxation

I am pleased to report to the shareholders that the company has negotiated a settlement with the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Commission (IRC) in PNG. A scheduled second mediation occurred on 2nd April 2015. I am able to report the court has confirmed the company will receive back K39.7 million from the funds held on term deposit with the Registrar of the High Court. This concludes this long outstanding matter.

There was a total of K70.6 million reported in the 2014 Financial Statements as receivable. The IRC was paid K13.0 million in addition to K4.4 million of interest withholding tax. K14.0 million was agreed to be paid to the IRC in settlement from the K53.2 million, held on IBD for the national court, which leaves the Company with around K40 million.

Financial Assets and Investment strategy

At the end of 2014 Bougainville Copper’s liquid assets were K4.7 million in cash and K102 million in Australian equities. The company’ financial position is linked to the performance of the Australian equities market, which is in a positive phase.

In 2014 Bougainville Copper’s Australian Equities Portfolio, performed broadly in line with the Australian Stock Market.

It is intended to continue with the current investment strategy, for as long as the investment committee deems this to be the best option, or until such time as equities need to be sold to fund further work programs.

The company’s cash position is enhanced as a result of the conclusion of the taxation dispute.

Governance

Bougainville Copper has governance reporting obligations to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). A statement on the company’s compliance with the ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations is contained within the annual report. In addition, the company has adopted policies that seek to comply with Rio Tinto’s comprehensive range of policies including safety, environment, financial management and other governance practices. The company has chosen to early adopt the latest edition of the ASX principles, for the 2014 Financial Statements, one year before the mandatory adoption date.

Safety and Risk Management

Bougainville Copper is particularly safety conscious and has in place a comprehensive set of safety standards to ensure that it provides a safe working environment and that its employees and contractors comply with best practice safety procedures. The company complies with the requirements of the Rio Tinto safety policy.

The management of Bougainville Copper undertakes regular risk reviews.

Bougainville Copper Foundation

Bougainville Copper has continued to support the work of the Bougainville Copper Foundation. This is an independent, not-for-profit company that has been funded by Bougainville Copper since its inception.

In 2014, as in previous years, the Foundation had more than 100 Bougainville students on scholarships. Many are continuing to be supported in 2015.

The Foundation also undertakes special project on a needs basis with the emphasis placed on education, peace and good governance.

The Foundation is proud of its achievements and those of its former scholars who are contributing to the development of Bougainville.

The Foundation continues to review its objectives and future direction. As mentioned, the Foundation is an independent body, and it is hoped that its range of activities will not be materially reduced by the factors that are now constraining some of BCL’s social and work programs.

I will now report on some other current events which have a bearing on the company’s prospects and its progress towards the vision of reopening the mine.

Work Programs

In view of recent actions of the Bougainville legislature, funding to progress all studies and welfare programs will be limited until uncertainties of tenure and the legislative regime are clarified.

During the period, limited work continued to refine the 2013 Order of Magnitude Study, which is an exercise aimed at giving the company guidance as to the most appropriate and cost effective way to re-develop the Panguna resource. It is one of the Board’s major tools in evaluating options going forward.

The Order of Magnitude Study is based on many assumptions including commodity prices, market demand, investor risk, opportunity costs, security of tenure and others. In brief it describes a new mine at Panguna processing between 60 million and 90 million tonnes of ore per annum, over a mine life of 24 years, with an estimated capital cost of 5.2 billion US dollars, as estimated in 2013.Further, more detailed studies, such as a pre-feasibility study and a feasibility study are required to confidently determine the potential economic viability of re-opening the mine. Only upon completion of those studies will the Board be sufficiently informed to take a decision whether or not to proceed with financing and commencement of construction.

The time-line to first production could be between five and seven years from the date of approval and financing.

Many of the assumptions, including the size of the resource, the life of the mine, and the start-up cost, may vary significantly when the company gains access to the former mine site and undertakes further work.

Several other studies were initiated by the company, in conjunction with the Bougainville Administration, aimed at providing a clearer picture of the environmental conditions, the needs of the population, training and employment readiness, as well as land ownership and social mapping. However the company is not in a position to commit to funding these studies until tenure is assured.

Bel Kol

Representatives of the customary landowners from the mine lease areas have requested that Bougainville Copper perform a cultural ceremony with them, Bel Kol.

The ceremony is aimed at restoring relationships between Bougainville Copper, landowners, the Autonomous Bougainville Government, ex-combatants and community leaders.

Significant progress was made towards Bel Kol by the end of 2014. A senior Bougainville Copper manager began regular travel and participated in discussions in Central Bougainville.

Bel Kol is now postponed until after the Bougainville elections. As a gesture of goodwill, the company will make commitments to support programs focused towards health and education initiatives.

The company has asked for open access to Panguna and the area covered by the original Special Mining Lease, assurances of safety, and an invitation to establish a presence in Arawa, as a base for field work, baseline studies and social mapping previously mentioned, and for the recruitment of local people to participate in drilling and other evaluation and de-risking programs

A training program has been jointly designed, to be supported by the company, to prepare members of the lost generation for work opportunities.

Joint Panguna Negotiations

The Joint Panguna Negotiation Coordination Committee (JPNCC) consisting of National Government and ABG representatives, together with landowner and company delegates, was active in 2014 in defining several baseline studies and preparing to implement them.

The JPNCC has established a Multi Trust Fund, to manage joint monies including aid, and to conduct the process of tendering and awarding the baseline studies, in order to vest the findings of studies with arms-length transparency, and credibility with all parties. The Trust Fund formally came into effect in November 2014.

Senior PNG statesman Sir Peter Barter accepted chairmanship of the Multi Trust Fund, and as a respected Bougainville peace-maker, reminded the people of his long held view that there can be no meaningful autonomy without a viable economy.

Throughout the year, company management maintained its own fruitful dialogue with a wide range of Bougainvillean interest groups, through regular meetings at Buka, Arawa and Kieta, with landowners, ex-combatants, women’s groups, ABG agencies, aid donors and other stakeholders.

Events on Bougainville

There have been a number of developments in Bougainville, including Prime Minister Peter O’Neill who visited Bougainville and Panguna in January 2014, and visited again in December 2014 to re-open the Aropa airport.

Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop visited the region.

Preparations for elections to the Parliament of the Autonomous Bougainville Region are gathering pace, polling scheduled for May 2015, with results known during June.

President John Momis is one of nine candidates seeking election.

There has been a re-structure of the Bougainville Public Service administration.

The relationship between President Momis, his government, and the Board and management of Bougainville Copper remains cordial.

The regulatory regime and the company’s position

The practical effect of the permanent mining legislation requires further clarification so that the long term mining regime for Bougainville is settled, allowing the company to factor these terms into its assessment of the viability of the potential mine redevelopment.

The next phase of study, a pre-feasibility study on reopening the mine, will be very expensive, and requires certainty of a workable mining regime and conditions prior to committing the study funds.

I wish to restate that even if further studies confirm that recommencement of mining is economically attractive, mining at Panguna cannot recommence unless all parties: the Landowners, the Autonomous Bougainville Government, the National Government of PNG, and BCL, are acting in close accord, now and into the future.

Funding and sovereign risk assurance for the project will require a united effort. Investors also need a fair and stable regulatory regime that gives them the confidence to commit to a project that will require billions of dollars of investment.

Conclusion

Let me assure you that the vision to return to active exploration and profitable, sustainable mining remains, with the active support of many local stakeholders.

The Board and Management of Bougainville Copper Ltd are well positioned to recognise the opportunities inherent in recent challenges, and to maintain progress in a new year.

I believe the economic self-sufficiency of Bougainville needs the successful development of Panguna.

The company faces the coming year with resolve and determination.

For your further information, I remind you that reports and commentaries of the company’s activities are regularly reported to the Australian Securities Exchange and associated media, and can also be accessed on our website.

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BCL annual general meeting to be held in POM today

The 2015 Annual General Meeting for Bougainville Copper Limited will be held in Port Moresby today, Wednesday 29 April.

The AGM is being held at the Grand Papua Hotel located on Mary Street in downtown Port Moresby and will get underway at 11am.

The notice of meeting, proxy form, explanatory notes and annual report were mailed to shareholders on 23rd March 2015.

The “Notice of Annual General Meeting” for the company, along with the proxy forms and explanatory notes, can be found here.

 

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President Momis open to further mineral exploration

President of Bougainville, Chief Dr John Momis, has said that the new mining law is not about Panguna, or Bougainville Copper Limited, but a rather it’s a law about the future of the whole of Bougainville.

“At this stage, the ABG does not know whether Panguna will ever re-open, but we also know that there are leaders and communities in other parts of Bougainville that want mineral exploration and as always, my government remains ready to talk to such areas,” President Momis told Bougainville Parliament at the second reading of the legislation.

The ABG is currently considering allowing large-scale mining again is because of its need for revenue.

“We lack even the most basic acceptable standards in essential services, like health and education,” Dr Momis said.

“We lag behind the rest of the world. Without significant ABG revenue, that situation will never change.”

“The best possible hospitals, health centres, early childhood centres, schools, universities, technical education centres, clean power, good roads to all accessible areas and good shipping services; these things are the essential basics for us gradually developing a sustainable economy where all share in benefits.

“Right now we Bougainvilleans are not much better than beggars. We beg for our entitlements from the National Government. We beg and cajole the donors,” Dr Momis continued.

“True autonomy, or true independence, will only come when we have our own sources of revenue, capable of providing the best possible services to our people.

“It is an unfortunate truth that the only way any of us can see of generating this revenue is mining, but we need to approach this with great care.

“Mining itself is not a sustainable activity, as the minerals are a finite resource, and once they are gone they are never replaced, so the key will be to use the mining revenue wisely, to promote and generate sustainable economic growth.”

Bougainville will need to invest in in health, education, clean power, and good transport, but there is still uncertainty about a potential future mining project.

“[I have] no idea if BCL will return,” Dr Momis said.

“BCL’s parent company, Rio Tinto, is in the process of undertaking a review of its investment in BCL.

“It’s entirely possible Rio will decide to walk away from that investment; if that happened, we would have to look at other options.

“There are many difficulties involved when considering re-opening Panguna; there are divisions about the issues involved.

“There are high expectations about compensation and related issues and if demands of this kind are too high, the project will not be economically viable.”

The ABG is not focused solely on large mines and is strongly  supporting  small-scale mining through an innovative system of Community Mining Licences administered by Councils of Elders.

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Medical project addresses congenital birth defects

BCL website

Gilberta Roland is fifteen months old and weighs just eight kilos. The tiny girl was born with a congenitally deformed face but is now in the healing hands of facial surgeons who have worked skilfully to offer her a better future.

Along with her mother, Judith Koletin, Gilberta travelled from Lontis Village on Buka Island with assistance from Rio Tinto, the parent company of Bougainville Copper Limited.

Gilberta is participating in a program sponsored by a group of organisations – including Operation of Hope and PNG’s Pacific International Hospital – which provide surgery free of charge to repair hare lips, cleft palates and other birth deformities which cause both physical and psychological suffering amongst PNG children.

Paediatrician Dr Mathias Tovulu, based at the Buka General Hospital, attended the surgical session as an observer.

He had selected five young Bougainvilleans who he believed would benefit from the facial surgery.

“These conditions are congenital, passing from mother to child in the early stages of pregnancy,” Dr Tovulu said.

“Facial and oral malformations affect facial expression and speech and can cause shame and discrimination in the life of the child and its family.

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UNDP report highlights resource industry importance

By Veronica Hannette

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the Papua New Guinea National Human Development Report 2014 in December last year at a conference held in Buka, Bougainville.

This is the second such report published, with the first edition published in 1998.

The National Human Development report contains research in to Papua New Guinea and the Pacific and how to address problems in government and private sectors including issues affecting rural areas.

UNDP Resident Representative, Hemansu Roy Trivedy, stated that PNG has potential strengths to boost its economy, especially with consecutive economic growths.

“This National Human Development Report seeks to focus on key choices and decisions that leaders need to make in the short and medium term to ensure that human development outcomes are maximised,” Mr Trivedy said.

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