Bougainville Copper to reopen PNG mine

The Panguna copper mine on the Papua New Guinea island of Bougainville could reopen within five years.

The operators of the mine, Rio Tinto subsidiary Bougainville Copper has learnt from past mistakes and will take a new approach to running the mine, according to chairman Peter Taylor.

Taylor made the comments at the recent Papua New Guinea Australia Business Forum.

In April it was reported that the company was considering reopening the controversial mine.

The mine was closed due to the civil war two decades ago and Taylor said the company wants landowners and Bougainville’s autonomous government to have involvement in the planning and profits from the operation.

He has outlined a timeframe of three to five years for the mine to reopen, but cautioned that despite the progress in the country, there will still be issues to deal with.

The company hopes to get talks on the Bougainville Copper Agreement underway this year.

Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown has given his opinion on Australian companies operating in PNG, saying they should have to operate under the same environmental standards abroad as they do locally.

He told Pacific Beat the responsibility lies with the PN government to outline the rules and restrictions on Australian companies operating there.

"We should have a requirement that Australian corporations acting overseas – whether it’s in PNG or Bolivia – act according to Australian standards," he said.

"We require that as citizens, and we should require it of mining corporations.

"Secondly, Australian companies need to be much more open about the environmental standards that they are agreeing to in PNG, about the exchange of moneys that occurs in the political arena in PNG.

"There is concern that you can negotiate mining licenses in PNG if you have enough money."

Brown believes the concerns of local landowners in the country are being overlooked.

"[There’s] a lot of concern by landowners that they just don’t have a say – that they’re being sidelined by the powerful connections between Australian mining companies and the governments of the day in PNG.

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