Rio Tinto ‘reviewing’ future of Bougainville copper mine

Rio Tinto has announced it is reviewing its continued holding in the Bougainville copper mine following a bill passed by the island's parliament.

Earlier this month the Bougainville parliament passed a new bill completing the drawdown of mining powers from the PNG national government to the autonomous region.

The Bougainville Mining (Transitional Arrangements) Bill 2014 was passed on Friday last week, and heralded as an historic event in a region torn by ten years of civil conflict over the Panguna Copper Mine.

The new bill means Rio Tinto will lose seven exploration licences and their special mining lease for Panguna.

The bill is considered a world first for the 'unprecedented rights' it gives to local landowners.

The announcement of this new bill has raised concerns over the mine's future.

On the back of this Rio Tinto has announced its intention to 'review options' at the mine.

"Rio Tinto has decided now is an appropriate time to review all options for its 53.83 per cent stake in Bouganville Copper," it said in a company statement.

"For some time, Bougainville Copper has been involved in discussions with the Government of Papua New Guinea, the Autonomous Bougainville Government and landowners about whether it would participate in a future potential return to mining at Panguna," Rio Tinto said.

The mine was closed due to civil war on the island.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.