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ABG and Panguna Stakeholders forge unified path forward after week-long consultations

The week-long community engagement program for the Panguna mine-affected areas ended today in Arawa Town, seeing all stakeholders unified in support for the redevelopment of the Panguna mine.

Beginning on Monday this week, the EL-01 Administrative Oversight Committee led by the ABG Acting Chief Secretary Kearnneth Nanei and key department heads met veterans and Panguna Landowning communities from Moroni, Dapera, Pirurari and Onove villages on Monday and Tuesday.

On Wednesday the ABG team met with landowners in Guava, Mosinau and Kokore villages. On Thursday at the Pakia Catholic Chapel, the team met with landowners in the Parakake, Pakia, Siredongsi, Mainku, Korokoro and Ikipute villages. Today the awareness was completed with Panguna landowners residing in Sunua, Paraiano and Kupei villages at the Sharp Memorial Youth Centre in Arawa.

The community engagement focused on communicating correct and vital information about the issuance of EL-01 to Bougainville Copper Limited and address some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) concerning the issuance.

This direct engagement with the veterans and communities in the Panguna mine-affected areas was critical to build trust and collaborative partnership with these key stakeholders through open and honest dialogue.

Throughout the community engagement program, similar community concerns were raised in all communities relating to the legality of the exploration license, BCL share transfers, the protection of resource owners and their environment under Bougainville laws, legacy issues from the past and how it will be dealt with going forward.

Majority of the communities visited emphasized that they would like more of these consultations to continue going forward to ensure that mutual understanding and trust is built, and that their voices are heard through a participatory approach, with some proposing to have an association or entity established that integrates all landowners and other mine affected communities.

A positive highlight from the week-long consultation was the consensus and understanding reached regarding the ABG’s decision in granting the exploration license to BCL, and the respect shown by the veterans and landowners on the ABG’s decision as the government authority of the day.

Central Bougainville Veterans and landowners of the Panguna mine-affected communities expressed their firm support to the ABG and reaffirmed their decision for the reopening of the defunct Panguna mine under the condition that is reopened under Bougainville’s own terms and conditions.

ABG Secretary for Mineral & Energy Resources Peter Kolotein clarified that the project has now entered the project’s mine life cycle following the issuance of EL-01, and he assured all the communities that this is the first of many more consultations and dialogue to happen.

The Department of Mineral & Energy Resources will be setting up its office in Arawa Town to ensure visibility and ease of access for the landowners to the Department.

BCL staff were also in attendance at the community engagement programs throughout the week where they had the opportunity to hear first-hand all community concerns and issues directly from the people.

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