News and Public Notices

The latest from across Bougainville

ABG commences community engagement program in Panguna Mine-Affected Areas

The Autonomous Bougainville Government has commenced its community engagement program in the Panguna Mine-affected areas, starting in the township of Panguna yesterday.

This engagement program targets veterans in the Central Bougainville region and the Panguna landowning communities, who remain as crucial stakeholders to the Government in this process.

The purpose of the multi-stakeholder awareness is to effectively communicate correct and vital information about the issuance of EL01 to BCL and address community concerns and questions surrounding the issuance of the exploration license.

In January this year, the Autonomous Bougainville Government granted exploration license EL01 to Bougainville Copper Limited. The decision to grant BCL a 5-year extension of EL01 was made following due legal process.

Following the issuance of the license and given the sensitive background of the Panguna redevelopment project such as legacy issues, cross cutting aspects and evident ongoing opposition on the ground, the ABG saw the immediate need to conduct this community engagement and awareness program as a first response to correct any misinformation in the mine affected communities.

Part of the engagement on the first day, was to educate the Veterans and Community Government of Central Bougainville about the issuance of the exploration license and importantly, build alliance and trust with these key community stakeholders to help the government disseminate accurate information to the Panguna mine affected communities. 

The Toroama-Nisira government continues to emphasize the critical connection between Bougainville’s political aspirations for independence, which must be backed by a strong and sound economic base.   

ABG President Hon. Ishmael Toroama clarified that the Government has no particular interest in Bougainville Copper Limited (or BCL), rather it’s chief role is to protect the interests of all Bougainvilleans and, for the Panguna redevelopment process, the Government is there to facilitate dialogue and ensure that all stakeholders have all the information needed for them to make sound decisions in support of the ABG’s plans for Panguna.

Acting Chief Secretary Kearnneth Nanei explained the legality of the ABG’s decision relating the issuance of the exploration license, clarifying that it followed legal deliberations related to the ongoing court injunction between the ABG and BCL.

In January 2018, the ABG under the Momis-Masono Government, refused an extension of BCL’s EL01 (exploration licence) and three months later the company was granted leave by the court for a judicial review of the decision. The proceedings have remained ongoing ever since.

In 2023, the ABG and BCL had consulted and agreed to signing a Deed of Settlement to end the almost six-year long court case between both parties.  

Mr Nanei also clarified current misconceptions that the 1967 Bougainville Copper Agreement (BCA) was still applicable in Bougainville. He explained that the enactment of the mining act for Bougainville in 2015, superseded all other national mining laws on Bougainville, including the Bougainville Copper Agreement.  

“The Bougainville Copper Agreement of 1967 relates to the operation of the tenements of BCL in Panguna, and that in itself is mining powers. So that’s why when Bougainville has already enacted its own mining law, then the national law does not apply in Bougainville. So anything to do with the tenements, benefits related to mining, anything to do with road access, anything to do with whatsoever under the BCA Act, they are now administered by the ABG through the Bougainville mining act,” he said.

Other presentations included the ABG Department of Bougainville Independence Mission Implementation on the current political journey that Bougainville is on and how it requires strong economic backing to ensure that Bougainville can fund and sustain its political aspirations for independence.

The ABG Department of Finance also presented to the stakeholders the current economic situation in Bougainville, highlighting the fiscal gap that must be filled through transformative economic interventions.

The ABG Department of Mineral & Energy Resources presented a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis of the proposed Panguna redevelopment project in comparison to the former Panguna mine, emphasized on the mineral project life cycle of which the ABG and the landowners are now in following the issuance of the exploration license. Clarity was also provided on the license conditions under the Bougainville Mining Act, that are attached with the exploration license issued to BCL.

The awareness program continued today with the Panguna mine-affected areas landowners, and will continue this week with sessions on Wednesday 17 April at Guava Village where the ABG will engage with communities from Guava, Mosinau and Kokore villages. On Thursday 18 April, the ABG team will engage with communities from Parakake, Pakia, Siredongsi, Mainku, Korokoro and Ikipute villages at Pakia Catholic Chapel and on Friday 19 April, the ABG team will engage with communities from Kupei, Paraiano and Sunua villages at Arawa Town.

[ Back to News ]