STATEMENT FROM THE ABG PRESIDENT & MINISTER FOR MINERAL AND ENERGY RESOURCES
As the President of the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and concurrently serving as the Minister for Mineral and Energy Resources, I am pleased to officially announce the granting of Exploration Licence EL01 over the Panguna former Special Mining Lease (SML) area to Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL).
I want to assure our people and all stakeholders that this significant development has undergone rigorous scrutiny within the framework of the legal process.
I wish to assure all stakeholders that the grant of EL01 marks a significant milestone, that will finally settle the longstanding court proceedings between ABG and BCL. This is welcoming news given that the ABG is a major shareholder in BCL.
We all know that we have a political agenda to achieve, however our economic situation needs to improve if we are to realize our political aspirations.
For too long, impediments have hindered our economic development. The issuance of EL01 now provides us with a unique opportunity to overcome a major obstacle and make tangible advances in Bougainville’s economic progress. The fate of Panguna is intertwined with our political journey, making it a Bougainville-wide agenda.
The Panguna Project is a high-impact initiative for Bougainville, and the grant of EL01 sets the stage for the redevelopment of the project. This will commence with advanced stage pre-feasibility and feasibility stage exploration activities.
I must emphasize that EL01 is an exploration licence, not a mining licence. Pre-feasibility and feasibility activities under EL01 will span years, underscoring the need to initiate work promptly.
Upon the completion of feasibility activities, the actual mining development stage will be subject to a separate licence application and approval process. Realizing the mining development stage will be a gradual process, spanning several years from the issuance of EL01.
The Panguna agenda has been a recurring theme for over 12 years, and it is imperative that we break free from this cycle. Practical progress on the project hinges on obtaining the necessary licenses. Therefore, my decision as Minister responsible for Mineral and Energy Resources, to grant EL01 to BCL is a strategic move to propel the project forward.
While progress is underway under EL01, this Government remains committed to advancing dialogue with landowners and key stakeholders. This ongoing dialogue is crucial in preparation for the eventual granting of a mining licence in the near future. I encourage all stakeholders to actively engage in discussions, ensuring that their perspectives are considered in shaping the mining development stage.
In conclusion, I appeal to all stakeholders to collaborate with the government in ensuring the progression of this project for the common good of Bougainville as a whole. The collaboration between the government, BCL, landowners, and other stakeholders is vital for the success of this significant venture.
I am optimistic that this step forward will pave the way for a new era of economic development and prosperity for Bougainville.
Hon. Ishmael Toroama, MHR
Minister for Mineral and Energy Resources
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