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ABG to lead community engagement program in Panguna Mine affected communities

The Autonomous Bougainville Government will embark on a week-long community engagement program in the Panguna District on the progress and next steps following the granting of the exploration license to Bougainville Copper Limited, and what this means for Bougainville.

Acting Chief Secretary Kearnneth Nanei, explained that the main purpose of this engagement is to effectively engage with key stakeholders about the issuance of EL01.

“Following the granting of EL01, the ABG now as a responsible government must begin this work to effectively engage and communicate accurate and vital information to the Central Veterans, and to all communities in the Panguna District about what this means and we also want to correct any misinformation and clarify questions and concerns from our communities. Once the awareness is completed in the exploration area, it will extend to all Panguna Mine affected areas like the whole of tailings, Port- Mine and Loloho Port areas,” Mr Nanei explained.

“Through this process of engagement, we want to ensure that we build trust with our people so that they have confidence in the government’s decisions and plans for the redevelopment of the Panguna Mine. We must build a sense of unity amongst people and their government.”

The community engagement and awareness program will further clarify frequently asked questions in relation to:

  • The legality of EL01 issuance to BCL
  • Cessation of BCA 1967 under the Bougainville Mining Act 2015
  • BCL’s evolution as a local entity
  • The economic situation (fiscal gap) of Bougainville and a cost benefit analysis of Panguna that proves how a revived Panguna Mine Project will transform Bougainville’s economy
  • How the Panguna Project is aligned to Bougainville’s independence agenda

The community engagement will be spearheaded by President Ishmael Toroama who is also Minister responsible for Mining, and supported by an ABG administration committee called the Panguna EL-01 ABG Administrative Oversight Committee.

The Committee comprises of the Office of the Chief Secretary, Department of Mineral & Energy Resources, Department of Law and Justice, Department of Lands, Physical Planning, Environment, Conversation and Climate Change, Department of Bougainville Independence Mission Implementation, Department of Community Government, Department of Finance & Treasury and the Bougainville Police Service.

The next phase that the Committee will focus on is the retrieval and proper burial of remains of those buried within the Panguna Mine, ultimately towards closure (‘pinisim sori’).

“The Panguna redevelopment is a priority economic project for the ABG and we will work to make sure that we work strategically towards ensuring the successful outcome of this project as it is largely intertwined with our political aspirations,” Nanei said.

The community engagement will also include communities in surrounding constituencies including Bolave, Eivo Torau and North Nasioi.

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