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President Toroama communicates historic decision to PMLOCC

President of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, Hon. Ishmael Toroama, met yesterday with over 300 participants of the Panguna Mine Land Owners Clan Chiefs, at Tunuru Catholic Mission outside of Arawa Town, Central Bougainville. 

The purpose of this important meeting was for President Toroama to inform the landowners of the Government’s recent decision on the granting of the Exploration Licence EL01 over the Panguna former Special Mining Lease (SML) area to Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL). 

President Toroama in his address described the meeting as a historical one following the numerous meetings facilitated over the past two years through the Panguna Mine Dialogue process. 

He said that the dialogue process created a ‘constructive space’ that provided both the landowners and the Government to come together despite the existing differences, and talk openly and honestly about Panguna, which culminated in the shared resolution to re-open the Panguna Mine. 

“The Panguna Mine Dialogue clearly demonstrated a breakthrough in bringing together the landowners to talk with the ABG, and the biggest accomplishment was the resolution we reached together to re-open Panguna Mine,” he said. 

President Toroama highlighted a key resolution that was made during the Panguna Mine Dialogue Chief Summit of February 2022, where both parties agreed that, ‘the ABG needs to develop the best strategy forward under a local entity, jointly owned by landowners and the ABG, on behalf of the people of Bougainville. 

It was in this same spirit, that the ABG, as the mandated government, had come forward with this strategy to begin the project cycle through the granting of EL01. 

“As the President and the Minister for Minerals and Energy, I am here today to let you know that I have granted the EL01 over the Panguna special mining lease area to BCL,” Toroama said. 

The President’s announcement to the landowners was received with great support. Despite a petition to the Government over its decision earlier in the meeting, following dialogue among the clan groups, the landowners reaffirmed their full support for the Government's decision, standing in solidarity with President Toroama and his administration throughout this process.

President Toroama also acknowledged that the announcement of the granting of the exploration licence to BCL was not an easy thing to hear, however he assured the Panguna Landowners that the granting of the licence was a well-informed decision done within the strict framework of the legal process. 

He emphasized that Bougainville’s political agenda hinges on economic progress, and the issuance of EL01 presents an opportunity to address the prevailing economic challenges and propel Bougainville's economic advancement in accordance with our political timeline. 

“We are creating opportunities for our generations to come,” he said. 

President Toroama committed to having continued consultations and dialogue with the landowner groups and key stakeholders, through the ABG Department of Mineral and Energy Resources, at every stage of the process. 

In an effort to enhance accessibility for these consultations between the Government, landowners and other stakeholders, the President announced that the ABG Department of Mineral and Energy Resources will be setting up office in Arawa Town. 

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