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BHP is getting ready for a return to PNG


A study in contrast BHP BILLITON, responsible for the catastrophic environmental damage and consequent human rights tragedy of the Ok Tedi mine, is keen to return to Papua New Guinea.

The giant company is advancing negotiations with landowner groups and the government over several exploration licence applications.

Quintessential Resources managing director, Paige McNeil, recently told the Australian Financial Review that BHP’s applications in PNG total 40,000 square kilometres.

She said BHP applied for 7,500 sq km of land surrounding the Mal porphyry copper prospect in the northwest of Quintessential’s flagship Bismarck project.

While it seems likely that BHP will pursue prospective copper deposits in PNG, the mining giant did not confirm this and downplayed expectations.

The mining industry in PNG was dismayed in June when then Mining Minister John Pundari revealed BHP was applying for tenements.

He also criticised BHP over the environmental damage caused by its operation of the Ok Tedi copper-gold mine.

Since then Mr Pundari has been replaced by Byron Chan.

BHP Billiton divested its 52% stake of Ok Tedi in 2002 and has not returned to PNG since.

Source: Papua New Guinea Mine Watch, 19 September


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Richard Hudson

PNG does not need BHP. Refusing BHP is in no way a deterrent to ethical companies.

Phil Fitzpatrick

I'm not sure that PNG needs too many more mines. It is going to be swimming in money from the ones it has already.

Believe it or not, there are communities in PNG who don't want mining in their areas. They see their subsistence lifestyle as ideal for providing all their needs.

BHP may have learned from its mistakes (it is now a signatory to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative) but many of the other mining companies currently operating in PNG don't seem to have learned from BHP's mistakes or, for that matter, Bougainville Copper's mistakes.

Richard Hudson

I would have thought that BHP would be very conscious of not repeating past mistakes.

In these troubled financial times PNG should be encouraging rather than discouraging investment capital.

Bapa Bomoteng

I hope the government does not allow this monster to return! See what happened to Ok Tedi when they were around. They have a bad record.

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