BOUGAINVILLE Copper Limited (BCL) has marked its full-time return to Bougainville by holding its first board meeting there in more than 27 years.
In a statement, Mr Burns said it was a “new dawn” for BCL as an independently managed Papua New Guinean company. Former parent, Rio Tinto, handed back its shareholding in the middle of 2016.
“The Buka board meeting was something of a historic moment for us as a company and demonstrates our high level of commitment to Bougainville,” Mr Burns said.
But Mr Burns took the opportunity to “remind third parties” that BCL’s exploration rights under the Bougainville Mining Act 2015 remained in place and should be respected.
He said the company would take any necessary steps to defend these rights in the interests of its shareholders.
He said the board and senior management had met with Bougainville president John Momis and vice president Raymond Masono to discuss matters related to the company’s Panguna redevelopment plan.
“We certainly appreciate the ABG’s ongoing support and the fact they strongly restated their position regarding a new Panguna mining project with BCL as its developer,” Mr Burns said.
The company said it is continuing to build relationships with landowners and has met with representatives from the nine landowner associations.
Mr Burns said landowner representatives had voiced support for BCL and expressed a desire to see the Panguna project advance.
“The endorsement of some of the women leaders who were present was most encouraging,” he said.
Mr Burns said a dispute over the chairmanship of the Special Mining Lease Osikaiyang Landowners Association needed to find a resolution and noted that the matter is currently before the national court.
The board meeting, held in Buka last week, was chaired by Mr Burns and included Sir Rabbie Namaliu, Dame Carol Kidu, Sir Moi Avei and members of BCL’s senior management team.
TOP: BCL board & advisers - (from left) Sir Rabbie Namaliu, Dame Carol Kidu, Mark Hitchcock (company secretary), Robert Burns (chairman), Sir Moi Avei, Justin (Ted) Rogers (executive manager for Bougainville), Peter Taylor (adviser to the board) and Brad Stone (executive general manager). LOWER: BCL community engagement team - (from left) Bougainville manager Ephraim Eminoni, administration specialist Myra Teinati and senior project officer Ezekiel Burain.