BCL slaps down claims as RTG tries to edge its way into Panguna
14 December 2017
BUKA – Bougainville Copper Ltd has lashed out at what it calls an “unscrupulous campaign” by rival RTG Mining which it says undermines its position as the Bougainville government’s preferred company to re-open the Panguna copper and gold resource.
In a statement, BCL said RTG, which it characterised as “a junior speculative company”, had sought to create the false impression that BCL had no support among key landowners and that it had claimed a dispute between two leading landowners had been resolved in a way that would undermine BCL interests.
In fact, the National Court under Justice Kandakaski has endorsed a continuing mediation process and ordered that the matter return to the court on 6 February to determine whether reconciliation has resolved the dispute to the satisfaction of the broader group of Panguna landowners.
“These developments are not only deeply embarrassing for RTG but expose the highly misleading nature of its ongoing campaign of destabilisation against BCL,” the company’s statement said.
BCL said it believes “it retains strong support among the 367 customary heads who are authorised to act on behalf of the customary owners.”
BCL also said RTG had wrongly claimed that BCL had “not been to Panguna in over 28 years (given landowners had refused to even allow them access).”
“Again, an egregious attempt to undermine BCL’s standing both locally and internationally,” the statement said.
“The truth is BCL has a full-time team in Bougainville with 11 staff working constantly on the tenement, this includes a Panguna-based senior project officer.
“BCL re-commenced its formal engagement in Bougainville back in 2012 after the Autonomous Bougainville Government and landowner associations invited a new process and in 2014 made its first visits to Central Bougainville.
“Since that time BCL has actively engaged with communities in the Panguna and broader historical BCL mine lease areas and has also undertaken six customary processes and has been well-received overall.”
The BCL statement said it should be noted that “despite RTG’s attempts to undermine BCL’s position, RTG has no apparent support from the Autonomous Bougainville Government or apparent necessary support among the customary heads authorised to act on behalf of the landowners.”
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