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Rio ready to talk on Panguna environment says BCL

Togolo-bcl
Sir Mel Togolo - "Rio Tinto’s readiness to enter discussions is a positive development and BCL intends to play a constructive part”

DENIKA SEETO
| Bougainville Copper Limited

BUKA - Rio Tinto’s readiness to enter talks with key stakeholders about social and environmental issues arising from its prior operation of the Panguna mine, has been welcomed by Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL).

Rio Tinto was responding to a complaint brought by the Human Rights Law Centre on behalf of residents and communities in Bougainville and reportedly said it is ready to enter into discussions with those that have filed the complaint as well with BCL, the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the PNG government.

BCL chairman Sir Mel Togolo said legacy social and environmental issues associated with the Panguna mine which ceased operations in 1989 have long been of concern to the people of Bougainville, in particular those communities within the project area.

“These complex issues will require comprehensive assessments in order to identify possible solutions,” he said.

“Rio Tinto’s readiness to enter discussions about these issues is certainly a positive development and BCL intends to play a constructive part.”

The Bougainville Copper of today is very different from the company of the past, as BCL is now predominantly locally-owned after Rio Tinto’s entire shareholding was transferred to the ABG and Independent State of PNG in 2016.

At this week’s inauguration of Bougainville’s new president, Ishmael Toroama, PNG prime minister James Marape reaffirmed a pledge to transfer the Independent State of PNG’s 36.4% shareholding in BCL to the people of Bougainville, with 17.4% to be transferred to Bougainvillean landowners and 19% to the Autonomous Bougainville Government.

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