BCL asked to show cause

Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) has been asked to show cause as to why Exploration License (EL) 1/2014, covering the Panguna mine area, should not be cancelled.

The Mining & Petroleum Review (Vol. 4 Issue 3) reports that the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) Department of Minerals and Energy raised the question following allegations of a breach by BCL of Section 112 (1) of the ABG Mining Act 2015 and a condition of the exploration license.

The development follows a decision by Rio Tinto to offload its equity to the ABG (36.4 percent) and PNG Government (17.4 percent).

The PNG Government already has existing equity and the equity transferred by BCL gives the Government a 36.4 percent stake in Bougainville Copper.

The decision upset ABG President John Momis, who argued that all equity should have been given to the ABG to avoid any PNG Government control.

However, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill stated during the year that the shares in BCL were transferred to the province’s landowners.

Following the passing of the ABG Mining Act 2015, Rio Tinto said it would reassess its position following the ABG’s decision to convert the company’s tenement from a Special Mining Lease to an exploration license.

President Momis has indicated that exploration license may be put out to international tender to restart the mine.

Cedric Patjole