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Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) has finally re-established itself on Bougainville as a fully locally owned PNG entity.
It returned full time and held its first board meeting in more than 27 years at Buka on August 3.
The board, led by chairman Robert Burns, included former Prime Minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu and former senior ministers Dame Carol Kidu and Sir Moi Avei, who were joined by members of BCL’s senior management.
Its office, located in Buka, is headed by Ephraim Eminoni, who will manage the company’s local team.
Burns said it was a new dawn for BCL as an independently managed PNG company following Rio Tinto’s complete exit in the middle of 2016.
Shareholders now include PNG citizens, Bougainvilleans, the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) (36.45 percent), Independent State of Papua New Guinea (19.06 percent) Eda Minerals (17.39 percent) and a minority of outsiders.
“The Buka board meeting was something of a historic moment for us as a company and demonstrates our high level of commitment to Bougainville going forward,” Burns said.
Both the board and senior management separately met with ABG president John Momis and Vice-president Raymond Masono to discuss important issues regarding BCL’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 met with representatives from the nine landowner associations who were in Buka for their bi-monthly meeting.
“Key members of our team, including executive manager Justin Rogers and senior project officer Ezekiel Burain, who are both very well-regarded in Bougainville, had the opportunity to update landowners on our more immediate community engagement plans as well as on the process for finalising the 1990 statutory compensation payments,” Burns said.
“We are pleased that since the first visits to project communities in December last year, we have now completed 90 percent of the block title older payments, which goes to demonstrate our commitment to building trust with the landowners.”
Burns said during the meeting, landowner representatives expressed a desire to see the Panguna project advance as opposed to objections from a minority.
The endorsement, for example, of some of the women’s leaders who were present was most encouraging.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS
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