Bougainville Copper (BCL), an Australian Securities Exchange-listed company and Rio Tinto subsidiary, shut down operations at Panguna in 1989 due to political and military unrest.
With BCL shares last trading at $A1.30, the ESBC’s projections have the company’s shares rising between 1538% and 2308% in value.
The ESBC’s projections were made public in a series of written questions put forward to BCL and answered in the company’s recent annual general meeting.
BCL responded to the question about where the company sees its share price, should Panguna resume mining, by saying the board has not made any predictions on the share price.
The renegotiation of the Bougainville Copper Agreement and the establishment of mining powers will be discussed at the next meeting of the PNG and Autonomous Bougainville Government Joint Supervisory Board, set for late June. Buka Hospital
Since BCL chairman Peter Taylor said he detected a mood of reconciliation among Bougainvilleans and the ABG, the Panguna Landowners Association has also called for a return to mining.
Rio Tinto Technology and Innovation Group are undertaking an order of magnitude study to look at the annual production of the mine in a range of 20-50 million tonnes per year along with projected copper and gold prices. The study is expected to be complete in August.
Taylor said the ore body at Panguna is only partially mined with large available reserves and in the mine’s last year of operation estimated mill feed was at 691Mt at 0.40% copper and 0.47 grams per tonne gold.
With mining operations suspended since 1989, BCL has relied on its investment portfolio which had 13.7% growth for 2007.
The European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper Ltd (ESCB) have written a letter to Peter Taylor, the chairman of Bougainville Copper Limited, asking for help to provide funding for the hospital at Buka. The hospital risks running out of important medicine.
24.05.2008 WirtschaftsWoche Heft 22/2008
Kampf um die Kupfermine
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22.05.2008 POST-COURIER (PNG) Leserbrief
BCL has not paid compo
The recent arrival of a so- called representive from European shareholders of Bougainville Copper (ESBC) is in fact another angel of death posing to bring restoration to the trouble torn island of Bougainville.
He stressed that he came to convey the European shareholders’ message for an immediate commencement of Bougainvile Copper Limited (BCL) to start mining on the island.
Does Axel Sturm know that the people of Bougainville are still awaiting for compensation to be paid by BCL for the thousands of lives and properties lost or damaged as well as the lost opportunities?
Does he know that BCL will never again set foot on the island now and in the years to come unless the inhabitants are compensated?
Does he know the history of the Bougainville mine ?
Mr Sturm or any other interested foreign elements should refrain from discussing this sensitive issue on Bougainville.
16.05.2008 POST-COURIER (PNG)
Shareholders of BCL back mine restart
THE European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper Ltd (ESCB) strongly support the landowners’ claim for re-opening the giant Panguna mine on Bougainville as recently expressed.
ESBC president Axel G. Sturm said on Wednesday in Singapore that there must be a new approach in all activities concerning the resuming of mining in Bougainville.
“We are very much satisfied that the landowners made this first and important step towards BCL,” Mr Sturm said.
“That shows us that a lot of people in Bougainville want BCL to come back home to work on the island.
“Now it is up to the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the PNG Government to make sure that there will be permanent peace and security applied.”
Mr Sturm underlined that without peace and security no investor would give any money to rebuild the island’s damaged infrastructure.
Especially the environmental damage due to the sudden departure of mine workers in 1989 caused by the aggression of rebels had to be repaired as quick as possible, he said.
“Only a very big mining company like Bougainville Copper Limited can shoulder a task like this,” he said.
“Also the damage by uncontrolled mining and the use of mercury to separate the gold caused a deep impact to the environment that is supposed to be even higher. Today’s modern mining can provide environmental caring methods of high standard.
“We absolutely do not want that there will be another young generation in Bougainville that must grow up without education and without a vision of a brilliant future. Only mining can earn the financial funding for progress in Bougainville. The landowners understood and accepted their responsibility for future.”
12.05.2008 Sydney Morning Herald
Bougainville too slow reopening Panguna
Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) must speed up their process to reopen the abandoned Panguna mine, President of European Shareholders of BCL says.
Axel Sturm, in Papua New Guinea's capital, Port Moresby, for last Friday's BCL annual general meeting said the company should reopen the world's largest open cut gold and copper mine as soon as possible.
BCL Panguna mine was shut down during years of civil war on PNG's island of Bougainville in the 1990s.
More than 20,000 people died during years of secessionist fighting.
BCL chairman Phil Taylor told the AGM that mining would not resume for at least another five years.
Sturm said the board was moving too slowly, hurting shareholders and Bougainville.
"We see an island in agony, no real (quality) of life, without work ... There needs to be a healthy society and mining will bring that," he said.
"Of course increasing the share price is our objective but Bougainville is suffering every day the mine is not open," he said.
"They say it is a 'sensitive' issue but I think saying it is a sensitive issue is an excuse to do nothing."
Sturm also said the BCL AGM highlighted the casual approach they were taking on the issues.
"The AGM was a very, very simple handling of an important matter," he said.
"There was an enormous lack of democracy at the AGM.
"Lawyers could attack the AGM for not following the rules.
"The voting wasn't controlled nor was there enough time for questions.
"The board even said they had made engagements after the meeting, but sorry, as shareholders if we want to ask questions for four hours we can," he said.
Sturm represents a four per cent a stake in BCL. Rio Tinto is majority shareholder with 53 per cent and PNG's government holds 19 per cent.
12.05.2005 POST-COURIER (PNG)
Bougainville mine push
BOUGAINVILLE Copper Ltd’s attempts to reopen the abandoned Panguna mine is not far off as landowners deliberate on what they want the company to do — profitable mining and active exploration.
Panguna landowners’ association chairman Michael Pariu issued a statement on Friday stating that he had met with BCL officials and agreed that among others BCL should “come back to profitable mining and active exploration”.
In a statement co-signed by Chris Damana (vice chairman), Severinus Ampaoi (director of Road Mining Tailings Leases Trustee Ltd) and Lawrence Daveona (director and company secretary of Road Mining Tailings Leases Trustee Ltd), Mr Pariu said the landowners had prepared a draft supplemental Bougainville Copper Agreement (2008), which was unanimously endorsed by the landowners. “We demand the ABG (Autonomous Bougainville Government) unanimously endorses our draft agreement in their next sitting,” Mr Pariu said. “We further demand ABG gives this a top priority for agreement with the National Government in the next joint supervisory body meeting scheduled June, in Manus.”
He said through the local MP for Central Bougainville Jimmy Miringtoro, the landowners wanted the reconciliation to focus on the draft supplemental agreement which would deliver up to K5 million worth of benefits per day to Bougainvilleans.
Mr Pariu said the Mr Miringtoro would lead in the reconcilliation process in consultation with the ABG and the administration and for the reconciliation to move forward immediately, funding assistance would be needed from the ABG, the National Government and Bougainville Copper Limited.
Meanwhile, the European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper (ESBC) president Axel Sturm met with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Mining Dr Puka Temu and adviced him of the importance of reopening the once largest mine in the world.
09.05.2008 KINGS TRADE
ESBC-Präsident trifft Vizepremierminister von PNG
European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper.
Hon. Dr. Puka Temu, Stellvertretender Ministerpräsident und Minister für Bergbau traf sich in seinem Büro am Freitag mit Axel G. Sturm , Präsident der European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper Ltd. (ESBC).
Axel G. Sturm brachte seine Besorgnis über den langsam fortschreitenden Prozess bezüglich der Wieder-Inbetriebnahme der riesigen Panguna-Mine in Zentral-Bougainville zum Ausdruck: "In den vergangenen 20 Jahren hat die Bevölkerung von Bougainville sehr gelitten. Sie verlor aufgrund der Unruhen bereits eine Generation, sagte Axel G. Sturm , "es darf nicht sein, dass eine weitere junge Generation gefährdet ist. Daher fordern die ESBC eine schnelle Wiederaufnahme des Bergbaus auf dem Boden (der Panguna-Mine). Nur ein von einem großen und erfahrenen Unternehmen ausgeführter Bergbau kann die riesigen finanziellen Mittel einbringen, die für den Aufbau der zerstörten Infrastruktur in Bougainville notwendig sind. Wir sind zudem davon irritiert, dass die ABG es bevorzugt, Geschäfte mit zweifelhaften Unternehmen ohne jegliche Erfahrung im Bergbau zu tätigen, anstatt mit BCL zusammenzuarbeiten. Nach vielen vertraulichen Gesprächen, die ich bis jetzt hier in Port Moresby führte, bin ich über die große Anzahl von intelligenten Unterstützern eines Bergbaus in Bougainville ausgesprochen positiv beeindruckt."
07.05.2008 POST-COURIER (PNG)
European shareholders want to see Bougainville prosper economically
THE European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper stay committed to see Bougainvilleans benefit from their resources.
President Axel Sturm who flew in from Europe to attend the annual general meeting of the company spoke to the Post-Courier.
The following is the final part of the two part interview.
Post Courier: What would you like to see BCL do for the landowners?
Axel G. Sturm: First of all: Everybody has to do something for the other: BCL and the people on Bougainville as well. BCL has to make sure that royalties will be paid to the landowners and that these royalties don’t vanish in the pockets of the wrong people. We are no social experts but we can imagine that BCL would provide some well-experienced persons that can help the people in good investing of their royalties. It must not happen once more that a conman like Noah Musingku steals the money of the Bougainvilleans. Children have to be well educated in a way that they can take responsibility in 10 or 20 years. There are a lot of tasks that should be discussed in an open dialogue. There is among others the question of how alcohol and drug abuse can be reduced to a minimum. Only a healthy population without drugs and alcohol can build up a healthy community. As BCL has a very well experienced major shareholder in Rio Tinto, I have no doubt that all these tasks would be shouldered.
The mine was closed nearly 20 years ago mainly due to the secessionist conflict in which BCL was made responsible. Therefore, we believe that it would be a friendly sign of the Bougainvillean landowners to invite BCL to come back to work on the island. Second: such a big task as the re-opening of one of the world’s biggest copper- and gold mines needs a big company but it also needs local support.
The landowners can provide that. We want to say one day: We, the owners of BCL AND the landowners are proud to manage one of the best and most modern copper mines in the world.
Post-Courier: What would you like to see the Government of PNG do for the landowners?
Axel G. Sturm: The Government of PNG has announced that it will transfer the PNG-owned shares to the ABG which is the legal elected Government of all Bougainvilleans. That seems to us as a good idea; we would go one step further and say that dividends from these shares should be distributed among all Bougainvilleans; this would act as some sort of social security for all Bougainvilleans, payable every month to every adult Bougainvillean.
As we are informed, should the Autonomous Government of Bougainville take care of his citizens – landowners included. Of course, the National Government of PNG should be generous and provide as far as there is a wish of the Bougainvilleans every support in administration and logistics. First, ABG has to address all of the landowners’ claims, as so far we understand the situation correctly. If the landowners do not feel happy with their elected Government they are free to vote another next time. That is democracy.
Post-Courier: What will you bring up during the upcoming BCL AGM?
Axel G. Sturm: The European Shareholders published recently 22 questions that we want to be answered in the Annual General Meeting. Let me point out what seems to us to be a major problem: The information of people is absolutely not sufficient. Sometimes we here in Europe seem to be better informed than people in Bougainville. We would like to see that BCL helps to build up a better communication infrastructure in Bougainville. Every Bougainvillean must be very well informed on what is going on. We heard that there are still persons running around on Bougainville and telling lies about BCL and even about The European Shareholders. That is not funny and that must have an end. The first radio station on Bougainville that got support by Germany is a first step. There are others to follow. BCL must convince all Bougainvilleans that mining is the best way to overcome the actual situation of poverty and lack of security. Maybe by a specialised and focused information campaign.
Post-Courier: What is the ESBC’s opinion on the chairman’s statement made on the Rio Tinto AGM concerning Bougainville?
Axel G. Sturm: Obviously the ESBC members were not amused at all. We would appreciate if Mr. Skinner would keep himself better informed. His statement on Bougainville was not helpful. At his age he should better think about retiring and play golf instead of bringing inadequate and false messages into the world of finance. After one year of progress in Bougainville and PNG he cannot stand up and recite the same story as last year. This is simply ridiculous.
Post-Courier: Would you like to see landowners owning a significant interest in Panguna?
Axel G. Sturm: The significant interest of all landowners should be the future of the island. The landowners will always own the Panguna land; BCL will add value to that land. The landowners do not have the money or the technology to take out the gold and copper. They should be paid royalties computed on sales of gold and copper from the ground. The landowners will invest the royalties earned in building a strong future for their children; spend it on good schools, hospitals, businesses for themselves. It lies in the hands of the landowners if there is development or not. Tourism is an interesting target for the future of Bougainville.
But tourism needs infrastructure, peace and security. As long as Bougainville is known as a place of unrest and killings there will not be any tourism. Bougainville Copper, only by the company’s name, could bring the message of a peaceful island into the world. One day when mining has earned enough money to build up a good infrastructure, tourism will arrive and bring work and money to the island. Bougainville could become a second Bali for Asian and Australian tourists one day and I am sure that it might also become a hot-spot for Europeans who are already visiting French Polynesia.
07.05.2008 POST-COURIER (PNG)
BCL shareholders keen to see Panguna open
BOUGAINVILLE Copper Limited’s annual general meeting tomorrow is expected to be filled with debates as shareholders start arriving from different places including Europe.
The Post-Courier conducted an interview with the president of the European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper (ESBC) Axel Sturm who arrived in the country to attend this year’s AGM. The following is the first part of the two-part interview.
Post-Courier: What does ESBC want done with Panguna?
Axel G Sturm: After years of unrest that cost many lives the island of Bougainville needs a long period of peace and prosperity for all.
The income from the giant Panguna mine can be an excellent funding for a good future for all Bougainvilleans. Therefore, the European Shareholders claim for a re-opening of the Panguna mine by BCL as soon as possible. With the money earned by the Panguna mine many projects could be developed in Bougainville as there are infrastructure, social investments as hospitals, schools etc. So, with the support of BCL a new and prosperous Bougainville will be born.
Post-Courier: Would you want to see landowners become active participants in discussions over Panguna?
Axel G. Sturm : The landowners of the Panguna mine are the traditional owners of the land. Of course the landowners have to participate actively in all discussions on Panguna.
If we are well informed the women in Bougainville are the legal landowners. For that reason we call to all women to unite for a future in prosperity. The re-opening of the mine by BCL is an issue of public interest for all Bougainvilleans. Therefore we would appreciate if a commission of all parties involved would be built up. That commission could survey especially environmental issues of mining and the development of infrastructure as well.
My vision is that many Bougainvilleans – landowners and others – become shareholders of BCL and by that also co-owners of the company. We, the ESBC, never understood why the landowners accepted that Panguna remained a No-Go-Zone for such a long time, kept by a few former partisans in the jungle.
We think that the landowners should tell these people to go home to their families and finally free Panguna. Our impression is also that there are still some selfish people acting in Bougainville who try to steal from the others instead of working together with the majority for a better future for all. That is very sad. The landowners also can play an important role to make sure that Panguna, Arawa and the other places become places of security and peace. We would like to see especially one of the landowners, President Kabui, become an active participant by talking with all these small groups that are still a danger for peace in the region.
These groups have imperatively to lay down their weapons and work together with the rest of the community. We would also appreciate if Joseph Kabui and other ABG representatives would talk very soon with our board of directors to bring progress into the things that are to do.
to be continued tomorrow
29.04.2008 SCOOP (New Zealand)
European Shareholders To Arrive In Port Moresby For Bougainville Copper General Annual Meeting.
A delegation of the European Shareholders of Bougainville Copper Ltd. (ESBC) is expected to arrive in Port Moresby earlier next week.
In a statement published on Monday in Bangkok (Thailand) ESBC-President Axel G. Sturm pointed out that the ESBC want to help to overcome old anxieties and doubts between the parties concerned: "It must be clear that future mining on Bougainville must avoid environmental damage and that the people of Bougainville take a maximum of profit by professional mining," said Mr. Sturm, "I am very glad that Mr. Swen Lorenz who recently wrote an outstanding study on Panguna will be with us. Mr. Lorenz will bring an excellent in-put of ideas to the assembly. We, the ESBC, expect a strong vote of all Bougainvilleans that they want BCL come back to the island and to build up a prosperous future for them. Every day where the mine is not open is a lost day for Bougainville."
ESBC-President Axel G. Sturm is supposed to stay six days in PNG for in-depth-discussions before leaving to Singapore for further talks.
01.04.2008 Dow Jones Newswires
DJ Papua New Guinea
Bougainville In Pact On Panguna Mine Restart
Bougainville , where a secessionist war claimed thousands of lives in the 1980s and 1990s and forced closure of the Panguna mine - majority-owned by Rio Tinto Ltd. (RIO.AU) - is seeking control of its mineral and gas resources.
Both governments have signed a 15-step memorandum of understanding to hand over mining powers, lifting a moratorium on mining aimed at helping the impoverished island, according to an official at the office of Papua New Guinea Deputy Prime Minister and Mining Minister Puka Temu.
Temu is reportedly hoping the initiative will be the first step in reopening the Panguna mine.
The operation shut down in 1989 after being attacked by secessionist rebels. There has been no exploration or mining because site access is still off-limits despite the formation of an autonomous island government.
The mine produced about 180,000 metric tons of copper annually and ranked as the world ' s third largest copper mine when it was in operation.
The Papua New Guinea government will seek to retain a stake in future profits from the mine and other resource projects, said the official, declining to be named.
The next meeting between the two governments, scheduled for June, is expected to address transfer of power on certain issues.
Rio Tinto owns 53.85% of Bougainville Copper Ltd. (BOC.AU), valued at A$401 million, and the Papua New Guinea government another 19.9%. The European shareholders of Bougainville Copper, a group of individual private investors, is also pushing for a restart of the mine.
The capital cost to restart the mine is pegged between US$1.2 billion and US$1.5 billion.
Mining accounts for around 50% of Papua New Guinea ' s exports, and petroleum and gas together for 25%. Other companies active in the country include Lihir Gold Ltd. (LGG.T) and Barrick Gold Corp. (ABX).
-By Elisabeth Behrmann
(END) Dow Jones Newswires