Bougainville had a historical past of small-scale mining. However the identification of a major gold, copper and silver orebody at Panguna within the Sixties prompted Bougainville Copper Ltd, (BCL) a subsidiary of Rio Tinto, to begin operations of a serious mine.
BCL says Panguna has an estimated 5.3 million tonnes of copper and 19.3 million ounces of gold, which might make the reserves value about $60 billion at in the present day’s costs.
In September 2020, the HRLC, representing 156 residents of villages within the neighborhood of the Panguna mine, filed a criticism with the AusNCP towards Rio Tinto. The criticism alleges that Rio Tinto is accountable for important breaches of the OECD Tips for Multinational Enterprises regarding previous and ongoing environmental and human rights impacts allegedly arising from the Panguna mine.
Bougainville was given better autonomy inside PNG with a non-binding referendum in favour of independence held in 2019.
The settlement follows a number of months of constructive discussions facilitated by the Australian OECD Nationwide Contact Level (AusNCP).
“This is a vital day for communities on Bougainville. Our individuals have been dwelling with the disastrous impacts of Panguna for a few years and the scenario is getting worse,” Conventional landowner and MP Theonila Roka Matbob stated in a media launch.
“These issues must be urgently investigated so options may be developed and clean-up can start,” Matbob stated. “Immediately’s announcement provides us hope for a brand new chapter for our individuals. We sit up for working with Rio Tinto, the Human Rights Regulation Centre and our personal authorities and communities to make sure work on the evaluation can begin as quickly as potential.”
A joint committee of stakeholders will likely be shaped to supervise an in depth unbiased evaluation of the Panguna mine to determine and higher perceive precise and potential environmental and human rights impacts of the mine which ceased working in 1989, Rio stated in a media assertion.
The Panguna Mine Legacy Affect Evaluation Committee will likely be established by the Autonomous Bougainville Authorities (ABG) and the events to the AusNCP course of, Rio Tinto, the HRLC and the neighborhood members the HRLC represents.
Will probably be chaired by an unbiased facilitator with representatives invited to hitch the Committee from the Unbiased State of Papua New Guinea (PNG), ASX-listed Bougainville Copper Restricted (BCL), in addition to different landowners and neighborhood representatives.
“This is a vital first step in the direction of partaking with these impacted by the legacy of the Panguna mine. It comes after months of constructive engagement with the HRLC and the neighborhood members they characterize facilitated by the Australian Nationwide Contact Level, in addition to engagement with different key stakeholders together with the Autonomous Bougainville Authorities,” Rio Tinto chief govt Jakob Stausholm stated within the assertion.
“Operations at Panguna ceased in 1989 and we’ve not had entry to the mine since that point. Stakeholders have raised issues about impacts to water, land and well being and this course of will present all events with a clearer understanding of those vital issues, in order that collectively we are able to take into account the best method ahead,” Stausholm stated.
The scope of the Affect Evaluation, together with phrases of reference for the Committee, have been drafted by the events to the AusNCP course of. The Affect Evaluation will likely be predominantly funded by Rio Tinto with BCL contributing individually, supplied that broader stakeholders on the Committee endorse the method and proposed methodology of the Affect Evaluation, the Affect Evaluation may be safely accomplished and an applicable funding mechanism may be agreed. The ABG has confirmed its help for the method.
The Committee will appoint a chairperson and an unbiased third-party firm (or consortium) to finish the Affect Evaluation with sturdy environmental and human rights experience in addition to each world and regional expertise.
“We’re happy that Rio Tinto has acknowledged the very critical issues raised by communities by agreeing to fund this evaluation,” stated Keren Adams, Authorized Director on the Human Rights Regulation Centre in a separate assertion.
“The Panguna mine left a devastating legacy of environmental air pollution which continues to impression the lives of hundreds of individuals,” Adams stated. “This evaluation is a essential first step in the direction of addressing that legacy. The evaluation will must be adopted up by swift motion to deal with these issues in order that communities can stay in security.”
Following the Affect Evaluation, Rio Tinto and the opposite events to the AusNCP course of will focus on the suggestions from the Affect Evaluation and the remaining commitments sought by the communities.