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The chairman of Bougainville Copper Limited Sir Melchior Togolo strongly rejects suggestions the company, through its long-running program of community engagement and support, is in anyway disrespecting government and landowner processes relating to the Panguna mine.

The Post Courier has reported comments by members of Central Bougainville’s parliamentary committee, Justin Borgia, and Lynus Dakei Jr, claiming BCL has violated the Tunuru Resolution relating to the agreement of clans and the ABG to work towards the mine’s redevelopment. Secondly, they claim the company has disrespected a mining moratorium put in place by the ABG over the Panguna Mine area back in 2018.

Mr Togolo said firstly he would point out that it was beyond the authority of the committee to issue desist directives and stressed that BCL has always been consultative with respect to its activities, with the ABG and all key stakeholders, including the parliamentary committee.  Secondly, he said BCL as a local company, had been constructively engaged in Bougainville since its return before 2016 after being invited by the ABG to reengage regarding Panguna.

“As a company, we have always acted respectfully towards the ABG, landowners and the broader community. It should also be acknowledged that we have worked in cooperation with the ABG and landowners in support of various activities and initiatives in areas such as education, vocational training, health, sport, culture, and we continue to do so,” he said.

“It is therefore somewhat bemusing that Mr Borgia and Mr Dakei would suggest we cease these types of activities when it is the local community that benefits from them, including the people we employ on the ground, the contractors we utilise and the many worthy causes that attract our financial support,” Mr Togolo said.

“Further, since 2016 BCL has forged a strong identity as a truly local company whereby the ABG and people of Bougainville own a 36.4 per cent stake which is set to grow to 72.8 per cent. This is a fact we proudly promote among the stakeholders we engage. I am pleased to say we continue to enjoy very positive relations with a wide range of people, including landowners and members of government.”

Mr Togolo also said the company had done nothing whatsoever to undermine the indefinite moratorium that the ABG put in place back in 2018 with respect to exploration and mining. “We certainly respect the Bougainville Mining Act and have always worked within the parameters of that law,” he said.

“The moratorium is the prerogative of the ABG but separate to this there remains an unresolved issue with respect to BCL’s exploration licence. Currently, BCL is working constructively with relevant ABG agencies to amicably resolve it.”

Mr Togolo said BCL, with its strong local ownership and a board of which five of seven directors are Bougainvillean, appears to fit the criteria of a local company, that many, including landowners, want to lead Panguna’s future redevelopment.

“Most importantly, BCL will never pre-empt any decisions of the ABG regarding Panguna and will continue to work with government and others to ensure outcomes are in the best interest of Bougainville and its people,” he said.

DOWNLOAD HERE – BCL’s Activities Always Constructive and Respectful (web)