Taylor eyes BCL return in five years

National, Normal

The National, Thursday, May 19, 2011

THE Rio Tinto subsidiary, Bougainville Copper Ltd (BCL), says it hopes to reopen the Panguna copper mine on Bougainville within five years.
Bougainville Copper chairman Peter Taylor made this known to investors at the Papua New Guinea Australia Business Forum in Madang, Radio Australia reported yesterday.
Speaking in PNG for the first time since the bloody civil war in 1989 shut down the mine, he said BCL had learnt from past mistakes and was ready to take a new approach to talks aimed at reopening the mine.
Taylor said he wanted landowners and the government of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville to set the agenda and take equity in the project.
According to Radio Australia, he set a three to five-year timeframe for the reopening but acknowledged that despite good progress on reconciliation there were still many hurdles to cross.
He told the forum that he hoped talks on the Bougainville copper agreement would start this year.
Taylor is due to visit Bougainville today at the invitation of Bougainville president John Momis.
It will be his first visit since the Panguna copper mine was shut down.
Radio Australia said Taylor would be part of a delegation of the business leaders meeting in Madang to visit the island in what was seen as part of a strategy by Momis to attract new investment.
The president said that the Bougainville peace process was well established and the island was open for business.
Momis said he would like to attract smart responsible investors who would create jobs and improve life for rural people in the lead up to a referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea.
Radio Australia reported that 90% of Bougainvilleans live in rural areas and Momis said it was essential that any new investment included them.