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Panguna Mine Legacy Impact Committee: Collaboration is Key

The Panguna Mine Legacy Impact Committee held its second meeting early this month in preparation towards the detailed impact assessment set to commence in mid-2022.

The Committee heard a presentation from the technical consultant Tetra Tech Coffey where they presented their initial findings and recommendations summarizing the current Panguna environment covering initial information to help inform and fast-track the detailed Impact Assessment that will commence later this year.

One of the recommendations from the last meeting was for a professional firm to be identified to complete the technical impact assessment. The Committee was informed that this is currently in a tender process where a leading environmental and human rights firm will be selected to undertake this work over an 18-month period beginning mid-2022.

In addition, the Committee also:

  • Endorsed the appointment process and selection for the Committee’s Secretariat, including the Stakeholder and Community Lead position.
  • Endorsed the appointment of roles in the technical sub-committee, which will help inform the Committee’s decision making.
  • Endorsed the direction of a proposed communications and engagement approach with impacted communities to ensure impacted communities received information on the process and contributed their feedback on an ongoing basis, with further details to be provided at the next meeting 

“Throughout this process engaging well and informing our community members will be critical for the Impact Assessment and identifying priority areas,” said Paramount Chief Blaise Iruinu.

“Importantly this committee is working as one team, with a clear goal and good progress,” said senior community leader Theresa Jaintong. 

The meeting took place at the community centre in Ioro 2, just a few hundred meters from the Panguna Mine. Local community members attended the session and engaged with committee members during breaks.

Through a partnership led by National Regional Member for Bougainville Hon. Peter Tsiamalili and ABG Member for Ioro, Hon. Theonila Roka-Matbob, a VSAT system was installed in the Community Centre. The connection enabled committee members to join the session virtually and will also provide opportunities for scholastic, professional and community development.

During the meeting, committee members also spoke to the importance of keeping ABG informed of progress noting that as a completely separate process, they have recently been in discussion with land owner communities about the reopening of the mine.

The next meeting is planned for May 2022. Rio Tinto’s representative on the Committee, General Manager for Closure Delivery, Mr. John Dumbill shared that with the easing of COVID-19 travel restrictions he hopes to be on the ground to attend the next session in person.

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