Rio Tinto Unit Says Proposed Laws May Impact Bougainville Leases

Proposed changes to mining laws on on the island of Bougainville in Papua New Guinea may adversely affect rights held by unit of Rio Tinto Group, the world’s second-biggest mining company.

Bougainville Copper Ltd., 54 percent owned by Rio Tinto, is seeking talks with the island’s autonomous government over its resource tenements and licenses to mine and explore after reviewing the draft legislation, it said today in a statement.

“The draft bill, in its current form, if passed into law, may adversely impact on the mining rights held by BCL,” the Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea-based unit said in the statement.

The unit controls a number of mining rights on Bougainville, including over the site of the former Panguna mine, which was shut by local protests in 1989 amid unrest that included attacks on staff and operations, according to company filings.

Panguna may contain more than 5 million metric tons of copper and 19 million ounces of gold according to a 2012 order of magnitude study, the unit said last year.

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