Bougainville Copper's mine production was suspended on 15 May 1989 because of attacks on employees. Following repeated instances of damage to mine facilities and the power line and further attacks on employees, it became necessary to evacuate all remaining company personnel from Bougainville early in 1990. There continues to be uncertainty surrounding the future of the Panguna mine. Since the withdrawal of company personnel from Bougainville was completed on 24 March 1990, there has been no care and maintenance of the company's assets. Considerable deterioration of the assets has occurred in the intervening period, because of this lack of care and maintenance, their exposure to the elements, vandalism, pilferage and militant action. With the passage of time, it has become clear that a major write-down of assets will be required.
However, 2010 was another year of positive development leading to the re-commencement of operations at Bougainville Copper's Panguna mine.
With copper reserves estimated at almost 3 million tonnes and gold production in the range of 400,000 ounces per annum, Panguna is one of the world’s largest potential producers of both metals. Unexplored neighbouring tenements are also very prospective, and will be explored when a moratorium on exploration is lifted.
Present market values for both copper and gold are significantly higher than at the time of mine closure in 1990. The political situation within the Autonomous Bougainville Region has stabilised, and there is considerable appetite for development being expressed by the people. BCL is seen by many as the preferred operator of a re-started mine, and holds a very large bank of mine data.
For auld lang syne and my many fond memeories of Bougainville Island, I have taken a small position in the stock.