Panguna Mine
Environmental & Human Rights
Impact Assessment

Panguna Mine
Environmental & Human Rights
Impact Assessment

In September 2020, 156 people from communities impacted by the forer Panguna mine, represented by the Human Rights Law Centre, lodged a human rights complaint with the Australian Government’s National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (AusNCP) against Rio Tinto.

One of three requests in the Complaint is for Rio Tinto to fund an independent environmental and human rights impact assessment (Impact Assessment) of the mine site by a team of qualified local and international experts to map impacts – in particular those posing serious risks to public health and safety – and to develop recommendations to address these. Rio Tinto has accepted the request and will predominantly fund the Impact Assessment, with Bougainville Copper Limited also contributing, through a separate funding company with independent directors.

This is the website of the Secretariat for the Oversight Committee which is tasked to make sure the Impact Assessment is done in a way that is supported by the majority of stakeholders and that the broader community has trust in the process.

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Objectives of the Impact Assessment

To identify and assess the actual and potential environmental impacts caused by the Panguna mine since the cessation of mining in 1989 and the social and human rights impacts that are directly connected to these environmental impacts.To develop recommendations for what needs to be remedied to address or mitigate these impacts.

To develop recommendations for what needs to be remedied to address or mitigate these impacts. 

The Process

The Panguna Mine Legacy Impact Assessment will be carried out by an independent third-party company (or consortium), unrelated to Rio Tinto or BCL, with strong environmental and human rights expertise and will involve local and international experts. It will be overseen by the multi-stakeholder Oversight Committee which is supported by an Independent Facilitator and Secretariat

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Impact Assessment Roadmap


Phases of the Impact Assessment

Preparatory phase: Desktop review of available literature on mine & impacts and satellite imagery (now completed).

The preparatory phase report identified two areas of concern to be fast tracked ahead of the impact assessment:

● Potential collapse of a tailings levee
● Potential flooding

To better understand these risks and potential impacts, these areas have been prioritised for a rapid risk assessment through a process led by the Autonomous Bougainville Government with the support of Rio Tinto and the Human Rights Law Centre.

A team of environmental consultants from Tetra Tech Coffey will undertake this assessment on the ground in August and September 2022

Phase 1: Focus on the most high-risk impacts:
Unstable infrastructure (pit, levees etc.), erosion of waste into rivers & flooding downstream
Identifying problems with access to clean water for drinking & bathing
Identifying potentially affected communities

Phase 2: Focus on environmental, social & human rights issues requiring further analysis after Phase 1.  


Oversight Committee

The Committee was established by the Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) and parties to the AusNCP process (Rio Tinto, the HRLC and the community members the HRLC represents). It has representatives from the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, Bougainville Copper Limited, as well as landowner and community representatives.

The Independent Facilitator manages the Committee’s Secretariat which is responsible for day-to-day management of the Impact Assessment contractor, community and stakeholder relations, administrative and financial needs of the Committee and running the office in Ioro.

The Committee is entrusted with endorsing documents and actions to progress the Impact Assessment, for example:
● Primary Contractor scope and tender process
● Endorse lists and options for Technical Sub-Committee and Secretariat selection
● Oversee Impact Assessment and pass information back to key stakeholders
● Review process reports and advise on gaps and concerns
● Approve key messages for release

The Committee is chaired by the Independent Facilitator who is independent from ABG, GoPNG, Rio Tinto or the Complainants

The Technical Sub-Committee provides technical advice to the Committee to support decision-making about the impact assessment.

The Panguna Legacy Assessment Company Limited provides funding for the assessment and the Committee and Secretariat. It is made up of three members (ABG, BCL and Rio Tinto) and is managed by three directors who are independent of the members.

Committee Members:

1Angela KavaruiPresidentPanguna Womens FederationWomen
2Theresea JaintongChairpersonSiokate Landowners AssociationLandowners
3Michael PariuParamount ChiefBasikang ClanLandowners
4Gregory DoraParamount ChiefKurabang ClanLandowners
5Blaise IruinuParamount ChiefBarapang ClanLandowners
6Bernadine KiraChairpersonLower Tailings Landowner’s AssociationLandowners
7Peter TaunaMemberBasikang ClanLandowners
8Bonaventure KenuleiCoordinator for Listening Project/ LandownerCatholic Church and Maile area (Lower Tailings)Church and Landowners
9Philip KenRepresentativeBakorinku ClanLandowners
11Keren AdamsDirectorHuman Rights Law CentreHuman Rights
12Sir Mel TogoloDirectorBougainville Copper LimitedBCL
13Hon. Peter TsiamaliliRegional Member for BougainvilleGovernment of PNGGoPNG
14Hon. Geraldine PaulMinister - Primary Industries & Marine ResourcesABGABG
15Dr Naihuwo AhaiDirectorBougainville Strategic Research, Planning & Monitoring SecretariatABG
16Hon. Theonila Roka MatbobLead Complainant & Member for Ioro ABGCommunities
17Lohial NuauRepresentativeUruava Landowners Association Block owners
18Esther UsurupDeputy Chief Secretary – OperationsABGABG
19Martin BrashIndependent FacilitatorTanoramaAll parties
Committee Members

Bonaventure Kenulei

Lower Tailings representative. Landowner

Bonaventure role as Coordinator to the Panguna Listening Project implemented by the Bougainville Diocese led him into the assessment process. A strong advocate for his people through his work, Bonaventure has been involved in the publication of "We are crying for our Land", a collection of stories from people in the mine impact areas. He was also part of a team that took soil samples all throughout the impact areas.

Theresa Jaintong OBE

Paramount Chief Kurabang Clan and Chairlady to the Siokate Association (Eastern Coast)

Theresa brings to the Oversight Committee a wealth of experience and knowledge. She is also the Chairlady to the North Nasioi Community Government and currently holds membership to a number of regional and national boards. Theresa was also instrumental in maintaining peace and protecting civilians during the conflict, and in many cases; put her own life at risk to save the lives of others. Theresa is from the Arawa Urban area.

Hon. Theonila Roka Matbob

A landowner in the Enamira area of Tumpusiong Valley, Upper Tailings; Primary Complainant; ABG Member for Ioro Constituency; ABG Minister for Education 

Theonila is the primary complainant who pushed for the establishment of this process. Prior to entering politics, she founded and continues to manage a leading education and counselling centre in her area. She has held roles in the government and private sector, mainly in research, management, and designing plans. She is also member to regional and international movements that promote the protection and preservation of land, environment, and culture.

Naihuwo Ahai. PhD

Representing ABG President’s Office; Advisor Bougainville Higher Strategic Planning and Vision Secretariat 

Dr. Ahai sits in the Oversight Committee as the representative from the ABG President’s Office. He has wealth of knowledge, experience, and expertise on Bougainville issues, having played major roles in peace building and other important works on Bougainville and PNG as well. He has held several consultative and advisory roles to both private and government agencies.

Michael Pariu

Paramount Chief Basikang Clan

Michael stands in as the paramount to Basikang Clan. He holds numerous roles, mainly with Bougainville Copper Limited. Currently he is the Chairman of the Panguna Development Limited, a company that aims to support landowners in the mine affected areas. Michael is from Enamira.

Bernadine Kira

Principle Landowner (Kuneka and Konaviru Wetlands); Chairlady Lower Tailings Landowners Association

Bernadine is a principle landowner and key leader in the lower tailings area. Together with Bonaventure Kenulei, both have been working to find ways to help their people especially when vast areas of their land is being flooded by the Jaba river diversions. Bernadine is a strong advocate for her people’s rights to have adequate access to basic necessities like clean drinking water, arable land for gardens and preservation of forests that are dying due to vegetation die back caused by the Jaba river diversions. Bernadine has the support of a large group of people.

Blaise Iruinu

Paramount Chief Barapang Clan 

Blaise is a Mekamui strongman and a committed member in the process. He continues to provide oversight and advise to the process both formal and informally. His prior role in the Mekamui faction Government, a body loyal to Late Francis Ona and the ideas of the revolution, generally broadens the scope of representation apart from Blaise's role as paramount chief.

Peter Tauna

Basikang Clan

Peter is from Kokore Village overlooking the Panguna Mine area. He is also a former BRA combatant and currently the Panguna Police Station Commander. His role in the Oversight Committee is important as he is from the impacted area of the Panguna Mine and holds an important role as a leader in his clan.

Angela Kavarui

Former President Central Bougainville Women's Federation
A landowner from Dapera Village

Angela has been playing many active roles representing her communities in the SML, particularly Dapera and the area she currently resides. She was also involved in the Panguna Listening Project and other research activities regarding her area and people. Angela sits in the Oversight Committee as representative for Women.

Gregory Dora 

Paramount Chief Kurabang Clan

Gregory is from Dapera inside the Special Mining Lease area of Panguna. Gregory was born in the original Dapera village just before it was covered by mine operations. Gregory is also an ex-combatant and a strong leader in his community. He now resides in the Parakake area down the Port Mine Access Road.

Philip Ken

Bakoringku Clan

Ken comes from Toku and currently resides at the former Jaba Pump Station in the Middle Tailings in Ioro 2. Ken is a strong voice for his people in and around the Middle Tailings, which his former village of Toku does not exist anymore, as it was washed away by tailings before being covered by levies built by the mine. The residents of Toku have moved further down towards the higher grounds of Totaku and across Jaba at Rerevai.

Lahial Nuau 


Lohial represents the Uruava Landowners Association in the East Coast of Eivo-Torau. Lohial has a wealth of experience in the extractive industry having served as a senior public servant in the PNG Petroleum & Energy Department. He currently runs his own business and resides at the former Aquatic Campsite along the Loloho Access road. His inclusion in the Oversight Committee covers the locations under the Uruava Landowners Association.

Hon. Geraldine Paul

ABG Regional Member for Central Women; ABG Minister for Primary Industries & Marine Resources 

Geraldine sits in the Oversight Committee as the representative for ABG in the process. She is from the Kongara area which is connected to Ioro via the mountains. Geraldine has played very significant roles in the development of the agriculture industry on Bougainville before entering politics. Hon. Paul has been working closely as an important stakeholder for her people in the Legacy Impact Assessment process.





● Complainants – Tailings communities
● The wider community in ARoB and PNG
● Human Rights Law Centre
● Rio Tinto
● International partners and observers

Process Operators

● Independent Facilitator
● Oversight Committee
● Technical Sub-Committee
● Secretariat
● Independent Funding Company
● Primary Contractor  



Social presence

We now actively share our latest information of happenings on our Facebook page which can also be viewed below:


  • 26.02.24 - Updates on the Panguna Mine Legacy Impact Assessment - a quick review of where we are at present and what's due soon.

  • 21.07.23 - Joint Statement by Parties - Human Rights Law Centre | Rio Tinto

  • 06.06.23 - ABC News report "Bougainville's destructive goldmine could also be its $90 billion key to independence

  • 13.04.23 - PMLIA Field Work Commencement
    The first field work campaign, which kicks off Phase One of the Panguna Mine Legacy Impact Assessment, has now started in mine-impacted areas. A research team of local Bougainville, Papua New Guinean and international experts and scientists will be carrying out environmental and social, health and human rights investigations throughout April and May. This will be the first of three field studies and is an important part of the Legacy Impact Assessment which is scheduled to run for the next 18 to 20 months.

    Scientists will be collecting data from water, soil and air samples, as well as conducting interviews with local people and communities. Additional data collection will include surveys by airplane, and gathering information from weather stations setup for the study. 

    The commencement of the first field investigations follows a month-long pre-awareness campaign where the research team met with local communities, leaders, and individuals to discuss the upcoming data collection process. View the Timeline Graphic.
  • 29.03.23 - Update Statement - update on complaint submitted by Human Rights Law Centre on behalf of affected individuals regarding Rio Tinto

  • 31.01.23 - Panguna Mine Legacy Impact Assessment Summary of Progress 2022
    Achievements outlined include the establishment of the multi-stakeholder Oversight Committee; the Secretariat; PLAC and the engagement of Primary contractor.
  • 06.12.22 - Panguna Committee Appoints Independent Environmental Assessor 
    The Panguna Mine Legacy Impact Assessment Oversight Committee have named Tetra Tech Coffey to lead Phase One of the Panguna Mine Legacy Impact Assessment following a competitive tender process. 
  • 20.08.22 - Committee Media Release - Early milestone for the Panguna Legacy Impact Assessment 
    The Panguna Mine Legacy Impact Oversight Committee celebrated the opening of its Secretariat Office in Ioro on the 11th of August at the Ioro 2 Government Centre.
  • 05.04.22 - Complaints Mechanism
    The objective of this Complaints Mechanism is to establish a non-judicial, formal system for managing stakeholder complaints in a systematic, fair, appropriate and transparent manner in accordance with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), and for complaints to be resolved in a way that is respectful of the complainant’s fundamental human rights. 
  • 30.03.22 - Panguna Mine Legacy Impact Assessment - Preparatory Phase
    Preparatory Phase Results - State of mining infrastructure; Levee failure; Flooding; Landcover change; Water quality and aquatic ecology; Tailings deposition in Empresss Augusta Bay; Recommendations. (Click the date/title to download document - 77MB warning LARGE file)
  • 29.03.22 - Panguna Mine Legacy Impact Assessment - Preparatory Phase - SUMMARY BROCHURE
    Summary of Main Results from the Preparatory Phase - State of mining infrastructure; Levee failure; Flooding; Landcover change; Water quality and aquatic ecology; Tailings deposition in Empresss Augusta Bay; Recommendations. (Click the date/title to download document - 8MB)
  • 29.03.22 - Panguna Mine Legacy Impact Assessment - Preparatory Phase - EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
    Introduction, The Legacy Impact Assessment, Preparatory Phase Scope of Work, Summary of Results from the Preparatory Phase, Recommendations for Further Assessment.(Click the date/title to download document - 12MB)

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