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

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
9Wendelinus  BitanumaParamount ChiefBakorinku ClanLandowners


● 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  



©  2022 Panguna Mine
Environmental & Human Rights
Impact Assessment