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From the air Bougainville is a romantic island. Lush and rugged, surrounded by reefs and an emerald sea. Cloud sits on the rain forest that mats the mountains. The tall volcanic cones of Bagana and Balbi smoke sullenly and glow at night.

But along the Crown Prince Range and down on the flat country, life was not always as romantic as it seems from a passenger's window.

Rain, mud, dust, heat, boredom. These are deep in the memories of the men who built the mine. But deeper in their consciousness is another feeling, almost of pride, that they were part of a tremendous and exciting adventure. That they were pioneers.

The Bougainville Copper Project in the then Territory of Papua New Guinea ran from 1966 to 1973 and cost some US$350 million. At its peak in mid-1971, it employed a labour force of some 10,700. The Bougainville Copper Project was not only the largest grass roots copper project undertaking in the world to that date - it was truly a monument to every man who turned his hand toward its successful completion.

Camp 1 at Panguna Did you spend some time on the Bougainville Copper Project in the sixties and seventies? If you did, we want to hear from you! They aren't many of us left and it would be good to hear from those who lived with us in the camps or in Arawa or Kieta and shared with us the experience. Camp 6 on a quiet Sunday afternoon
Kieta Harbour, royal yacht at anchor Wouldn't it be great to revisit Bougainville, drive up to Panguna or swim at Loloho Beach? The Bougainville Copper Project shaped our lives as many of us continued in overseas projects. Others returned to suburbia and ordinary jobs but they, too, were forever changed by the experience. Loloho beach
Loloho beach Where are they all today? Many are settled back in Australia while others stayed on in New Guinea and some are still on the move. When were you on Bougainville? Who did you work for and what did you do? Have you photographs or memories to share which we could publish on this website? Panguna minesite
Loloho beach
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(By the way, do you remember the rumours about the stuff they put in our tea in the camp, to keep our minds off it...? Well, 40 years later, I think mine's beginning to work.)

Warehouses and office of Camp Catering Services at Panguna
As one contributor put it so aptly, "You only have to scratch the surface and you bleed PNG..." So next time you bleed a little and feel a bout of "Bougainvilleitis" coming on, share your thoughts and memories with us. I very much look forward to hearing from you and any of your mates who may have spent time on the Bougainville Copper Project.

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Copyright © 2003-2008 Peter Goerman