The ougainville Copper Project
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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
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.
Click here for a detailed map
Copyright © 2003-2008 Peter Goerman