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The Die Was Cast - My Journey to New Guinea

The Bougainville Aftermath

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January 19, 2017

A message from the webmaster:

It is perhaps not surprising that this blog and the Bougainville website are dying a slow death. However, as the numbers of ex-Bougainville employees are diminishing, it puts an even greater responsibility on those who are left to keep recording those times which were important to us as well as to the island of Bougainville.

An old Bougainville friend from those early days, who stayed until the very end of the construction phase, wrote, "I remember clearing up old files after Bechtel left. There were a couple of box files filled with letters from women, solicitors, lawyers etc., all much of the same theme, so-and-so was believed to be working on the project and was wanted for child support payments, etc. The standard reply clipped under the lid was to the effect that there were over fifty companies working on the project with a total of 10,000 workers, and if the writer would please care to contact the respective company. Of course, they knew that if they dobbed in one guy, they would instantly lose a big percentage of the workforce."

Camp 6 Loloho
Click on image to enter Bougainville Copper Project website

Back then, 'home' was a 9x9ft donga tastefully decorated with PLAYBOY centrefolds of girls waxed to the point of martyrdom, where one's wordly possessions easily fitted into a 2ft-wide metal locker and one's needs for comfort were satisfied by a red plastic chair on the porch.

Life was so simple then; we were so innocent!

Or, at least, some of us were. The old saying that Papua New Guinea attracted three types of men, namely missionaries, moneymakers, and misfits, had to be rewritten for the Bougainville Copper Project to include those running away from their wives, the police, or themselves.

If you have an anecdote to contribute or some old photos, please email me at riverbendnelligen[AT]

I look forward to hearing from you.

Peter Goerman
PO Box 233
Batemans Bay NSW 2536
Email riverbendnelligen[AT]
Skype riverbend2

January 17, 2017

BCL Brochure


Bougainville facebook page

You can find these and many other gems on the
Bougainville facebook page

For a shortcut to all those precious photos, click here


January 15, 2017

Longyear at Bougainville

Sadly, unreliable Eastmancolor was used for printing this copy of the original film and the print has faded badly with loss of the reds and blue/greens making it almost monochrome now.

Drilling for copper on Bougainville Island in 1964 using the revolutionary new Longyear Triple Tube Wireline Core Barrel specially developed to properly assess the quality of the very broken copper orebody in the highlands of this mountainous and remote island. Shows spectacular aerial views of this beautiful, rugged island and the huge success of the Longyear Triple Tube Core Barrel right from its first use drilling deep into the broken orebody! For the first time, it enabled the high copper content of the very rich orebody to be determined and a decision made on going ahead with develoment of the hugely valuable copper mine in this very difficult and politically unsettled location.

The tribal conflict of the Bougainville Revolution brought operations to a close shortly after this film was made and the orebody is today one of the world's richest unmined copper deposits.


January 13, 2017

What the resource curse is doing to Bougainville

The rusted air vent is deafening and a whoosh echoes around the pit. Copper-polluted water sits in a pool nearby and trees are starting to take over the graded hillside. Rocky, uneven ground is where locals pan for gold, hoping to find a few grams to make some money for families living in nearby villages. Seven kilometres wide at its broadest point, the Rio Tinto-controlled Bougainville copper mine in Papua New Guinea hasn’t been in operation for nearly 25 years, yet still dominates the local landscape.

Dozens of massive trucks lie inoperable. Oil drips from their engines and runs downstream. A loud, machine-like sound is heard in the pit. The vent is sucking air directly into a pipe that takes water outside the mine itself. It is this device that allows the mine not to fill up completely with water when it rains constantly during the rainy season. It has been making this booming sound 24 hours a day for the past two decades.

The island’s brutal war from 1989 to 1997 caused the death of many thousands, maimed countless others and involved Australia arming, training and funding Port Moresby to oppose the rebellion. Former PNG leader Michael Somare accuses Rio Tinto of violently suppressing rebels opposed to the mine during the “crisis”.

Bougainvilleans may have won the war but the peace has left years of inertia, and a province desperately in need of rehabilitation.

The town closest to Panguna mine, Awara, feels stuck in time, old buildings are devoured by lush jungle, Shell and Mobil service stations decay on the side of the road. The locals are used to the poor infrastructure and housing and there are few active services for the dwindling population.

“The mine was never really closed,” says Josephine, manager of the Arawa Women’s Training Centre. “Workers and the company just fled.”

Read the rest of the story here.


John Hewitt emailed from the U.K.:

Hi Peter

I've recently been watching a Sky Discovery programme called "The Legend of Croc Gold" - see here -, which covers the exploits of a group of Alaskan gold miners who have been dredging the Queens River bed for alluvial gold. If you have seen it, you will have seen the difficulties they encountered, including large crocs lurking about the riverbanks.

They were using a 6"dredge, with a diver in a croc proof cage, sucking up the riverbed and sluicing it over a set of riffles. They did find gold, some quite large nuggets, or pickers as they called them, because they could pick them out with their fingers.

They were aiming to dredge an ounce an hour, but only averaged about 0.7ounce/hour, but they were intending to go back again to set up a bigger operation. The Queens River is north east of Loloho, and the gold deposits are not that far from Mt Bagana, which is no doubt where the gold originated.

There were also a few clips of Arawa as it is now, with odd clips showing the war.

Glad to see the blog is still going. I'm a member of a Facebook Group called Opencast and Quarrying, and have posted a few of my photos, and extracts from old copies of "the Concentrator" which are always well received.

Do you mind if I post some extracts from the blog? I'm sure they will be appreciated, and as the mining industry is a brotherhood, there must be other ex BCPL employees reading the Facebook page, so there may be some more contributors.

Hope to hear from you soon
Kind regards
John Hewitt
Maintenance Controller, Crushing, 1973/74
Now living near Sheffield, England
email jhewitt19[AT]


January 3, 2017

Good morning, Bougainville


January 2, 2017

Blood and Treasure


January 1, 2017

For Tomorrow 1966


December 31, 2016

A British Movietone clip