I worked for Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) in the 1980’s and left in 1989. I worked at BCL through a firm called Skilled Engineering International, who for a short time were the Asia-Pacific part of Skilled Engineering, who are still operating now in Australia.
I worked at the Loloho Power Station on the original Bechtel drawings that were in German. My background was in Civil and Electrical from the Navy and we had one of the early versions of Autocad in our little design office, located next to the power station.
I was in my 20’s when I was at BCL and it was an adventure like no other. I can remember asking Ron McInnis one day if I could be shown how the assaying was done, no problem, try doing that in Australia. One day an ore carrier came in way too fast, went hard astern and our little office started to shake, we looked at each other and for a second imagined it coming over the road and ending up in the carpark.
I actually met Francis Ona in the early days of the conflict, before the towers started to be targeted and the BRA were still on speaking terms with BCL and the PNG government. It is tragic what has happened. How they thought they could secede from PNG when at the time BCL was 25% of the GDP.
After Bougainville, I worked for Riotinto iron ore in Perth and then Singapore, during the iron ore boom. I am currently in Melbourne and am looking for a role, maybe FIFO, somewhere in the world. The problem is, there are not enough mine shutdowns, gas turbines to be commissioned, ball mills that need to be built, and crushing plant that need to be designed.
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