Over the last forty-years there has been an emphasis on large-scale mineral resource extraction - mining - in Papua New Guinea. There are currently six large-scale mines operating. The arguments made to support these projects have been the need to sustain economic growth, provide government revenues and skilled employment.
However the vast quantities of gold, silver and copper exported overseas has not been translated into meaningful social development for the people of PNG, improved infrastructure or increased material wealth. Instead local people have had to bear the brunt of severe negative social, cultural and environmental impacts.
Current operating mines are Lihir (gold), Ok Tedi (copper and gold), Porgera (gold and silver), Ramu (nickel), Hidden Valley (gold and silver) and Simberi (gold).
The Panguna mine (copper and gold) on Bougainville has been closed by the local people and the Misima mine (gold) has exhausted its reserves. Kainantu mine (gold) is currently closed, as are Sinivit and Tolukuma.
Major new mines are planned for Wafi-Golpu (copper and gold), Yandera (gold and copper), Frieda river (copper and gold), Mt Kare (gold), Crater Mountain (gold) and experimental seabed mining in an area known as Solwara 1 (gold, silver, copper and zinc) has been approved by the government.
These mines have been developed and run by major transnational corporations including BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Barrick Gold. Other well-known mining companies involved in PNG include Newcrest and Harmony Gold.
These mines have been developed and are operating in defiance of the principles enshrined in Papua New Guinea's Constitution and its own National Goals and Directive Principles. These require the promotion of integral human development, self-reliance, equitable sharing of resources, the strict control of foreign investment, wise us to be made of the environment, and the protection of Papua New Guinea ways.
All these have been forgotten or ignored, with the result that Papua New Guinea is beset with rampant corruption, declining social indicators, decaying infrastructure and worsening crime and violence.