‘Incorruptible’: The Man Standing Between Beijing and One of the World’s Largest Copper Mines

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neverfail
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‘Incorruptible’: The Man Standing Between Beijing and One of the World’s Largest Copper Mines

Post by neverfail » Tue Jul 26, 2022 7:15 pm

https://www.theepochtimes.com/incorrupt ... Db9CwveV_U

In the heart of Bougainville lies Panguna, home to one of the world’s largest copper mines.

President Ishmael Toroama knows he has a limited window to revive the mine and along with it, the hopes of the soon-to-be world’s youngest nation.

Yet precarious waters lie ahead.

Millions of dollars of investment are needed, corruption remains a constant in the fledgling democracy, and the Chinese Communist Party’s interest in the strategically important region is no secret.

Panguna mine has sat dormant for nearly two decades, after a bloody civil war erupted in 1988 forcing Rio Tinto to shut the once-massive operation which powered the economy of Papua New Guinea—just north of Australia.

So valuable was Panguna that at its peak it accounted for 12 percent of Papua New Guinea’s national GDP and nearly half its exports.

The mine is estimated to contain around one billion tonnes of copper and 12 million tonnes of gold, with a worth of around US$100 billion—rivalling some of the biggest copper mines in operation today.

Yet it’s not only Bougainville’s resources that are so valuable.

The town of Arawa just north of the mine is home to a major deep-water port built by Mitsubishi and Bechtel during the mining heyday. It was used for shipping ore overseas and could conceivably serve as a home for naval vessels.

Further, Bougainville’s location is critical. Wedged between Papua New Guinea to the west, and the Solomon Islands to the east, the island region forms a chain with fellow Pacific Islands across the north of Australia and New Zealand.
To brief readers on the background: Bougainville should have been part of the sovereignty of the Solomon Islands as it is in fact the most westerly island of that archipelago. But late in the 19th century Imperial Germany decided that it wanted a colonial empire overseas to rival those of Great Britain and France so it annexed northern New Guinea while Britain added the Solomons to its empire. As part of the deal to settle where the inter-colonial border was located Britain ceded Bougainville to the Germans.

Along came World War One and Australia dispatched half a battalion of partly trained soldiers to occupy the German New Guinea capital. Come 1919 and the Versailles settlement the fledging League of Nations (predecessor to the United Nations) awarded the former German colony to Australia as a mandated territory.

Move on now to the 1960's and the Australian administration awarded the rights to mine the newly discovered orebody to the mining house Rio Tinto Limited. It seems that the Australian Minister of the day in charge of the territory did not properly consult with native landowners at the site because it was grievances over that which, a quarter of a century later, led to the civil war on the island that caused closure of the mine.

Now with China manoeuvring to gain control it seems that the buzzards are circling.

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Re: ‘Incorruptible’: The Man Standing Between Beijing and One of the World’s Largest Copper Mines

Post by Milo » Tue Jul 26, 2022 8:45 pm

Well, remember that communism and fascism don’t have reputations for banking expertise either.

Hopefully New Guinea looks at Sri Lanka and realizes it’s not just a loan when your banker is China.

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Re: ‘Incorruptible’: The Man Standing Between Beijing and One of the World’s Largest Copper Mines

Post by Sertorio » Wed Jul 27, 2022 12:20 am

Milo wrote:
Tue Jul 26, 2022 8:45 pm
Well, remember that communism and fascism don’t have reputations for banking expertise either.
Banking expertise has nothing to do with political regime. One could say that Nazi Germany was better than the Weimar Republic in managing its banks...

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Re: ‘Incorruptible’: The Man Standing Between Beijing and One of the World’s Largest Copper Mines

Post by neverfail » Wed Jul 27, 2022 1:17 am

Bougainville expects to be independent of PNG a few years hence. I wonder how the World then will treat a new statelet then?

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Re: ‘Incorruptible’: The Man Standing Between Beijing and One of the World’s Largest Copper Mines

Post by neverfail » Wed Jul 27, 2022 4:22 pm

The Peoples Republic of China does not need the output of the copper mine (plenty of those elsewhere across the Earth) as much as Bougainville does. Since they won regional autonomy out of the civil war they fought against the Papua-New Guinea government the locals have refused to allow the mine's redevelopment; in order to deny the PNG government the minerals royalties payable to it were the mine to be profitably operating again. Why strengthen the enemy's finances?

More important than who ends up owning the copper mine is what would the new fledgling state's international orientation be like?

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Re: ‘Incorruptible’: The Man Standing Between Beijing and One of the World’s Largest Copper Mines

Post by Milo » Wed Jul 27, 2022 4:40 pm

neverfail wrote:
Wed Jul 27, 2022 4:22 pm
The Peoples Republic of China does not need the output of the copper mine (plenty of those elsewhere across the Earth) as much as Bougainville does. Since they won regional autonomy out of the civil war they fought against the Papua-New Guinea government the locals have refused to allow the mine's redevelopment; in order to deny the PNG government the minerals royalties payable to it were the mine to be profitably operating again. Why strengthen the enemy's finances?

More important than who ends up owning the copper mine is what would the new fledgling state's international orientation be like?
I must confess that I am completely out of touch with the politics of that country. However, local movements like that will attract the Belt and Road goombas like flies on you know what. As I indicated above I hope the officials there realize that China doesn’t just loan you money, they want much more than that.

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Re: ‘Incorruptible’: The Man Standing Between Beijing and One of the World’s Largest Copper Mines

Post by SteveFoerster » Wed Jul 27, 2022 5:39 pm

Milo wrote:
Wed Jul 27, 2022 4:40 pm
neverfail wrote:
Wed Jul 27, 2022 4:22 pm
The Peoples Republic of China does not need the output of the copper mine (plenty of those elsewhere across the Earth) as much as Bougainville does. Since they won regional autonomy out of the civil war they fought against the Papua-New Guinea government the locals have refused to allow the mine's redevelopment; in order to deny the PNG government the minerals royalties payable to it were the mine to be profitably operating again. Why strengthen the enemy's finances?

More important than who ends up owning the copper mine is what would the new fledgling state's international orientation be like?
I must confess that I am completely out of touch with the politics of that country. However, local movements like that will attract the Belt and Road goombas like flies on you know what. As I indicated above I hope the officials there realize that China doesn’t just loan you money, they want much more than that.
The question is how much better it would be for everyday Bougainvillians if their new country became a Freeport-McMoRan company town.
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Re: ‘Incorruptible’: The Man Standing Between Beijing and One of the World’s Largest Copper Mines

Post by neverfail » Thu Jul 28, 2022 3:41 pm

I have sometimes speculated that if a country the approximate demographic and GDP size of Australia were geographically located midway in the North Atlantic ocean it would be overshadowed by the big powers in the crowded northern hemisphere (much like Canada is permanently overshadowed by its giant neighbour the United States, :oops: er, sorry Milo). However we are where we are and so the status of Australia in relation to our small Pacific islands neighbours is more akin to that of your ever friendly, ever helpful, regional superpower.

Unfortunately Bougainville might by now be permanently outside Australia's sphere of influence. Years ago when the war between the Bougainville rebels and the PNG government was raging with no apparent end in sight; the PNG Army requested a helicopter from the Australian Army (it did not have one of its own). Ostensibly, the PNG government claimed it wanted the chopper for "relief operations". So the Australian army stripped it of its armaments and donated it in good faith to our neighbour.

So sooner had the PNG army got their hands on it than they re-equipped it with a heavy calibre machine gun and used it on Bougainville island as a helicopter-gunship. It flew over jungle trails mowing down suspected Bougainville independence fighters; many of whom turned out to be civilian non-combatants going about their legitimate business. On Bougainville they have never since forgiven Australia for allowing itself to be hoodwinked by the PNG government like that.

Given that poisoned relationship it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that a fully independent Bougainville republic will easily slip into the PRC net.

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Re: ‘Incorruptible’: The Man Standing Between Beijing and One of the World’s Largest Copper Mines

Post by SteveFoerster » Thu Jul 28, 2022 5:01 pm

neverfail wrote:
Thu Jul 28, 2022 3:41 pm
I have sometimes speculated that if a country the approximate demographic and GDP size of Australia were geographically located midway in the North Atlantic ocean it would be overshadowed by the big powers in the crowded northern hemisphere (much like Canada is permanently overshadowed by its giant neighbour the United States, :oops: er, sorry Milo). However we are where we are and so the status of Australia in relation to our small Pacific islands neighbours is more akin to that of your ever friendly, ever helpful, regional superpower.
Three thoughts:

Firstly, in my observation it's less that Canada is overshadowed by the US, and more that Canadians have an unhealthy obsession with highlighting the few differences there are on opposite sides of the 49th parallel so as to maintain a distinct identity. I find that Vancouver and Seattle, Calgary and Boise, and Atlantic Canada and New England are more similar than the Canadian or American elements of those sets are with each other.

Secondly, sometimes being overshadowed is no big deal. Bermuda is a rock in the middle of the Atlantic, yet it boasts a higher GDP per capita than the US, UK, or Canada. When it comes to the wellbeing of one's people, policy matters more than fame.

Finally, the idea of a major country in the middle of the Atlantic reminded me of the the Atlantis series of books by Harry Turtledove, a "what if" series in which the eastern seaboard of North America was transposed a thousand miles or so to the east.
neverfail wrote:
Thu Jul 28, 2022 3:41 pm
Unfortunately Bougainville might by now be permanently outside Australia's sphere of influence. Years ago when the war between the Bougainville rebels and the PNG government was raging with no apparent end in sight; the PNG Army requested a helicopter from the Australian Army (it did not have one of its own). Ostensibly, the PNG government claimed it wanted the chopper for "relief operations". So the Australian army stripped it of its armaments and donated it in good faith to our neighbour.

So sooner had the PNG army got their hands on it than they re-equipped it with a heavy calibre machine gun and used it on Bougainville island as a helicopter-gunship. It flew over jungle trails mowing down suspected Bougainville independence fighters; many of whom turned out to be civilian non-combatants going about their legitimate business. On Bougainville they have never since forgiven Australia for allowing itself to be hoodwinked by the PNG government like that.

Given that poisoned relationship it is not beyond the bounds of possibility that a fully independent Bougainville republic will easily slip into the PRC net.
That was stupid, Bob.

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Re: ‘Incorruptible’: The Man Standing Between Beijing and One of the World’s Largest Copper Mines

Post by neverfail » Thu Jul 28, 2022 11:18 pm

SteveFoerster wrote:
Thu Jul 28, 2022 5:01 pm
neverfail wrote:
Thu Jul 28, 2022 3:41 pm
I have sometimes speculated that if a country the approximate demographic and GDP size of Australia were geographically located midway in the North Atlantic ocean it would be overshadowed by the big powers in the crowded northern hemisphere (much like Canada is permanently overshadowed by its giant neighbour the United States, :oops: er, sorry Milo). However we are where we are and so the status of Australia in relation to our small Pacific islands neighbours is more akin to that of your ever friendly, ever helpful, regional superpower.
Three thoughts:

Firstly, in my observation it's less that Canada is overshadowed by the US, and more that Canadians have an unhealthy obsession with highlighting the few differences there are on opposite sides of the 49th parallel so as to maintain a distinct identity. I find that Vancouver and Seattle, Calgary and Boise, and Atlantic Canada and New England are more similar than the Canadian or American elements of those sets are with each other.

Secondly, sometimes being overshadowed is no big deal. Bermuda is a rock in the middle of the Atlantic, yet it boasts a higher GDP per capita than the US, UK, or Canada. When it comes to the wellbeing of one's people, policy matters more than fame.
I was only striving to make the point (which you seem to have missed) that Australia, globally a middle ranking power at best, has been a big player among the Pacific islands micro-states because we are situated in a low pressure corner of the globe where we have traditionally had no serious competition for the role of kingpin. Now the People's Republic of China is trying to but in on our domain.

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