Research scoping in PNG

November 24, 2013

Emma Richardson (PhD Candidate)

Emma GlennOur recent visit to PNG was essentially a PhD research fieldwork scoping exercise.  The purpose of this visit was to engage with a community affected by the mining sector and to seek support for a future community based research project.  The primary research question being:  ‘Can the mining   sector to contribute to locally meaningful development’? Accompanied by my PhD supervisor Glenn Banks, and CCD project Post-Doctoral researcher Sharon McLennan, we visited the island of Lihir in the New Ireland Province, which is located approximately 700km north east of Port Moresby.

Gold mining operations commenced onLihir in 1997.  It is estimated that since the commencement of mining operations the island’s population has increased from 6,000 to 22,000 people.   To date little is currently known in Lihir and more generally in PNG, about the intersection of mining operations and local community ‘development’.   It is apparent however, that issues of community-company dependency exist, and that these can be conceived as a challenge for mining sector development efforts.

During this trip to Lihir, we were fortunate enough to discover one community that seems to be confronting the challenge of industry dependence, and who are instead mobilising in support of community wellbeing through community based health initiatives.  More on this in my next update!

As a general reflection I would have to say that I found this research scoping visit invaluable.  Not only did it highlight that while ‘in the field’ it is extremely important not to confuse your insect repellent with deodorant (as the latter actually produces a fragrant scent that attracts mosquitos).  But (perhaps) more importantly this visit to Lihir illustrated the complexity of company – community – development dynamics, and reinforced the importance of communities and mining industry working to peacefully navigate these development challenges in support of community wellbeing.


One response to “Research scoping in PNG”

  1. Dear Emma
    It’s great that you’re doing this research because it is only from field research that we can really understand the extent and dimensions of development impacts in mining communities. I think the research by Martha Macintyre and Nicholas Bainton on the nature of business development as a result of Lihir is extremely interesting, and it would also be interesting to know more about the development effects of employment by the mine or mining contractors, ie. to what extent does this lead to more spending on health and education and more opportunities in future for currently employed mine workers and their dependents.
    I’ll be very interested to read more as your research proceeds.

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