Can you visit Panguna mine in Bougainville Papua New Guinea? Yes you can, yes you should and yes YPT can take you to visit Panguna Mine! So, what next?
You need to get to Kupa
Kupa is the capital city/island of Bougainville, itself a renege province of Papua New Guinea that seeks to be the worlds newest country. Whether it gets to be independent or not is another question, so to visit you will first have ro come to Papua New Guinea.
From Port Moresby you then fly via Rabaul to Kupa.
From Kupa you take a boat taxi and then drive via 4WD on some seriously not very paved roads for about 6 hours, here you can go to the one or to Arawa, the most important city in Bougainville.
What’s the mine all about?
A former gold and copper mine it was in some ways the catalyst for the war for independence. In essence despite the great riches it produced very little was spent on the local people, as evidenced by the very poor state of the roads you will see when you come here.
People may criticize Belt and Road, but go through here and you will really wish the Chinese had visited.
Lack of riches led to the mine closing in 1990 and closed it has remained since, save local prospectors.
What is there to see and do at Panguna mine?
As a closed mine there is not all that much going one here save some urban and dare we say some dark tourism. There are also locals that are prospecting here, who are friendly as well as people randomly farming, which kind of gives a bit of dystopian feel to things.
In fact it reminds me in some ways of the mines in Nauru.
It also offers a very contemporary look into how the country that is Papua New Guinea currently operates, particularly in relation to Bougainville, a place that might soon become its nearest neighbor.