Conflict in Papua New Guinea Mining: The 1993-95 Porgera Dispute


  • Benedict Imbun
  • Richard Morris



This article examines and assesses the significance of a recent major dispute in the Papua New Guinea (PNG) mining industry. The Porgera dispute lasted a year and a half and arguably crystallised a new departure in industrial relations in an industry which is the largest single source of private sector employment and export earnings. Although the official eulogies of PNG as a "mountain of gold floating in a sea of oil" are somewhat exaggerated, the role of mining is paramount in what is basically, for 85 percent of the population, a subsistence agriculture economy.  In 1993, mining provided 88 percent of the country's export earnings. At the same time about one-third of PNG's formal sector workforce were employed in mining. Without going into elaborate definitional issues, we argue that, despite imperfections in its institutions, the recent Porgera dispute is evidence of a strengthening of "pluralism" (understood in terms of collaborative bargaining and compromise in dispute management), in PNG industrial relations.


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Author Biographies

Benedict Imbun,

Richard Morris,



— Updated on 1995-11-29


  • 1995-11-29 (2)
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