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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 (PN~G) 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 en1ployment and export earnings. Although the official eulogies of PN~G as a "n1ountain of gold floating in a sea of oil'' are somewhat exaggerated, the role of mining is paran1ount 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 srune time about one-third of PNG's formal sector workforce were employed in mining. 1 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 managen1ent), in PNG industrial relations. 2


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Author Biographies

Benedict Imbun,

Richard Morris,