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Poznań, Poland - Morasko Kampus, room: 3.136
A mining road to cargo - hope and expectations on an eve of a mining development in Papua New Guinea
The remote Frieda River area in Papua New Guinea is home to one of the biggest undeveloped copper and gold deposits in the world. Despite fifty years of exploration the project has not yet developed into a mine. Local communities at the Frieda River often described themselves to me as very remote and excluded from national and regional flows of power and capital. They spoke about being forgotten and alienated, deprived of access to goods and services enjoyed by expats and those living in other, already developed parts of PNG. Feeling abandoned by the PNG government, and disillussioned with the state as a service provider, they came to see the mining industry as a ‘modern road to cargo’ (Bainton, 2010) and conceptualise the future mine as a portal through which they will gain access to a world of wealth and opportunity, which they saw as in many ways superior to their own. This paper shows how members of one of those communities, Paupe, enacted the belief that great wealth will come their way if they can find the right mode of engagement with the elusive mining industry and the stakeholders of the Frieda River Project. It describes how they actively precipitated the mine, acting on their hopes and desires of bringing development to the area. It also reflects on some of the effects the future mine has already started to show – sometimes in unanticipated and surprising ways.