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Today's quote:

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Alan Smith was right


When I set up the Bougainville Copper Project website way back when dinosaurs still roamed the earth, I had in mind the four-thousand-plus expat workers who built the mine, the mine access road, the port and power-house, and the Arawa township, and who cooked the meals, ran the camps, bashed away on typewriters or, as I did, ticked and flicked the hundreds of progress claims by contractors working for the construction managers Bechtel Corporation.

Given that all that work was done in the early 1970s when the workers' average age was around 30 which, if they haven't succumbed to the booze and other occupational hazards, would make them octogenarians whose failing memory or computer skills may prevent them from responding to my website. All the more reason to welcome the odd email that still does come in, or the even rarer phone call, or the rarest of all, an unexpected turn-up at the gates of "Riverbend".

When that happens, we talk and talk and talk, about Loloho, Camp 1, the early days of the mine access road, the then seemingly metropolitan delights of Kieta, and fifty years disappear in a cloud of memories. We feel we are again in our twenties when it was always morning, when time was endless, and we and the world were young and full of hope.

We agree that those years on what was then the world's largest construction project to become the world's largest open-cut mine have been the best years of our lives when we gained experiences and formed friendships that would last us for the rest of our lives.

Alan Smith, who worked in BCL's IT Department in the "civilised" later years of 1986 and 1987, and also authored the BCL Blues (no contender for "Hot August Night"), was right when he wrote, "... that special place in my heart grows with the time that passes since we were there."

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