In 1967, the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) signed the Bougainville Copper Agreement with the Australian mining company, Conzinc Rio Tinto Australia (CRA). The deal gave CRA permission to explore and mine copper in the region of Bougainville, an island off the east coast of PNG. Under the agreement, CRA would finance and operate a large open-pit mine on the island, known as Panguna, which became one of the world`s largest copper mines.

The agreement was initially seen as a positive move for the people of Bougainville and PNG. It was hoped that the mine would bring much-needed economic growth and development to the region. However, the reality was far from ideal.

Over time, concerns grew about the environmental impact of the mine. The company was accused of polluting rivers and destroying forests, leading to the displacement of local communities and damage to their way of life. The social and political tension between the Bougainvilleans and the PNG government also began to build up. The government received a significant share of profits from the mine but did not proportionally distribute the benefits to the people of Bougainville.

In 1988, tensions boiled over into an armed conflict between Bougainvilleans and the PNG government. The conflict lasted for ten years and resulted in the loss of thousands of lives. The mine was forced to shut down in 1989, and it has remained closed to this day.

The Bougainville Copper Agreement has become a symbol of the exploitation of natural resources by foreign companies without proper consideration for the local community and environment. The impact of the agreement is still felt today, with Bougainville advocates calling for greater autonomy and self-determination for the region.

In conclusion, the 1967 Bougainville Copper Agreement was a deal that promised economic growth and development but was marred by environmental destruction, social tension, and armed conflict. It continues to serve as a lesson on the importance of responsible and sustainable resource extraction, and the need for greater consideration for the rights and wellbeing of local communities.