Ken Phillips, a geologist and geochemist with CRA Exploration, had done a geochemical reconnaissance of most of Australia. His field crew had found traces of every known mineral deposit of any size, and many that were too small to be interesting — but nothing new. Ken’s project was mothballed. He returned to Melbourne to look for a new project.
After studying some old field reports, Ken focused on Bougainville Island. He and two assistants climbed over the Crown Prince mountain range into the Panguna valley and sampled the Kawerong river and Barapinang creek. Thus he made history.
Ken hired some Nasioi to carry two small drill rigs in pieces into the valley, on their backs, over mountainous jungle trails. The drilling results looked promising. Soon they had two small helicopters supplying three work camps with four drilling rigs working.
On 23 August I flew north to Bougainville Island by way of Port Moresby and Rabaul, with a magnetometer.