Nigel Parker, CEO of Ok Tedi Mining Limited, has more than 30 years’ experience in the resources sector. He has spent 16 years in management roles for BHP Steel and Bluescope Steel, working in the US, Sri Lanka, Thailand, China, Papua New Guinea, and Australia.

The CEO Magazine caught up with Nigel to look at the challenges and triumphs of Ok Tedi, at the history of the mine, and the environmental issues that have arisen in its past.

The CEO Magazine: Can you highlight some of the challenges that come from working in Papua New Guinea?

Nigel: Papua New Guinea is an emerging nation, 39 years as an independent nation with all those learning experiences. It'’s a nation that I think has some issues with the old Australian culture still overlaying its age-old cultures. You’'ve got a falling away of the old Australian education system after the past 39 years, which the current Prime Minister is trying to rectify. You’'ve got administrative structures, like Australian-style municipal councils that don’t work in PNG.

A strong hope that I have is that PNG can start to work its way through government and administrative-type areas in particular to develop more appropriate governance models that are more aligned to their own cultures. The issue with expats is that that we’re not born into those cultures, so although you become reasonably aligned to the cultural thinking and the cultural ways, not being born into those cultures means you’'ll never be able to understand the subtleties.