Papua New Guinea will continue to depend heavily on mineral exports for the bulk of its foreign currency earnings, while simultaneously remaining a largely agricultural country in terms of employment and food production. Exploration for new mineral deposits continues on a large scale, and several projects, such as a nickel mine in Ramu, are likely to open within the next few years. The Lihir gold mine, one of the world's largest, has recently started operating and production is expected to increase. As always, the mining sector is subject to international market conditions, especially demand for minerals and changing prices.
The country's mining sector is coming under increased international scrutiny for its environmental practices. For example, villagers downstream from the Ok Tedi mine have accused the mining company of negligence in releasing toxic materials into local rivers and other water sources.
Papua New Guinea is also likely to see a continuation of political tension, especially with respect to tensions between the national and provincial governments. The independence movement on Bougainville island still simmers, although there is hope that peace talks will finally resolve the dispute. Other provincial governments are demanding greater powers and the national government will have to come to terms with these demands.