THE CONQUEST OF COPPER MOUNTAIN by Forbes Wilson

THE CONQUEST OF COPPER MOUNTAIN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Ertsberg, a hill among the unexplored remotenessess of Irian Jaya (Western New Guinea), Indonesia, contains the richest above-ground copper deposit on earth, and in 1960 mining engineer Forbes Wilson led the team that first developed the new find. The circumstances, indeed, are more intriguing than the story. The way to the copper was by dugouts manned by Stone Agers and a trek through jungle more dense than any in Africa or Brazil. With Wilson were Jon Ruygrok, a botanist and former Dutch marine who did advance reconnaissance, John Bowencamp, a mining engineer; an Indonesian radio operator and a cook; and Moses Kelangin, a Westernized mountain tribesman of high intelligence. The tribesmen, with no sense of manufacturing, believe that their Western cargo is of supernatural origin, given by a deity after a secret ritual which the whites hid from them. By the time the team is into the mountains, many are ill with malaria and fatigue. And the controlled panic of crossing a wildly waving rattan bridge over a gorge is no help. When the Ertsberg is reached and climbed, the ore samples are equal to expectation. At an old base camp abandoned 24 years earlier the party finds pristine sardine tins, unrusted by the low-oxygen air. Natural vegetation is gigantic, primordial. The return down with their samples finds them walloped by monsoons. Back in the States development of the new fred looks impossible, especially with Sukarno now nationalizing foreign investments. But Sukarno passes and the project revives. A 63-mile access road is built through mangrove swamps and jungle and two mountains, and then comes the plant itself, monstrous with difficulties. But by 1984 the project will be mined out. . . . Lots of cultural lore, spectacular scenery, sweat-and-toil, but only mildly gripping.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Atheneum