This paper examines the 'property effects' surrounding competition over access to mining benefits in Papua New Guinea. Under conditions of rapid social change engendered by large scale resource extraction, Lihirian islanders have increasingly recalibrated their social networks, manifest through shifting notions of sociality and obligation, and ownership strategies that seek to limit other people's claims to wealth. These local changes are paralleled by larger and more paradoxical processes: although the state uses the mining project to consolidate itself, Lihirians have consistently challenged the state through their attempts to appropriate the mine for their own ends. By keeping the multiple layers of their social networks out of view, Lihirians deny the connections that can provide others with access to benefits. In considering the strategic responses to the inequalities, discontents and inconsistencies of life in modern Papua New Guinea, it becomes apparent that questions of property are simultaneously questions about identity and belonging.