The Deep Sea Mining Campaign warns that if nodule mining is allowed to take place in the Pacific Ocean, species such as the Sperm Whale could be adversely affected. Photo: WILLYAM
Source: RNZ/Pacific news.
Communities in New Ireland in Papua New Guinea are calling on the PNG government to make clear its position on deep-sea mining.
Local communities are concerned at the renewed interest in the Solwara One project to mine the seabed in the Bismarck Sea.
The original project, the brainchild of a company called Nautilus, collapsed in 2018, costing PNG the millions of dollars the government had invested.
The government at that point, under Peter O'Neill, called it a failed project, and his successor, James Marape, at that time, backed Fiji's calls for a moratorium on deep-sea mining.
Now a company called Deep Sea Mining Finance claims it has acquired the rights to Solwara and is aiming to be the first to commercially mine the ocean floor.
The company is hoping to extract gold and copper.
James Marape Photo: PNG PM Media
But the director of the West Coast Development Foundation Jonathan Mesulam, who is part of the Alliance of Solwara Warriors, said the government must make clear its stance and stop holding secret meetings with the companies involved.
He said it seems "the Marape-Rosso government does not have the guts to come out publicly to share the latest developments surrounding the Solwara 1 project."
Mesulam said, "coastal and low-lying island and atoll communities of PNG are already severely impacted by climate change with rising sea levels and food security issues. Seabed mining is another additional burden. Our ocean must be protected at all costs."
John Momori of Caritas PNG said, "despite Nautilus Minerals going bankrupt in 2019, their existing exploration and mining licenses are still active across the Bismarck and Solomon Seas. Since 2019 we have been calling for the licenses to be canceled and for the government to place a ban on seabed mining."