[google-translator]
72,153 OCEAN PASSPORTS
1,419 PARCELS SPONSORED
1,239 SPECIES FRIENDED

Deep Sea Mining in Papua New Guinea

Source: World Ocean Radio/Peter Neill - July 12, 2017 in Radio

Deep Sea Mining in Papua New Guinea
Photo: Taro Taylor/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0)

The ocean is continually and exhaustively over-exploited: over-fishing by international fisheries, sand mining for construction projects and artificial islands, coral reefs and marine species for medical advances, and deep sea mining for minerals. In this episode of World Ocean Radio we discuss the controversial Solwara One project proposed by Nautilus Inc. for mining minerals offshore Papua New Guinea. We share outcomes from the Nautilus Annual Meeting and read a selection of comments from community members opposed to the project.

Transcript:

Welcome to World Ocean Radio…

I’m Peter Neill, Director of the World Ocean Observatory.

It has been some time since we reflected here about deep sea mining, the inevitable search for minerals of all types on the ocean floor. We have seen already how marine resources are being over-exploited: international fisheries being the most egregious example, and mining for sand for giant construction projects, including artificial islands as a means to extend the reach of territorial waters. We have discussed here as well the exploitation of coral reefs and certain marine species in our never-ending search for the next medicine, the next cure for human diseases based on understanding and synthesis of how such organisms function.

The Deep Sea Mining Campaign, an organization based in Australia and Canada, has been following the saga of Solwara ONE, proposed by Nautilus Inc. for offshore Papua New Guinea that continues to seek financing year after year since 2011. The project is basically a kind of corporate speculation premised on the lucrative idea of the availability of such minerals conceptually in the region. Indeed the company has declined to conduct a preliminary economic study or environmental risk assessment. The idea that they should be required to justify their endeavors to governments, third-world or otherwise, or to coastwise populations whose livelihood and lives depend on a healthy ocean from which they have harvested for centuries, is anathema.

Deep Sea Mining in a recent newsletter reports on the Nautilus Annual General Meeting where CEO Michael Johnston was asked:

• Is it true that without the normal economic and feasibility studies, the economic viability of Solwara ONE is unknown?
• Is it true that the risk to shareholders of losing their entire investment in Nautilus is high and the potential returns promoted by Nautilus are entirely speculative?
• Is this why Nautilus is struggling to obtain the investment to complete the construction of its vessels and equipment?

According to the release, Johnston declined to have his responses recorded and evaded providing clear answers. However, he did affirm the accuracy of the description of the Solwara ONE project in the Annual Information Forms as a ‘high’ and ‘significant’ risk.

Local communities are also not interested in Nautilus’s experiment. In recent weeks, two large forums against the Nautilus Solwara ONE deep sea mining project in the Bismarck sea have been held in Papua New Guinea. Both forums called for the halt of Nautilus Solwara 1 project and a complete ban on seabed mining in PNG and The Pacific.

Here are some comments from those meetings:

Patrick Kitaun, Caritas, “The Bismarck Sea is not a Laboratory for the world to experiment with seabed mining. Our ocean is our life! We get all our basics from the ocean so we need to protect it. We will not allow experimental seabed mining in Papua New Guinea. It must be stopped and banned for good.”

Jonathan Mesulam of the Alliance of Solwara Warriors stated, “Nautilus, we are not guinea pigs for your mining experiment! We in the Pacific are custodians of the world’s largest ocean. These oceans are important to us as sources of food and livelihoods. They are vital for our culture and our very identity. Solwara ONE site is right in the middle of our traditional fishing grounds. We will stand up for our rights!”

Vicar General, Father Vincent Takin of the Diocese of Kavieng stated, “In order, for any development to take place, the people must be the object of development and not subject to it. The people have not been fully informed about the impacts of Solwara ONE on the social, cultural, physical and spiritual aspects of their lives. Therefore they cannot give their consent.”

Nautilus does not appear to be a major international energy company with the assets available to force this project forward as others might. The opposition is well organized and vocal with arguments and expectations that the company probably will not overcome.

We hope.

As with offshore oil exploration alongshore and it the deep ocean, this project is isolated in an opposing political context and shifting market. It is not for this time, for these people in these places, who have no concern for the loss of stranded assets of invisible gamblers in the face of the gain of conserving and sustaining their ocean resources for local benefit and the future.

We will discuss these issues, and more, in future editions of World Ocean Radio.

WORLD OCEAN RADIO IS PRODUCED BY THE WORLD OCEAN OBSERVATORY IN ASSOCIATION WITH WERU FM, BLUE HILL, MAINE. WORLD OCEAN RADIO IS DISTRIBUTED BY THE PUBLIC RADIO EXCHANGE AND THE PACIFICA NETWORK. FIND OUR PODCAST ON ITUNES AND AT WORLD OCEAN OBSERVATORY DOT ORG.

World Ocean Radio is brought to you in collaboration with the World Ocean Observatory. The World Ocean Observatory advocates for the ocean through independent, responsible, apolitical science, and is dedicated to advancing public understanding of ocean issues through institutional collaboration and partnerships, pro-active programs, and connection with individual subscribers around the world.

To view the Creative Commons license for the image, click here.

Print article