Act Now PNG
23 October 2012
More than 24,000 Papua New Guineans from affected communities in no uncertain terms have said they do not want seabed mining until the Papua New Guinea Government conducts further research into the impact on their environment and source of food.
Local advocacy groups have over the course of 2012 raised awareness on seabed mining in an effort to amplify the people’s voice of concern over both the Environmental Impact Statement of the Solwara 1 project and the impact on maritime communities.
The groups involved include 4Massim, ACT NOW!, Bismarck Ramu Group, Bismark-Solomon Sea Indigenous People’s Council, East New Britain Sosel Eksen Komiti, Madang Peoples Forum, Mas Kagin Tapani, UPNG New Guinea Islands Students Union, The New Ireland Students Association of UPNG including the University of Natural Resources and Environment Students Association,
Legal Opinion obtained by a coalition of local advocacy groups, including ACT NOW! reveals seabed mining will breach the legal ‘Precautionary Principle’.
The precautionary principle dictates taking a cautious approach in matters that affect the environment when there is scientific uncertainty about the negative impacts. The principle is widely used in international environmental law and has been applied in the courts in areas such as climate change, hazardous waste, fisheries and sustainable development.
The coastal people of Papua New Guinea have had a strong spiritual and physical connection to their seas, as they do for land. Local rituals and other ceremonies in these communities have the potential of being disturbed, yet no assessment of these impacts have considered by Government of Papua New Guinea . The Environmental Impact Statement of Nautilus Minerals was reviewed in 2009 and the flaws are such that recommendations had been made then not to approve it. This however has been ignored.
Meanwhile, the economic benefits of these proposed projects seem to be minute compared to the potential risks. Papua New Guinea mainland is saturated with current and potential mines, that deep-sea mining is NOT necessary. The project anticipates only 140 jobs in total and most of those are likely to be taken up by highly technically skilled expatriates. The total tax, duties and royalty is estimated to be approximately US $40.8 million over the nominal life of the project in comparison to the probable revenue of $1 Billion. Ironically, Nautilus Minerals admits in it’s paid advertisements that one of the advantages of seabed mining is that “there are no landowners to deal with” yet it reveals royalties as a potential benefit. Who gets these royalties, if there are no landowners?