Malum Nalu | The National
27 September 2012
Minister for Environment and Conservation John Pundari has directed the Department of Environment and Conservation to hold public forums in Port Moresby and Madang to discuss, debate and present their cases on the Solwara 1 project.
He said the forums would be held at the National Research Institute in Port Moresby and Divine Word University in Madang, and would bring together experts in the areas of ocean and current modelling, ocean and marine sedimentology, deep sea geology and volcanologists, bioaccumulation and marine ecologists, and deep sea fisheries.
“These experts will be from within PNG and international, including universities, national research institutions, academia, as well as NGOs, leaders and interested individuals,” Pundari said.
“Deep sea mining Solwara 1 project is a new frontier project in PNG and the project comes with its own environmental risks.
“But those risks were assessed by competent experts from the world and region that included some of the world’s renowned scientific institutions and experts, and management strategies were developed to mitigate those risks through the development of a comprehensive environmental management and monitoring programme.
“I want these experts in oceanography, sedimentology, volcanologists, fisheries and marine ecology – including organisations such as universities, national research institutions, international and national NGOs, and other experts and leaders – to come together, present their cases, and debate the facts on aspects of the Solwara 1 project so we can all determine whether the government’s decision to approve the project was a good or bad decision.”
Pundari said the environmental permit for the project was granted to the developer, Nautilus Minerals, after the state was satisfied that it had followed all due processes.
He urged stakeholders to understand that the issuance of an environmental permit was not the end of the process, “but the beginning of the legal contractual relationship and commitment between the state and the developer to manage the environmental impacts of the project in a responsible and transparent manner”.
“In the light of the public concerns being raised regarding seabed mining by various sectors of the community, I have directed the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) to facilitate the public forums to explain the regulatory processes to stakeholders,” Pundari said.
“The discussions will also provide an opportunity for stakeholders to bring forth their views to the state.
“No doubt Papua New Guinea is going to be the first country in the world to venture into deep sea mining.
“We want to go into these new frontiers with full backing of good science and the way to do it is to bring together all experts to debate the facts in a public forum so that the public is informed of how decisions are made by the government to approve or disapprove a development project.”