The Hon. Mr. Peter O’Neill
Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea
FAX: 675 327 7490; 327 6630
PO Box Parliament House
Waigani NCD, PNG
6 December 2012
Dear Prime Minister O’Neill,
I would like to introduce the Deep Sea mining Campaign affiliated with Friends of the Earth Australia. We are a small team who collaborate with colleagues in PNG, the Pacific Islands region and further abroad (as far as Namibia, Hawaii and the Azores for example). Our goals are to stimulate informed debate about deep sea mining, ensure free, prior and informed consent by local communities, and to facilitate civil society engagement in decision-making about DSM.
As PNG is the testing ground for this unprecedented form of mining we have focused significant energy on examining the Solwara 1 project. You may be aware that last year we released a report (downloadable from our web site – see above) providing an overview of DSM in general and the Solwara 1 project in particular. Entitled, Out of our Depth: Mining the Ocean Floor in PNG, this report raises many concerns about gaps in the EIS and the many risks that have not been properly assessed. Subsequent conversations with Nautilus resulted in reassurances that research has since been conducted that would address these concerns. However no such information has been provided.
Consequently we have embarked on a further examination of the EIS’s oceanographic aspects. We chose to look at these due to their critical importance to level of risk that coastal communities and marine ecosystems will be exposed to. The report was released in early November and can be downloaded from our web site. The link to the report is: http://www.deepseaminingoutofourdepth.org/report
Solwara 1 is a unique project of worldwide significance. Key aspects of its approvals process are not in the public domain. This has resulted in many questions about the project’s likely impacts and the basis upon which the 20 year operating license was issued by the Government of PNG.
In the interests of transparency and informed debate, we would like to ask whether it would be possible for the PNG National Government to release:
- The full oceanographic data set for the EIS, i.e. all the data gathered and all the analysis conducted by the EIS consultants but not presented in the EIS
- The 2009 independent review of the oceanographic aspects of the EIS conducted for DEC by Cardno Lawson Treloar Pty Ltd
- Any other independent reviews of the EIS commissioned by DEC
- the conditions of the Solwara 1 permits issued to Nautilus by DEC
- The draft environmental management plan for Solwara 1
- Studies and modeling that show what metals will be released, what chemical forms they will be present in, the extent to which they will find their way into the food chain, how contaminated the seafood eaten by local communities will be and what effects these metals will have on fisheries of local, national and regional importance.
The release of the above documents would enable discussions about the recommencement of Solwara 1 to start on the right footing and with due attention paid to civil society’s concerns.
We note and welcome recent statements by yourself that recognize the need for the environmental impacts of Solwara 1 to be addressed. However, we are left wondering whether this concern is shared by the Department of Environment and Conservation. We and our PNG colleagues were disappointed by the cancellation of the public forum DEC was to hold in Port Moresby on 26-27 November. We are also disappointed by the lack of response from the Acting Secretary of DEC, Mr Gunther Joku to a letter from the DSM campaign e-mailed, faxed and posted to him last month.
We look forward to a productive discussion with your Office and with DEC. In particular we and our PNG colleagues would like to now be advised of the concrete steps the PNG National Government intends to take to ensure that environmental concerns are addressed prior to the re-commencement of operations at Solwara 1.
Wishing you all the best for a peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year,
Helen Rosenbaum (PhD)
Coordinator, Deep Sea Mining Campaign
Affiliated with Friends of the Earth Australia
National Coordinator, Mas Kagin Tapani
Deep Sea Mining Campaign Steering Committee Member