29 August 2012
Canadian Firm Nautilus Minerals who is the operator of the Solwara 1 seabed mining project faces stiff opposition from Pacific communities to stop its project after the PNG government granted a 20-year mining lease last year.
Opposition Leader Belden Namah has condemned the action and told the Peter O’Neill-Leo Dion Government that he will do everything in his power to make sure that the project is stalled or abandoned.
Mr Namah said the Government must explain to the people of Papua New Guinea of the sudden rush to approve a mining project, which is the first of its kind in the world.He said PNG’s exclusive economic zone has valuable resources like fisheries and the project will endanger the country’s marine environment and the resources it has in its territory.
Mr Namah and other parties in his Opposition want the Government to explain to the people of PNG if someone or people in the current have any incentives to give the green light to this controversial project.
“As senior executive officer in the Opposition I would like to make it clear that the Opposition team is fully against that seabed mining project because the citizens of Canada are standing in solidarity with civil society in the Pacific against project,” a source with the Opposition who did not wish to be named told the Post Courier yesterday (Friday).
“Our main concern is not to allow Nautilus Minerals to come and take advantage of our resources and marginalise the 7.5 million people and the future generation of this country,” the source said.
Dr. Catherine Coumans of Mining Watch Canada said that Canadian mining companies operate around the world and dominate the sector, but Canada does not regulate their activities to prevent them from profiting from weak protection for the environment, workers and human rights in some host countries.
“Now, in spite of very serious concerns that have been raised by scientists and local citizens, we have Nautilus proposing to mine environmentally, socially and culturally significant sea beds in the Pacific, an activity that would not be allowed in Canadian waters,”
Sharon Diave-Nerius from the East New Britain Social Action Committee said that public reaction against Nautilus is welcome news for communities in Papua New Guinea but there are plenty of other companies and governments pushing for this experimental industry in the Pacific to get started.
“The speed with which the PNG Government approved the EIS and granted the mining license to Nautilus did not pay respect to the customary norms and cultural heritage of the indigenous people of the Bismarck Archipelago,”
“Experimental mining of our sea beds is not going to provide any direct services or benefits for local communities.”