On 6 November 2012, the Deep Sea mining campaign released a new report authored by Oceanographic expert, Dr. John Luick. The report found that the Nautilus minerals Solwara 1 EIS seriously downplays the risks facing local communities and the marine environment in Papua New Guinea.
Download Nautilus statement defending the EIS, below is Dr. John Luick’s response to Nautilus Minerals statement.
Tuesday 13 November 2012 | Nautilus’ response is surprisingly weak. Neither they nor the consultants have criticised the substance of Dr. John Luick’s analysis. They claim that the Deep Sea Mining campaign has made unfounded assumptions about the process. Interestingly the information about the process came directly from Nautilus Minerals Environment Manager, Samantha Smith and the consultants.
The key response to Nautilus’ weak criticism is the need for transparency – in particular making publicly available the Cardno report, permit conditions, environmental management plan and full data set as per the Deep Sea Mining campaign’s letter to the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC), our media release, and the report’s foreward and preface.
Nautilus has advised the Deep Sea Mining campaign that the proceedings of the consultation for the Environmental Management Plan will be released in “due course”. Nautilus described their Salt Lake City workshop held in February 2012 as demonstrating transparency and openness even though it was attended by a group of hand selected scientists who had signed confidentiality agreements. Is this amongst the achievments that Nautilus is so “extremely proud of”?
Dr. John Luick’s response to Nautilus Minerals defence of EIS
Question: Nautilus said that they have engaged some of the best scientists in the world for the Solwara 1 EIS. Do agree with this?
Luick: I believe they did employ some top people to prepare other sections of the EIS. You’d have to ask someone else about them. I only reviewed the physical oceanography part and that analysis was definitely not done by “the best scientists in the world”.
Question: They have also said that the PNG Department of Conservation have already done what you recommend in your review, I mean, they contracted with Cardno Acil to validate the modelling using the data found in the EIS. They say that Cardno Acil’s modelling completely supports the modelling in the EIS, and even goes so far as to conclude that the surface waters are not at risk.
Luick: Yes, I believe I mentioned in my review that the DEC had employed Cardo Acil and that it appeared to be a good step in the right direction. The problem is, until I see the Cardno Acil report, and what recommendations it made, and how they were implemented, it is impossible to judge how genuine the DEC’s attempt was at validation. For example, if (as Nautilus say) the Cardno Acil modelling used only the data that was available from the EIS, then their models might share the same flaws – I mean just get the same flawed results. And if they are saying that either modelling exercise could somehow conclude that the surface waters are not at risk, this is strange, as the modelling had almost nothing to do with the surface waters. Here’s an idea: if the Cardno Acil modelling report to the DEC were to be made public, we could put an end to the speculation. It all comes back to transparency.
Question: Finally, Nautilus claims that research based on the work that went into the EIS has led to numerous scientific publications, and that omitting the surface currents from the EIS is justified by the engineering design which they think will avoid contamination of the surface waters.
Luick: In the first place, they didn’t completely omit surface currents from the EIS. They presented a diagram which purported to show surface currents at Solwara 1, which in fact was misleading, because it was a large-scale schematic showing currents flowing to the open Pacific Ocean. There is no reason to expect the actual local surface currents to follow that schematic. All they omitted was a plot of the surface currents they measured. Like I said before, the best way to end the speculation is for Nautilus to simply produce a plot of the surface current data. I asked Nautilus for that several times. It would be interesting to double-check it against the global HYCOM model surface currents for that area to see how representative the Nautilus observations were of that part of the Bismarck Sea.
In The News
- Sci-Dev News: Review claims ‘poor science’ in deep-sea mining report
- ABC News: Oceanographer questions analysis of PNG seafloor mine data