Civil society groups take PNG government to court over Nautilus seabed mining project
Australian Network News
11 November 2013
A coalition of NGOs is mounting a legal challenge to the world’s first license to operate a deep sea mine in Papua New Guinea.
The license was granted under the former Somare government to the Canadian company Nautilus for its Solwara 1 mine.
One of the NGOs which is taking the government to court over the seabed mining project is Stop Experimental Seabed Mining in the Pacific.
Its spokesman Wenceslas Magun has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat that the current government has been “arrogant and ignorant”, despite its appeal to stop the project.
“Just this fear that it’s going to threaten our marine environment, our marine ecological system and affecting the livelihood of the people that benefit off our marine resources,” he said.
Mr Magun says the move to block the project is a precautionary measure.
“The majority of Papua New Guineans that live off the marine resources do not know what the threats of seabed mining is going to cost to the marine environment,” he said.
Mr Magun says the group’s advisors – which include scientists and lawyers – have “clearly indicated that there is going to be damage to the ecological system”.
“Nobody knows what the impact of the damage is going to be to the marine ecosystem because no one has ever done seabed mining in the world,” he said.
“It’s only based on assumptions… we cannot learn from lessons learnt in the past and mitigate any effect that does happen should the seabed mining take place.”
Mr Magun says the group has been told “there is sufficient grounds to take the matter to court.”
“Based on these information from our experts, we are going to strategise how we are going to address the issue,” he said, adding that a working committee has been formed to take the matter forward,” he said.
“We know that other countries like in Australia, the… people have banned attempts to mine their sea floor.
“And the government of Australia, the state of Queensland had adhered to their appeal.
“The (PNG) government has not heard our appeal, that is why we are taking this matter to court.”