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O’Neill ‘silent’ over Solwara deep sea mining risks

Pacific Media Centre | Deep Sea Mining Campaign

Deep water mining vesselAN ENVIRONMENTAL ADVOCACY group has accused prime minister PNG prime minister Peter O’Neill of “falling silent” on the controversial Solwara 1 deep sea mining venture planned off the coast of Madang.

“Why has our prime minister fallen silent on this core issue?” asked Wence Magun, national coordinator for the Madang-based Mas Kagin Tapani and also a steering committee member of the Deep Sea Mining (DSM) Campaign.

The campaign wrote to O’Neill last December expressing environmental concerns about the Solwara 1 mine and asked for documents relating to the approvals process of Nautilus Minerals Solwara 1 deep sea mine be made publicly available.

The campaign is still awaiting a response.

“After receiving our letter last December, our prime minister described the environment as a core issue," said Mr Magun.

“But communities are still waiting to hear how he will address the many risks associated with the Solwara 1 mine – and they want to hear this before his Government re-opens any discussions with Nautilus. Why has our PM fallen silent on this core issue?”

Nautilus has been in dispute with the PNG government since last year and the company suspended operations relating to the Solwara 1 project in November 2012.

Meanwhile, Nautilus president and CEO Michael Johnston said a few days ago that the company has high hopes for a resolution to the dispute.

Oigen Schulze, director of Zero Inc, a community organisation in New Ireland, said: “Local communities have not sanctioned the Solwara 1 project. No one knows what the impacts of this form of mining will be.

“Communities want to know what concrete steps the Prime Minister will now take to ensure we are not being used us as guinea pigs in a seabed mining experiment.

“We know that Nautilus are secretly visiting remote communities in New Ireland province and trying to convince them to agree to deep sea mining. This is not informed consent – these communities have not been provided with information about the risks they also face.”

Dr Helen Rosenbaum, coordinator of the Deep Sea Mining campaign, said: “Solwara 1 is the world’s first deep sea mining experiment. The eyes of the world are watching to see how the PNG government deals with the flaws in the Nautilus EIS and the high level of community concern.

“The people of PNG deserve to know that their government is acting in their best interests and is not putting their lives and livelihoods at risk.”


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Joanna Mogerema

PNG is a grown up country and many changes have already started to develop.

As it was stated, Nautilus Minerals Solwara 1 deep sea minie is a new experiment.

Since it was new, our goverment and the local communities had to consider the effects and benefits the company will bring and not just the amount of money.

Every decisons made by the goverment must be for the people's benefit and the nation as a whole.

Peter O'Neill was not supposed to ignore the issue as one of the prominent leaders of this nation.

Jerilee Diaram

As a citizen of this nation, I would like to comment that, before any further ado, people of PNG and the respective landowners have to be advised on the impacts of that mining.

They have to be aware of what is going on around them. They have to know the effects of it, they need better explanations on what is the purpose of that project and what benefit it will bring to them and the nation as a whole.

We can say that it will boom our economy but we have to think of the effects and risks of that project. Also we have the younger generation who have to be beneficiaries of those resources in the future.

So before the prime minister makes any decisions about the project, he and his cabinet have to critically think and see to all the possible outcomes of that project.

It is said that it is one of the biggest sea or marine mining projects in the world. And it is about to take place so the prime minister should be very careful and mindful in whatever decision that he is about to do or is doing.

Our resources are our riches, and we have to be very mindful when signing agreements and treaties with the foreign investers.

Robert Jikavi

Today in PNG there are many campaigns been made by the landowners concerned about environmental damage due to mining activities.

Because mining can cause massive human destruction on our environment. In many parts of PNG there is lots of mining - Ok Tedi, Pogera and many more.

However, it is first of its kind to here the Solwara deep sea mine off the coast of Madang if prime minister Peter O'Neill signs an agreement with the company to kick off the exploration.

I think PNG will at great risk, because when the exploration takes place they will dump all of their waste into the sea.

The entire marine life will be demaged and also the surrounding community living along the coast will also be affected.

It is very concerning to the people of PNG. Therefore the prime minister needs to make a good decision for the good of the people.

Annsli Kabekabe

Deep sea mining is a retrieval process that takes place on the ocean floor. Valuable metals are extracted such as silver, gold, copper and the list goes on.

The Solwara 1 project located in the Bismarck Sea just off New Ireland is a high grade copper and gold resource and the world's first seafloor massive sulphide resource.

Due to greed and pride our prime minister cannot speak to his people about the project.

The prime minister is answerable for the impacts of the project on his people if there are threats faced by the project. He has to start talking before his own people take revenge on him.

There surely will be environmental damage to the surrounding areas where the project is located.

Leakage,spills,corrosion are some major threats to the marine environment. If the project faces these problems, there will be disturbance to the benthic layer, increased toxicity and food will be affected.

These problems worry the people of PNG. The prime minister has to be smart and start making tracks because his people have their lives at stake.

Lei Atua

As Papua New Guinean citizens it is our right to know what is happening in our country especially the decisions about the government and the deep sea mining company.

Like right now the prime minister has nothing to say about the issue and he is silent. How can the citizens of this nation be aware of what is happening?

If we know nothing about what is happening between the government and the mining company then its like our rights and obligations towards this nation are being abused.

Joe Wasia

Here is an extract from my article titled 'Decision on seabed mining in PNG must be reversed' published after an interview :

"Two hundred and seventy (270) expatriates were interviewed of whom 246 said they have no idea about the method and had never seen seabed mining.

"Twenty-four people were able to explain the method but could not say how it works. They said the method is rarely used"

Yes, seabed mining will be an experimental if it is allowed by the government of Papua New Guinea.

This has been the common practice by the successive governments.

Our cries have never been heard. We are always losers on our own land.

Rozabelle Hota

We always hear news on radio and watch on television about all these projects that runs in our country, yet we don't see the benefits. The must listen to the people's voice so as to know what the people want. So they can act according to the people's will.

In this case, the Prime Minister has to now consider this and start doing something about the Solwara1 project. Him and his deligates must give proper reports and plan to the people.

Chalapi Pomat

Peter O’Neill need to grow some balls, show strong leadership and act quickly on this key issue.

It's people's livelihoods that are getting messed up here. PNG solwara is no place for dumping of toxic mining waste and no place for carrying out deep sea mining experiment.

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