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Solwara Warriors want ban on seabed mining

Anthony Walep is a lawyer assisting the Alliance of Solwara Warriors and the Centre for Environmental Law and Human Rights (CELCOR)

| PNG Business News

MADANG - The Alliance of Solwara Warriors, a coalition of coastal communities, has appealed to the Papua New Guinea government to cancel seabed mining and exploration licenses in the country.

The Alliance also called for the termination of Nautilus Minerals’ mining license, which is still active even though the company went bankrupt in 2019.

Caritas PNG – the development agency of the PNG Catholic Bishops Conference – has given its support to the Warriors’ campaign.

The director of the West Coast Development Foundation, Jonathan Mesulam, said PNG should follow the footsteps of other Pacific Island countries that have demanded a pause or a complete ban on seabed mining.

“Our stance today is to call on the government to cancel all seabed exploration and mining licenses.

“Why should we keep those licenses and invite other investors to come and destroy our ocean?

“If we are talking about the ocean we are also addressing climate action,” Mesulam said. “Both these aspects are connected.”

He said the PNG government, especially the Mineral Resource Authority, should respond to objections to seabed mining that the Warriors made in 2022.

The Warriors were also awaiting a response to objections raised in petitions in 2018 and 2021.

Caritas PNG – the relief and development agency of the PNG Catholic Bishops Conference – has given its support to the Alliance of Solwara Warriors campaign.

Jonathan Mesulam said the alliance had filed three objections to seabed mining under sections 4 and 14 of the Mining Act.

“Our first objection is that there is no national policy on seabed mining.

“The second is that there is no legal regulatory framework at the national and provincial levels to monitor the impacts of these projects.

“And the third objection is that there is not enough information on the impacts, benefits and risks of seabed mining.”

The first objection, to EL 1196, was filed in 2018; the second, to EL2537, was filed in 2020; and the third to EL 1374, was filed on 31 January this year.

“The objections seek the cancellation of exploration licenses issued to Nautilus Minerals or companies that have paid off Nautilus assets,” Mesulam said.

“Most coastal provinces support the campaign and are currently awaiting the government’s responses to the objections.”


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