Pacific Media Centre | Deep Sea Mining Campaign
“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.”