PNG’s approach to deep sea mining is ‘chaotic and uncoordinated’, all licences must be cancelled

Alliance of Solwara Warriors

(Papua New Guinea) Local communities across the Bismarck and Solomon Seas accuse the PNG Government of sending mixed messages about deep sea mining describing the Government’s approach as ‘chaotic and uncoordinated’.

“The Alliance of Solwara Warriors represents thousands of people across the Bismarck and Solomon Seas who oppose seabed mining to protect our cultures, lives and livelihoods for current and future generations”, stated Jonathan Mesulam, Alliance of Solwara Warriors.

The Alliance of Solwara Warriors, civil society and PNG Churches have been speaking out against Solwara 1 for many years. This included a joint letter in June 2019 calling for the Papua New Guinea Government to cancel all Nautilus Minerals deep sea mining licences and to ban seabed mining in Papua New Guinea.

“Our Prime Minister has supported Fiji’s call for a Pacific regional moratoriumand declared the Solwara 1 project in PNG national waters a total failure,” continued Mr Mesulam. “The Minister for State Owned Enterprises, Sasindran Muthuvel has recommended the Solwara 1 project be discontinued.”

“Earlier this year, Jerry Garry, Managing Director of PNG’s Mineral Resource Authority said that PNG had invested a lot of money in this risky project and would probably have to write off the US$120 million (K408.8mil) as State debt.”

Last month Mr Garry, ruled out any chance of revisiting the failed Solwara 1 project. Despite this, the MRA is conducting stakeholder consultations for the renewal of seabed mineral exploration licences for Nautilus Nuigini.

“This is a cowboy company owned by the same investors who ran Nautilus into bankruptcy and left PNG in debt - they have no concern for the wellbeing of our people or our oceans” declared Mr Mesulam.

“We would like to know why the MRA is conducting this process to renew their exploration licences against the views expressed by the MRA’s own Managing Director, the Hon. PNG James Marape and other senior ministers?”

In  July 2020 thousands of objections to the renewal of these licences from local communities, schools and churches in, New Ireland Manus, East New Britain, Madang, Morobe and Milne Bay Provinces were lodged to the Mineral Resource Authority (MRA).

“PNG’s approach and process to deep sea mining are chaotic and uncoordinated. We call on PM Marape, senior Ministers and the MRA managing director to walk their talk and cancel all licences for deep sea mining exploration and mining.”

“It’s time to listen to Papua New Guinean citizens and to economic common sense.”

For more information: Jonathan Mesulam, Alliance of Solwara Warriors and Director, West Coast Development Foundation, mesulamjonathan[at], +675 70038933

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