Papua New Guinea's mining minister says a world first deep sea mining project in territorial waters must proceed because the government has already granted the company involved a licence to do the work.
The comment accompanies increasingly vocal opposition to Nautilus Minerals' plan to develop its copper-gold project in the Bismarck Sea, starting next year.
Pacific civil society organisations have launched a petition calling on their governments to slow the development of seabed mining and a new report on the Nautilus venture says not enough is known about its impacts for it to go ahead.
Byron Chan says despite his personal opposition to the project, the government is committed.
"I really can't do much at this time because there is no default on any sides for revocation of the licence. So ongoing discussions must take place between the people, government and the company."
However Byron Chan says he believes the project cannot proceed until all parties are in agreement.