14 Jul 2014

PNG mine lacks public consent - campaigners

11:32 am on 14 July 2014

A campaign group says the Papua New Guinea government is going ahead with an experimental new seabed mine without the consent of the people.

The Canadian company, Nautilus Minerals, is set to go ahead with its Solwara One project off New Ireland - which will be the world's first extraction of minerals from the seabed.

PNG's mining minister, Byron Chan, says his constituents have been well consulted.

But a spokesperson of the Deep Sea Mining Campaign, Natalie Lowery, says although locals have been consulted they haven't granted their consent.

"The community voice in Papua New Guinea, against what they're calling 'experimental seabed mining' is massive. It's very disappointing that the Papua New Guinean government still hasn't responded to a petition where over 25,000 Papua New Guineans petitioned to say they didn't want Nautilus to go ahead with the Solwara mine"

Natalie Lowery says the project could damage local ecosystems.

The Canadian company, Nautilus Minerals, says the project is not untested .

It would be Nautilus' first ever mining project but the company's chief executive, Mike Johnston, says its staff are qualified and the process has been tested.

"It'll be at a water depth of about 1,600 metres and a part of our studies into the project we've done cutting tests on the surface at 1,600 metres at Solwara 1 itself. We did that back in 2006 so a number of aspects of it we've already done. "

Mike Johnston says the mine looks to be the most environmentally friendly one he's worked on in a 30-year career.