Fears PNG province again keen to embrace seabed mining

4:32 pm on 7 December 2023
Sampling copper under the sea

Sampling copper under the sea Photo: Nautilus Minerals

Campaigners aiming to ensure seabed mining does not happen in Papua New Guinea (PNG) are angry the New Ireland government has been meeting with two prospective mining operations.

This is despite the PNG National government having ruled out seabed mining, with Prime Minister James Marape backing an international call for a moratorium on any seabed mining activity.

Some years ago, a company called Nautilus had hyped its Solwara One seabed mining project in the Bismarck Sea, just off the coast of New Ireland.

Bu this collapsed in 2018, costing the PNG government hundreds of millions of dollars in lost investment.

Now two companies which acquired Nautilus's assets - Deep Sea Mining Finance and Sustainable Mining Solutions - have held talks with the New Ireland government.

West Coast Development Foundation director Jonathan Mesulam, who has been campaigning to stop seabed mining for 13 years, told RNZ Pacific this new meeting has made people angry.

"For us, it makes one angry, and frustrated, Mesulam said.

"We all know that the companies are Australian. We know that seabed mining is not going to happen anymore, but meeting now, you know, it makes you angry.

"Why is the government trying to renegotiate about this project. And it's very frustrating at the moment," the director of the environmental group said.

There have been no public revelation of what was discussed at the meeting.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs