Governments should not rush into seabed mining despite promises of major monetary benefits from the industry, regional churches will be told in a meeting next week.
Advisers to the Pacific Conference of Churches’ 10th General Assembly in Honiara, the Solomon Islands will tell delegates that seabed mining is the next potential threat to the Pacific.
The warning will come on the same week that Fiji’s Cabinet will hear a proposed seabed mining legislation drafted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Correspondence obtained last week shows that the ministry invited a number of local and regional organizations to what it described as a consultation on the propose laws.
The letter confirmed that the draft would be placed before Cabinet next Tuesday (March 5).
But the Pacific Conference of Churches will encourage member organisations to consider all extractive industry carefully before making decisions.
It will also suggest that churches – as advocates for their members – address the issue of seabed mining with their respective governments.
PCC Environment Spokesman Peter Emberson said it was important that Pacific nations were fully aware of the impact of seabed and land-based mining.
“The general assembly will hear a proposal calling for churches to work together and with civil society to ensure that governments do not rush into these issues,” Emberson said.
“Extractive industry must be thoroughly researched and people made aware of the possible impacts on the environmental and social impacts before any work takes place.”
Recent studies show that communities in Bougainville continue to suffer from skin diseases and respiratory illnesses more than two decades after copper mines closed.
Fisheries and logging are also considered to be extractive industries.
Fiji, the Solomons, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea are the countries most affected by land-based mining and logging. All Pacific countries, however, will be affected by sea bed mining and fisheries.
Late last week revelations surfaced in Fiji that two multinational corporations – Lockheed Martin of the United States and KORDI of South Korea – have shown interest in seabed mining in the Pacific.