The Australian government is spending $900,000 to promote experimental seabed mining mining in the Pacific region. This is despite the widespread opposition to this untried new technology and the failure of existing mining projects to deliver meaningful benefits and their appalling environmental and social costs.
The Australian government’s aid agency, AusAID, has awarded the three-year contract to the Australian National University. The purpose of the project is supposedly to help ‘developing countries best manage seabed mining’.
The spending is part of a range of projects initiated by the Australian government which focus on promoting a mining agenda in the Pacific region. The mining industry dominates the Australian economy and holds a powerful influence over its politicians, bureaucrats and academia.
According to AusAID this latest project has three main aspects:
First, it will locate and test the assumptions underlying developing state-sponsored deep seabed mining, including assumptions that developing states will capture significant revenue, that such revenue will be directed at sustainable development, and that environmental risk can be minimised and managed. Second, it will identify and develop legal options (national and international) for the effective participation of developing states in environmentally sound mining activities in the deep seabed both within and beyond national jurisdiction. Third, it will explore developing country options for structuring strategic alliance and cooperation.
The project will be focused on Papua New Guinea; Nauru; Cook Islands, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Kiribati, Tonga, Fiji.
The European Union is also funding a similar project promoting experimental seabed mining in the Pacific.