A powerful and still growing coalition of local people, NGOs, politicians, scientists and lawyers has put a stop – at least for now – to the greedy plans of Canadian company Nautilus Minerals to mine the seabed in Papua New Guinea for gold, silver and copper.
After facing wave after wave of opposition, not just in the local coastal communities of New Ireland, New Britain and Madang but also at the Rio Summit in Brazil, the Pacific Island Leaders meeting in the Cook Islands and outside its corporate headquarters in Vancouver, Nautilus Minerals has been forced to announce the cancellation of the construction of its mining vessel and the laying off of 60 staff.
The Nautilus share price, already at historic lows, has plunged more than another 40% on the news.
Foreign mining companies, motivated by their greed for profits, have become accustomed to simply trampling over the rights and interests of local people and undermining the PNG ‘pasin’. This is despite the protections supposedly guaranteed for ‘Papua New Guinean ways’ in the country’s Constitution.
The companies bribe their way in the country with empty promises about their so-called ‘investment’ providing jobs, money and services and then holding the country to ransom to accommodate their demands for equity contributions, tax breaks and lax permit requirements.
But PNG people are growing wise to the truth behind this fairytale, and seeing that these alien companies are simply here to fatten themselves at the expense of Papua New Guinean people and their environment.
Nautilus Minerals has received a shock – they didn’t expect the opposition to their plans to be so vocal, so widespread or so organized, and other mining companies will be sitting up and taking notice of the size of the opposition, its growing strength and its apparent determination to make sure Nautilus is not the only foreign company to find its plans blocked.
Maybe the days of foreign companies making big profits at the expense of PNG, its people and environment are coming to an end.