Communities unite as Solwara Warriors against seabed mining

2012 9-30 PM

Radio New Zealand | 26 April 2016

Community based organisations in the areas surrounding Papua New Guinea’s Bismarck Sea have united against seabed mining.

The PNG Solwara Warriors collective is made up of more than 20 organisations from Madang, New Britain, Manus and New Ireland.

One of the front’s leaders, Patrick Kaupun, told Koroi Hawkins the decision to unite came after numerous individual petitions to the government by the respective organisations fell on deaf ears.

PATRICK KAUPUN: We are actually asking the Papua New Guinea government to ban seabed mining. We totally disagree and don’t want sea bed mining in the Bismarck Sea. So we are asking the Papua New Guinea government to totally ban sea bed mining in our waters, our seas.

KOROI HAWKINS: And how many groups are now involved in the Solwara Warriors Group?

PK: We are a total of 20 plus groups which are actually groups from within the Bismarck Area who are actually taking this stand.

KH: It seems amazing that despite this united sort of front against the mining operation or the proposed mining operation, the government continues to go ahead with it?

PK: Well it is quite interesting it is under the PNG government reform systems that we should have got this bottom up planning and people’s free prior [and informed] consent. And all those things were not done and it was actually top down. That is why we actually, are standing for our rights, for our democracy and for our country. 

KH: And is there any planned action that the PNG Solwara Warriors group is considering in the months and weeks ahead?

PK: Yes we have 20 months from now until 2018 and we are actually planning to come up with a petition that actually represents the overall landowners who live around the whole Bismarck area to come up with one petition and then we have other planned programmes in different provinces which we will use them as a venue to push against sea bed mining.

KH: And has there been any consultation at all from government or from the company itself, in terms of getting to the stage they have got? It seems to be at a rather advanced stage now.

PK: Well the company and the government actually they have, they are working with certain communities. Community groups, which these community groups have been listening to them for the past years during their awareness and all that but they are actually they were promising people and then it turned out that most recently. Early this year they actually declared that people will have no benefit in the sea bed mining. Which that happened in New Ireland. In other areas they actually did not know but this meeting actually got us to actually understand the language that the government and Nautilus were actually using in many different areas in and around the Bismarck Sea.

KH: So the actual benefits to the people in the areas to be mined are actually minimal?

PK: Yes definitely.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

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