Merolyn Ten | Post Courier | March 10, 2017
THE world-first seabed mining project in Papua New Guinea due to start in 2019 will not be harmful to the environment, says Mining Vice-Minister Wera Mori.
But, no we don’t have any independent science to back this up – I just rely on what the mining company says!
Mr Mori is confident that the Solwara 1 project that will mine copper and gold deposits from the seafloor at a depth of 1600 metres in the Bismarck Sea, off New Ireland Province, does not pose a major environmental hazard.
“The seabed mining offers an alternative that could be less environmentally destructive than land-based mining. The copper deposit on the sea floor are about 10 times more concentrated than a typical land-based copper mine, so less material needs to be extracted to achieve a similar production rate,” he said.
“Could be less environmentally destructive” – sounds like someone is guessing!
Hard to think the noise and vibration of 100 tonne machines strip mining the sea floor is not going to have some impact on whales, dolphins, sharks and other marine life…
Mr Mori said the deposits were at the surface, so large amounts of material did not need to be removed. Unlike land-based mining, seabed mining occurs where people do not live and requires little production infrastructure, and increased worker safety with the operations being conducted remotely.
He said that the metals will be mined into the subsea slurry lift pump (SSLP) and transported through the riser and lifting system (RALS) pipe straight onto the mining ship or the production support vessel (PSV).
“The mined copper and gold deposits will be then taken straight to demanding countries including Japan, China, Korea and India.”
And all the unwanted waste rock and sand and silt will be pumped straight back into the ocean – please don’t leave that part out, Mr Minister…
Nautilus Minerals is the Canadian company in charge of the Solwara 1 Project, being developed in a joint venture with State entity Kumul Minerals Holdings.
However, according to the Deep Sea Mining Campaign, a project of the Ocean Foundation, Solwara 1 Project would represent “the first large scale, human-induced, site-specific disturbance to the deep ocean basin anywhere in the world, hence it must be considered with exceptional deliberation and caution”.
A call has been made to the Government to place a ban on the experimental seabed mining.
This call was made by the Caritas Co-ordinators of the 19 Catholic dioceses in solidarity with Alliance of Solwara Warriors, Bismarck Ramu Group, and concerned organisations that resolved to speak out on behalf of the silent majority affected by the proposed “experimental seabed mining” of Nautilus Minerals Limited.