Benny Geteng | Post Courier | 4 September 2018
THE PNG Council of Churches has called for a total ban on seabed mining in the country.
The Council of Churches representatives from the United, Anglican, Catholic, Lutheran, Salvation Army, Seventh Day Adventist, Evangelical Alliance Church of Manus, Baptist and Body of Christ made their stance known after considering the seriousness of the activity on the seabed.
The representatives said in a joint statement that the seabed mining will only bring destruction to the ocean life; and people are being forced by developed industrialised countries to go along.
“The world is watching PNG and it will be a joke to the world if PNG says yes to this destructive monster in the absence of a relevant national policy and legislative framework on off-shore seabed mining.
“Following the Madang Guidelines concluded in 1999, we call on the National Government to ensure a separate policy and legislation is developed before off-shore mining including deep seabed mining activities is commenced in the country,” they said.
The representatives said the government should also clarify to the churches and the people of PNG as to what consultation processes have been undertaken to develop relevant policy and legislation governing off-shore mining.
Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative reports have highlighted that PNG is not getting its fair share of resource revenue and as such the churches have expressed concern that the States equity participation in the Solwara 1 project will be a waste of taxpayers’ money.
“We call on the government to be more focused on people development rather than profit development when making crucial decisions.
“The government must consult the people, ensuring citizens and the public are aware of the benefits and the negative impacts of these developments and allow them to make informed decisions on what the people think is best for them,” they said.
Nautilus Minerals Company is the developer of the Solwara 1 project located in the Bismarck Sea which will cover provinces such as New Ireland and East New Britain.
The National Government had obtained a loan of K400 million in 2014 from Bank South Pacific to acquire 15 per cent equity in the project.