PNG Council of Churches | Voice of Milne Bay | Alliance of Solwara Warriors | Bismarck Ramu Group | Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights | 28 June 2019
Dear Hon. Prime Minister,
Congratulations on your recent election as the new leader of Papua New Guinea and for the establishment of your new cabinet! This fills our hearts with hope for a better future.
We, the PNG Council of Churches, Voice of Milne Bay, Alliance of Solwara Warriors, Bismarck Ramu Group and the Center for Environmental Law and Community Rights, would like to draw your attention to the issue of deep sea mining in our Bismarck and Solomon Seas.
We stand with the communities of the West Coast of New Ireland Province, Duke of York Islands, East New Britain, Madang, Manus and Milne Bay Provinces who oppose sea bed mining under the Alliance of Solwara Warriors.
Together we call on the Papua New Guinean Government to cancel all Nautilus Minerals’ deep sea exploration licences, mining leases, and environment permits.
Our communities already face many unsustainable developments impacting our lands, oceans, lives, and livelihoods. This includes mining, logging, and oil palm operations. The risks and uncertainties of experimental seabed mining are too great to allow this industry to ever proceed in Papua New Guinea.
We have our own economies and natural resources to sustain and support our daily survival. We ask our government to invest in these.
Our coastal communities have always been connected with our seas. The sea is central to identity, livelihoods and culture practices. It cannot be separated.
We simply do not want Seabed Mining in PNG’s Waters.
The former government made a bad investment decision by buying into Nautilus Minerals. Our country and ordinary citizens are paying the price. The $US120m equity, a loan from BSP, that the Government invested in the Solwara 1 project could have been used for medical supplies, education, and much-needed infrastructure.
Nautilus Minerals is currently seeking protection for alleged bankruptcy and is re-arranging its affairs to protect the interests of its officers and two major shareholders. It seems like the company is not considering the impact on its shareholders which includes the PNG government.
We look to your leadership to ban seabed mining in our country and to use our nation’s funds wisely.
Therefore, we call on the new Papua New Guinea Government to:
1. Terminate the Solwara 1 mining lease and environmental permit, and all of Nautilus Minerals’ exploration licences
2. Demonstrate that it has learnt from the very costly mistakes of the former Government of purchasing a 15% stake in Nautilus Minerals and commit to:
a. Never taking up a stake in any deep sea mining venture in the future;
b. Not issuing any more exploration licences or mining leases for deep sea mining; and
c. Providing real and lasting support to communities right across Papua New Guinea by assisting thriving artisanal fisheries, growing the fledgling ocean based eco-tourism sector, and funding communications and transport infrastructure, education and health services.
We anticipate your favourable response, and we thank you and wish all God’s blessings on your efforts as our new leader.