Tag Archives: experimental seabed mining

United Nations against experimental seabed mining in PNG

Merolyn Ten | Post Courier | April 20, 2017

THE United Nations is against the world’s first seabed mining operation which is set to start in two years time in the Bismarck Sea, off the coast of New Ireland Province.

Copper and gold deposits will be mined from the seafloor at a depth of 1600 metres. The UN says this will cause major environmental destruction not only to the communities in New Ireland but the entire Pacific Ocean, and is against the 14 Sustainable Development Goals of the UN.

“There is a high likelihood that mining will disrupt life under the sea and potentially cause mass devastation for biodiversity,” UN resident co-coordinator Ray Trivedy said. The 14 SDG states the importance of conservation and the sustainable use of the ocean, seas and marine resource.

Oceans, especially the Pacific Ocean which PNG is in, contain nearly 200,000 identified species, but actual numbers may lie in the millions. UN main targets were to prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans as stated in the UN Convention Law of Sea.

“I am against sea bed mining because despite what some companies say, I am not convinced that it will lead to sustainable development,” Mr Trivedy said.

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Easter and the environment

Namosi exploration

Archbishop Peter Loy Chong | The Fiji Times | April 14, 2017

Peace — Shalom! (May you have fullness of life). Peace is the first word uttered by Jesus to his disciples after he rose from the dead. Jesus greets the disciples who were still traumatised by his humiliating and brutal death.

Easter celebrates the most important event of the Christian tradition, namely the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, the writings of the New Testament have no record of Jesus’ actual rising from the tomb. Instead it only has accounts of the appearances of Jesus to the disciples. This means that the disciples’ knowledge and experience of the Risen Jesus was given to them. In other words revelation is a gift from God. Therefore, to understand what happened on that original Easter and to reinterpret its meaning for Fiji today we turn to the disciples’ experiences of the risen Jesus.

The Easter-experience took place in the context of Jewish peoples’ suffering and hope for liberation. Ever since the Babylonian exile around 587BC, the Jews have always looked forward to their liberation when God will send a messiah. One of the earliest records of Easter is found in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians (1Cor.15:3-5); “Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” The New Testament Easter narratives taken as a whole hold the following structure:

  • Jesus revealed God to the disciples,
  • The disciples had to overcome a certain doubt or disbelief,
  • The Risen Lord charged them with a mission.

Easter began with an experience. Jesus’ life, teachings, miracles, suffering and death gave new meaning and purpose to the disciples. They experienced liberation, truth and hope. In other words they came to know Jesus as the Christ, the anointed one, the messiah. In Jesus they found the truth that was worth living and dying for. Easter and Jesus’ resurrection is not only about the dead body of Jesus coming back to life, rather it was more about how the spirit and life of Jesus lifted up the lives of believers. Easter charged them with a mission for the whole world. This is the Easter Good News.

What is the Easter mission for Fijian Christians? In this reflection I want to focus on our Easter mission in the context of climate change and caring for our environment or in the word’s of Pope Francis I, Our Common Home.

Today the message regarding the vulnerability and destruction of our common home, the earth, has been made clear. Pope Francis’ letter addressed to all the peoples of the world, “Laudato Si: Encyclical Letter on Care for our Common Home” states that the earth, our sister, now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.” (Laudato Si no.2) He adds that “The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.” (Laudato Si’no. 66) Human beings are responsible for the cry of the earth, our sister and mother.

Pope Francis raises important questions that challenge our Easter mission to protect and raise our fallen home and all that live in it.

  • “What kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us, to children who are now growing up?”
  • “This question does not have to do with the environment alone and in isolation; the issue cannot be approached piecemeal.”
  • This leads us to ask ourselves about the meaning of existence and its values as the basis of social life: “What is the purpose of our life in this world? What is the goal of our work and all our efforts? What need does the earth have of us?”
  • “Unless we struggle with these deeper questions I do not believe that our concern for ecology will produce significant results.”

Last week I came to know of a quarry operating near Natadradave, Dawasamu that intends to crush all the stones and rocks it can find in the river alongside the village and sell the crushed stones locally and overseas. They have carried out an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) and hence given a licence to operate a quarry. I am deeply concerned how the extraction of stones from the river will affect the environment in the nearby villages of Natadadrave and Delakado. What impact will it have on the fishes, prawns and other creatures that depend on the river including human beings? What will happen if there is heavy rain and flooding?

The people of Natadradave are not the only victims of some so-called development projects. We already have bauxite mining in Bua. There is mining interest in Wainunu, Bua. A mining company has been carrying intensive mining explorations in Namosi for the last 40 years. Some reliable sources state that their licence for Deep Sea Mining in Fiji’s ocean has been issued. Along with the extractive industries we have to take into account the logging industry and any industry that exploits our natural resources. All these projects carried out in the name of development must be evaluated and questioned in regard to social and ecological justice. How do they develop and protect human beings, creatures and the environment?

Easter brings the message of hope to the Jews and early Christians who have been oppressed for years. Easter message therefore speaks against the destruction of peoples, the environment and the planet. May the Easter services and prayers give us the strength to follow the Risen Lord courageously in his suffering, death and resurrection. Alleluia!

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Ban seabed mining, says Cardinal

Naomi Wise | The National aka The Loggers Times | April 11, 2017 

CARDINAL Sir John Ribat is calling on the governments of PNG and the Pacific to ban seabed mining in their countries.

Sir John, who has just returned from Suva, Fiji where he attended a workshop on seabed mining at the Pacific Theological College, said this in support of people living in coastal areas and islands in the Pacific.

“The ocean is home to people living around coastal areas and islands,” Sir John said.

He said they realised the impact the seabed mining will have on the ocean.

“And that is why it is vital we highlight the importance of our lives in association with the sea,” Ribat said.

“My fear is, if this happens, our people will go into the deep ocean to fish.

“We also don’t know how long it will take for the ocean to heal itself after the destruction the seabed mining will cause,” he said.

“Do you want to see our people suffer?”

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Panda says risks of experimental seabed mining outweigh the limited benefits

International NGO group WWF says proposed experimental seabed mining will provide little benefit in Pacific island countries, while the risks and costs could be significant.

This is the conclusion in a new economic report commissioned by the Panda from policy and research consultancy firm MainStream Economics, titled Counting the Potential Cost of Deep Sea-bed Mining to Fiji.

Key findings from the study include:

  • Direct benefits to Fiji from experimental seabed mining are likely to be relatively small. While the major benefits will be from additional royalty and tax revenues, the major value adding will occur outside the Fijian economy.
  • There are a number of potential costs to tourism, commercial fishing, and other ecosystem services. These are poorly understood due to the current lack of information and data available on the risks to the marine environment, the relationships between those risks and key sectors, and the economic value of affected sectors.
  • Tourism is a key sector that is potentially at risk, particularly loss of Fiji’s reputation as a world-class marine tourism destination. Even relatively small reductions in overseas visitors can have significant economic consequences for tourism. Just a 5% decline in dive tourist visits would reduce Fiji’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by around FJD 14 million, and could result in the loss of more than o400 jobs.
  • Commercial fisheries, particularly tuna could also be impacted from plumes and water column discharges causing disruptions to marine food webs. Even small reductions in catch rates can have large economic impacts. Just a 5% reduction in catch rates would result in a 15% fall in value added and a 21% reduction in operating surplus/profit for the fishing industry. There would also be negative flow-on impacts in the processing sector.
  • Experimental seabed mining will also have an impact on other ecosystem services such as carbon abatement and the existence value of biodiversity.
  • In addition local residents derive cultural and subsistence benefits from the sustainable management and use of the marine environment. Little is known about the actual risks to those values in the Fiji context.

Download the report: Counting the potential cost of Deep Sea-bed Mining to Fiji [warning file size is 10MB]

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NZ seabed mining plan is madness

Black gold: Taranaki’s seabed could be mined. Photo/file

‘Companies involved in these boom-and-bust industries are known for rushing ahead with great gusto, only to suddenly scale back production, laying off workers as jobs disappear and, in fact, often disappearing altogether, leaving behind damaged ecosystems and pollution for the community to clean up’

Graham Pearson | NZ Herald | April 10, 2017

NEW Zealand resources have been ravaged through history by boom-and-bust industries that have extracted timber, gum, gold, coal, oil and gas.

Now there is a crazy proposal to mine at sea our West Coast black sand, using untried and untested processes, with its suggested economics based on yet another old-fashioned boom-and-bust industry.

Just a few minutes’ Google search revealed the crazy price fluctuations of iron and steel. From a maximum price of US$191 ($275) in February 2011, iron crashed to US$37 in December 2015, while steel has an even bigger range: US$1265 in June 2008 to just US$90 March 2016.

Companies involved in these boom-and-bust industries are known for rushing ahead with great gusto, only to suddenly scale back production, laying off workers as jobs disappear and, in fact, often disappearing altogether, leaving behind damaged ecosystems and pollution for the community to clean up.

Recently spending two days attending the EPA’s Decision Making Committee (DMC) hearing in New Plymouth, I was heartened to hear many, many organisations, iwi and members of the local communities speaking out for most of those two days against yet another extraction industry. Members of the fishing and dive clubs provided amazing footage of the undersea world just off the Taranaki coast, giving all of us present an idea of the wonderful environment that is at stake. Others spoke for the mammals that live in or travel through this section of the Taranaki bight.

Others spoke with passion of their connections with the sea through their lifestyle and heritage, which they see as threatened with the TTR’s proposal. Some objectors, with experience of sea-based industries, were able to give us valuable perspectives of this huge ocean-based proposal, with its weather-related risks and disruption to the ocean floor.

A locally based economist pointed out to the DMC how the trickle-down idea for economic value has not worked in the Taranaki oil and gas industries. These extraction industries are known for “fly-in” workers taking the skilled, high-paying jobs, leaving only lower level and support industry jobs for the locals. He also pointed out that while New Plymouth and close environs might gain support for Womad and other local community activities, South Taranaki remains an economically depressed area with low incomes, job shortages and a high level of child poverty.

We even know, from Minister Judith Collins’ recent statement, that the oil and gas industry needs multimillion-dollar handouts to close down its end-of-life wells.

In contrast to this valuable evaluation of the proposal, our “guardian” organisations, DOC and councils, took a neutral stance.

The Government’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment has supported the proposal and seems to think it’s wonderful — despite TTR’s previous application being declined, and the company seeming to need a Callaghan Innovation Fund grant of $15 million to keep it afloat while preparing to submit its second application.

The DMC has extended the hearing deadline to the end of May, against some community opposition, to further examine the sand plume issue and consider possible mitigation options.

So we wait until June to see if the decision is again a sensible decline or if we get yet another extraction industry.

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Pacific churches against experimental seabed mining

Pacific churches call for a ban on experimental seabed mining in Papua New Guinea and the Pacific

Lice Movono | The Fiji Times | April 9, 2017

CHURCH leaders from the Pacific have called on governments and people of the Pacific to unite to preserve the region with regards to seabed mining.

In an acknowledgement of industry action in sea bed mining the churches acknowledges that developments were taking place in some governments but they singled out the government of Papua New Guinea for having issued mining licenses.

“We also acknowledge the campaigns against Seabed Mining by local communities in PNG. We are aware of the destruction by Seabed Mining,” the church statement said.

“Therefore, we call on the PNG Government and other Pacific countries to put a stop to testing of Seabed technology on PNG Land or Seas.”

The churches who were joined at the workshop by representatives of civil society organisations called on the rest of the non government community to unite stand with the churches and the Alliance of Solwara Warriors “to say NO” to any development regarding Seabed Mining in their area.”

“We call on the Governments and the people of the Pacific to stand together to preserve our common home for the unborn and the future generations.”

“We call on all the people and the governments of the Pacific to stand together in solidarity to Ban Seabed Mining in PNG and the Pacific.”

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Seabed mining law boost

Dr Pierre-Jean Bordahandy and Dr Lili Song.

Lice Movono | The Fiji Times | April 5, 2017

PACIFIC governments may soon have answers to major concerns about seabed mining which can be useful in the formulation of laws which govern the issue.

This follows a boost to the University of the South Pacific’s ability to provide research based analysis and advise when it won a research grant recently.

According to a statement from the University of the South Pacific (USP), two academics from its School of Law won the grant worth AUD 7000 from the Guangdong Institute for International Strategies.

The USP says the grant will fund a research project which examines the development of legal framework for deep-sea mining in South Pacific Island States.

The two academics, senior lecturer, Dr Pierre-Jean Bordahandy and lecturer Dr Lili Song, are based based at USP’s Emalus Campus in Vanuatu where they will will conduct the research.

The USP says Dr Bordahandy and Dr Song’s research will evaluate selected national deep-sea mining legal frameworks developed by Pacific Island governments states which consider the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and COP 21 and COP 22 agendas.

Major questions the two’s research will address include:

  • Whether there is any major discrepancy or imbalance between the international and national regimes that will lead to the shift of deep-sea mining operations from high sea areas to areas within national jurisdiction, or vice versa?
  • What is the role of the principle of precaution in relation to deep-sea mining?
  • Is there any major gap in the way deep-sea mining risks are framed in the various national regimes considered?

“According to Dr Bordahandy, the vast ocean floor of the Deep South Pacific is generally said to boast great potential of valuable mineral resources, however, its exploitation poses technical, environmental, economic challenges both to coastal states and to the international community,” the USP said.

Dr. Song said their analysis may help Pacific governments to make informed decisions as they legislate deep-sea mining “and to better address the various challenges presented by deep-sea mining operations.”

The project which started in December 2016 ends in November 2017.

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