Tag Archives: open cut strip 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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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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Nautilus aborts trials in Oman and opts for testing in PNG

Twelve months ago Nautilus sent its machines to Oman for wet testing – so why are the machines now in Port Moresby for exactly the same set of tests with no mention of what happened in Oman?

Nautilus submersible trials will start soon

Rosalyn Albaniel | Post Courier | April 04, 2017

THE Seafloor Production Tools (SPTs) developed by Canadian Miner Nautilus Minerals for the World’s first ever deep sea mining have arrived in the country and will shortly commence submerged trials.

Nautilus vice president Adam Wright, who flew in from Brisbane where he is based said the equipment was shipped mid-March from a ship yard where they had been stored, arriving in Port Moresby on Monday.

Mr Wright told the Post-Courier the equipment would undergo a series of trials over a four to five month period at Motukea island.

He said the four things that the Canadian miner will be testing are the stability of the machine, how efficiently they can cut rock, how efficiently they can collect rock and how well the operator can control and monitor submergible using visualization technology.

“This really puts the spot light on PNG in taking the lead role in developing deep sea mining and this is a joint initiative between Nautilus and PNG through Kumul Mineral Holdings Limited.

Nautilus chief executive officer Mike Johnston in commenting on the arrival of the machine said

“We are delighted to be given the opportunity to complete these trials in PNG rather than overseas.

Not only will it result in the addition of over K6million into the PNG economy and employing of thousands of Papua New Guineans. [THOUSANDS OF JOBS – REALLY!]

“It will also ensure that our partner Kumul Mineral Holdings, government officials from the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA), Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA) as well as from New Ireland and East New Britain provincial governments can fully participate in the trials.

“The machines will not be deployed into the ocean so there will be no impact on the seafloor around Motukea Island Instead the machines will operate in an existing fully enclosed excavation on the island,” the CEO said.

Meanwhile, Mr Wright said after the trials have been concluded the equipment will be shipped back to China to be integrated onto Nautilus’ production support vessel which he added is currently being built in a shipyard in there.

“Once the ship completed and completed its sea trials then that vessel will come back to PNG,” Mr Wright said.

He said the firm remains confident that the commissioning of the mining operation will fall in the early part of 2019.

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