GROUP SEEKS MORATORIUM ON SEA BED MINING LICENSES

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Pacific Network on Globalization wants base-line studies

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, May 31, 2011) - Pacific rights groups have renewed their call for a moratorium on the granting of deep-sea mining licenses in the Pacific.

It comes ahead of a regional meeting in Fiji next week, to map out the future of ocean mineral mining which is a potentially lucrative industry for the Pacific region.

[PIR editor’s note: Maureen Penjueli, coordinator of the Fiji-based Pacific Network on Globalization, told Radio New Zealand International that if ecosystems are not mapped, it would be impossible to detect the negative impact of deep sea mining.]

In January, the Papua New Guinean government granted the world's first commercial lease for deep-sea mining to Canadian-based Nautilus Minerals, which is set to extract gold and copper from the sea bed about 50 kilometers off the PNG coast.

About eight other Pacific nations have also granted exploration licenses, but there are few regulation guidelines in place and environmental groups are concerned about the long term impact of mining.

Maureen Penjueli, from the Pacific Network on Globalization told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat there is a lot of resistance in PNG because people have seen the problems associated with land based mining and are very wary.

"Local communities have been resisting and are opposed to deep sea mining particularly in New Ireland and New Britain," she said. "And so our role really is to facilitate and to try and bring their voice to the regional level."

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