PNG Minister Defends National Deep Sea Mining Plans

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Claims Nautilus Minerals has complied with regulations

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Sept. 4, 2012) – Mining Minister Byron Chan is defending deep-sea mining investor, Nautilus Mineral’s Solwara 1 project in Papua New Guinea’s Bismarck Sea.

Chan said recent media publicity had been misleading that the O’Neill government had initiated the deep sea mining project.

He said the investor was given a mining license 19 months ago by the then Somare Government.

However, he said as a responsible government, the O’Neill government, had taken the project on board and would ensure that all stakeholders benefitted from it.

"I want to again assure the various stakeholders that this government is committed to ensuring that our mineral wealth is harnessed in the most optimal and responsible way," Chan said.

He said issues relating to deep-sea mining were its environmental impact, lack of baseline data, lack of specific policies and the social and economical benefits.

He said he would not respond to the concerns raised as they did not fall within the direct responsibilities of the mining minister.

Chan said Nautilus Minerals had complied with all laws of the country.

He said Nautilus was issued an environmental permit after independent studies carried out by environmental consultants engaged by the Department of Environment and Conservation. He said Nautilus was now in the process of putting together an environmental management plan.

Chan added the Papua New Guinea government had been complying with national and international laws.

He said mining laws covered both sea and land, "thus mining activities offshore or on land is guided by the mining law."

He said Nautilus Minerals had to comply with the Mining Act, Environment Act 2000 and the United Nation’s Law on Seabed. Chan also said deep-sea mining was not new to the country.

He said the first was done in Madang and baseline data had been taken from there to do the Solwara 1 project. Chan also said Nautilus, through the data in the deep-sea project in Madang, had come with more innovative technology and that the Bismarck Sea Solwara 1 project was not completely new.

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