PNG MPs Criticize Government Investment In Sea Bed Mining

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Newly revised Nautilus project criticized as bad for country

By Imelda Wavik

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, May 1, 2014) – The national Government’s intention to buy a K300 million [US$105 million] shares in a proposed mining project has been criticised by two Members of the Parliament.

Oro Governor Garry Juffa and Sumkar MP Ken Fairweather have both expressed grave concerns over the Government’s proposal of buying the shares from Nautilus limited’s Solwara project which is still in an uncertain situation.

Mr Juffa has stated that the project, which concerns sea bed mining, will have a dangerously negative effect on coastal areas in the region and eventually throughout the country.

He highlighted that the government’s intention to buy shares in the project may be a good one financially for the people of this country, but the project itself will do no good.

Governor Juffa also voiced grave concerns that many elected members of parliament were against sea bed mining but had been very quiet on the matter because they did not wish to upset the government.

But he said leaders had to speak up about their concerns for their people, the environment and the future interests of Papua New Guinea.

The governor stressed that there is no revenue needed from this project as it is a dangerous project which will cause more harm than good.

"We do not need the revenue from this illegal project that may cause much damage to our coastal communities’ livelihoods," he said.

Mr Fairweather said he was not satisfied with the intention of the government.

The member has expressed great dissatisfaction with the government betting money on an untried process.

He said the government’s money would be better spent on other promising projects such as the palm oil project in East Sepik.

He said the money proposed to be spent on the untried Solwara-1 project would be better spent in East Sepik where it could create plenty of jobs.

"You would have a better chance of getting a return by betting on the Melbourne Cup," he said.

He said the Government is trying to hide this in an obscure company no one has heard of.

"The whole policy of investing in resource projects is flawed and must be challenged. Whatever verbal spin the government wants to put on this is a con job. I agree totally with Governor Juffa," he said.

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