Chamber: Don’t stall Nautilus

Business, Normal

The National, Thursday 23rd August, 2012

RESOURCE projects should not be stalled after government development approvals are granted as these would raise concerns in international investment communities of the dangers of sovereign risks, PNG Chamber of Mining and Petroleum said yesterday.
President Dr Ila Temu said this following comments made against Nautilus Minerals and its Solwara 1 project in the Bismarck sea. 
He said the granting of the mining lease to Nautilus Minerals to explore its Solwara 1 deep water prospect in the Bismarck Sea in January last year was of public knowledge.
Consultations were conducted satisfactorily with relevant stakeholders, including landowners  and the company had received other necessary approvals for development to go ahead.
Nautilus submitted its environmental impact statement (EIS) and mining lease application in September 2008, which was followed by public hearings and a review by an independent consultant engaged by the Department of Environment and Conservation.
It was only after these procedures had been followed that ministerial approval was given for issue of the environmental permit in January 2009.
Temu urged members of the public to seek facts from relevant government ministries or from the company so that their comments were based on accurate information and not on emotions.
“It’s unfair for a resource project to be stalled once environmental and other approvals have been received after many years of exploration, research and community consultations,” he said.
“This would also raise concerns in the international investment community of the dangers of sovereign risks.
“In one recent case a well-known individual told a radio station that seabed mining would involve the dumping of waste over the side of a boat.”
Temu assured the public that no reputable company would conduct its activities in this manner and no responsible government would permit such conduct.
He praised Mining Minister Byron Chan, for publicly reiterating his support for the deepsea mining project since his ministry had granted the company a mining lease in January last year

Recent media reports critical of the deep sea mining venture reported that the PNG government had only recently approved the project when in fact this happened 19 months ago in January 2011.

“It is a poor reflection on PNG’s sovereign risk profile and unfair for a project to be officially stalled after a mining lease has been granted,” Temu said.

“The chamber is of the view that continuing government support is especially important once resource projects have obtained all the necessary government permits and approvals.

“Any other course would bring PNG’s credibility as a good investment destination into disrepute and severely impair the nation’s efforts to promote economic growth and living standards.”