Deep sea mining faces storm

National, Normal

The National – Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The deep-sea mining to be developed by Canada’s Nautilus Minerals off the coast of New Ireland and East New Britain is now faced with stiff opposition.
The recently incorporated land group West-coast Central Seabed Mining Landowners Association (WCCSMLA) has the backing of the Namatanai joint district and budget priority committee (JDBPC) with a funding of K50,000 towards meeting legal cost. A further K20,000 will come from the Central LLG.
Chairman of JDBPC and Namatanai MP Byron Chan who supported the landowners’ plight said the financing of such legal battle was crucial so that the government could be made aware of the reality that any mining agreement must involve landowners.
He argued that currently the mining agreement did not accommodate the landowners’ issues and wanted to see it resolved by putting in place proper laws to safeguard the landowners.
Chan said at present, there were no mining laws that deal with the sea in PNG and wanted the landowners to pursue the court’s interpretation on this.
Recently, the landowner executives of WCCSMLA met with Chan and the media and raised their concerns and announced the legal challenge.
“We will make an application to the Supreme Court in Kokopo for an interpretation of the Mining Act,” WCCSMLA technical adviser Roboam Paka said.
He said the current memorandum of agreement had three signatories, which was the state, the developer and the two provincial governments of East New Britain and New Ireland.
Similarly, a total of K100,000 had been approved by the Namatanai JDBPC for the Simberi landowners to take the company Allied Gold to court for environment pollution, royalty differences and review of mining lease.
Chan also called on Lihir and Nimamar local level government to be prepared for the Lihir infrastructure development grants and to review current mining benefits as the agreement to increase the output gold next year had been approved.