The National, Thursday 6th September, 2012
By MALUM NALU
MINING Minister Byron Chan says a licence and 10-year lease have already been given to Nautilus for its Solwara 1 project off the coast of East New Britain and New Ireland provinces.
He said this yesterday when asked by The National to comment on the issue, which has created controversy both in PNG and overseas.
“The fact is that Nautilus already has a licence,” Chan said.
“The mining lease is for 10 years.
“Licence was given in March 2011 before I came in as (mining) minister.
“I’ll make sure that I’m in a capacity to put systems in place to monitor the whole activity (underwater mining).
“As the local MP (Namatanai), I’m in control.
“I’m the most-affected person in this whole issue.
“I’ll deal with it appropriately when the time comes and make sure that everyone’s views are reflected in the memorandum of agreement.”
Chan said he was mining minister and all matters to do with the environment would have to be dealt with by the minister for environment and conservation.
“Environmental matters for the minister for environment and conservation,” he said.
“However, it is in my electorate, and as the minister for mining, I’ll make sure that everything is monitored appropriately
Asked if he supported the Solwara 1 project, Chan said: “We have to deal with it.
“There’s nothing that’s been given away on a golden plate (to Nautilus).
“There were a lot of scientists from all over the world who carried out environmental impact studies before the permit was approved.
“There were thorough scientific assessments before providing the licence to Nautilus.”
Nautilus chief operating officer Anthony O’Sullivan said last week the Solwara 1 project was a “Level 3” activity under the PNG Environment Act 2000 (Section 53), which required that an Environment Impact Statement (EIS) be submitted to the PNG Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) for review.
“An extensive multi-stakeholder approach has been used in preparing the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and the EIS for the Solwara 1 project,” he said,
“Workshops were held involving local and international NGOs, PNG government, and local and international scientists to determine the studies that were required to properly evaluate the environment, to identify which groups should conduct these studies, and to estimate project impacts.”
The EIS was submitted to the DEC in September 2009, and public hearings for the EIS were held on November 2009.
“The EIS was then reviewed by the DEC and an independent international consulting group was engaged by the DEC over a six-month period,” O’Sullivan said.
“The EIS was then reviewed by the Environment Council, a group of leading PNG scientists who recommended to the environment minister to issue an approval-in-principle of the EIS in August 2009.”