Solomon Islands pre-cautionary approach to deep sea mining

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The Solomon Islands Government through the Ministry of Mines and Energy will be taking pre-cautionary approach when it comes to opening up the country to deep sea mining.

This was echoed by Minister of Mines and Energy Bradley Tovosia in parliament in response to a question raised by Opposition Leader on the floor of parliament asking government’s position on deep sea mining.

In response to Matthew Wale Minister Tovosia said, the country has a number of potential spots for deep sea mining.

However, he pointed out there have been some concerns of such development on the level of the impact especially on the fish stock.

He said, many countries are looking to Solomon Islands as the next viable place for opportunities to conduct deep sea mining.

However, given the dependency of Solomon Islands on the fish stock and the unknown environmental effects of deep-sea mining, he said; “a pre-cautionary approach is reached to ensure the country gets as much possible information about deep sea mining and it economic and environment impact.”

He said, the objective of the government’s policy on mining is that it has a duty to consult with communities and stakeholders on appropriateness of the deep sea mining for Solomon Islands.

“Before issuing any deep sea mining lease to any company, the ministry will carry out a nation-wide consultation,” Minister Tovosia added.

He highlighted his ministry will closely monitoring the deep sea mining at the neighbouring Papua New Guinea’s (PNG) Solwara deep sea project and other similar underwater projects.

He told parliament the ministry will form an advisory committee, made up of representatives from various ministries such as fisheries, finance, environment and other stakeholders.

“This is to explore the impacts of deep sea mining in the Solomon Islands’ context and to ensure theres control, checks and balance, mitigation and the management of the effect of the deep sea mining,” he said.

He also highlighted that mining companies that are conducting their studies on the deep sea mining in the country are expected to share the information and data with the ministry.

Given the country’s new approach to mining, Minister Tovosia said, the government wants to handle and manage this issue carefully.

“This is a new thing and we will be very careful how we handle this when it comes to deep sea mining.

“We must learn from land mining and its important to handle this issue very careful,” he said.

Minister Tovosia in response to a question raised by Member of Parliament for Small Malaita Rick Hou whether there have been any studies being done within the country’s border to find out if deep mining is viable, he said; “there is a potential for deep seaming in the country.”

He highlighted that there was a group from Australia called Nautilus which came to the country many years ago attempting to conduct studies, however, due some circumstances, they did not proceed.

Opposition Leader Wale said, its important that the government must get support from its external partners through information as it plans to move into deep sea mining.

SOURCE: SOLOMON STAR/PACNEWS