A group representing communities in the Bismarck and Solomon seas has opposed plans by the Papua New Guinea Government and the New Ireland administration to restart the deep-sea mining project, Solwara 1.

The Alliance of Solwara Warriors (ASW), in a statement, said a recent announcement by Mining Minister Sir Ano Pala and New Ireland governor Sir Julius Chan on revisiting the project was not welcome by the group.

ASW said the national government needed to learn a lesson from the failed Nautilus Ltd project which was hampered by funding and legislative setbacks in the 2000s.
“As coastal communities, we will not support the government because we have been at the forefront of stopping this project,” the group said in a statement.

It added that Nautilus had cost the country more than K375 million (US$106 million) which could have been spent on the basic needs of its citizens such as health and education.

“We are more concerned about our marine ecosystem because this has supported us for generations and the sea has been our home and it is critically important we protect it.”

ASW said there were international treaties that had been recently accepted by the global community such as the Cop Conservation of Biological Diversity, International Marine Protected Area (Impac) and the recent Ocean Treaty which Papua New Guinea is a member.

All these documents call for the protection of the marine ecosystem and as a member of this global community PNG has participated in some of these discussions but been conspicuous by its absence from these meetings, it said.

ASW said the Government failed to attend the Impac5 in Vancouver, Canada, last month and had failed to attend the International Seabed Authority Council Meeting to be fully aware of responses from different states on the issue of seabed mining.

“It is sad that we are left behind and now confused ourselves by engaging in a project that has not been given approval by the International Seabed Authority,” it said.

The group said the current discussion on the International Seabed Authority regulatory framework needed to take precedence and the Government needed to stop issuing mining and exploration licenses.