Seabed mining a risky business, says expertPublished by MAC on 2011-04-12
Source: Papua New Guinea Minewatch
Previous MAC articles: PNG Governor condemns proposed seabed mining project & Critics See PNG as Guinea Pig in Deep-Sea Mining
Seabed mining a risky business says expert
By Peter Korugl
Papua New Guinea Minewatch
5 April 2011
The Government is taking a big risk with its decision to take up its 30 per cent stake in the Solwara 1 project in the Manus Basin. This is the warning from one of Papua New Guinea's leading expert on the Manus Basin, the site of the project operated by Nautilus Minerals Niugini Limited.
"Is the government well informed about the Solwara 1 project in Manus Basin before it decided to take up 30% equity in the project?" Dr Kaul Gena, lecturer at the Western Australian School on Mines, Curtins University asks.
Dr Gena, the only person in PNG who has explored the sea bed of the Manus Basin, said a lot of issues have been raised by different authors over the years but none of these issues has been addressed by Nautilus Mineral Niugini Limited.
Dr Gena said he would like to pose these issues again for the Government to consider.
- What are current ore reserves of Solwara one project and its adjacent areas?
- What mining methods are they going to use at 1700 metre depth when the ores are hosted by hard dacitic to rhyolitic lava?
- The ores consist of lead and arsenic bearing minerals, what are the possible mitigation measures that the company will use to avoid environmental contaminations?
- Where will the company process the ore and where will they dump the tailings? People leaving in areas adjacent to the processing plant will be subjected to lead poisoning like those in Mt. Isa and Esperance, Australia
- The submarine hydrothermal sites are known to host very unique submarine organisms that host unique symbiotic microorganisms that are noble to understanding the evolution process. How will the company preserve such organism when it is destroying its habitat?
These are some very important questions that needs to be addressed by the Nautilus Minerals Niugini Ltd and its joint venture partners.
I think the time for yes sir should be over in all sectors of business investment in PNG. I won't be surprised if this project is not brought into production within the next few years
Dr Gena says the government is making an ill informed decision to squander tax payers' money on a project that is not economically viable.
Do we have geologists and mining engineers in MRA or Department of Mining who should be providing sound advice to the government? For goodness sake let's not be ignorant.