MAC: Mines and Communities

Australia: Northern Territory declares seabed mining ban

Published by MAC on 2021-02-08
Source: Northern Territory Government, Marine Conservation (2021-02-08)

A great win for Traditional Owners, environment groups, fishers, tourism operators and scientists.

The Territory Labor Government has decided to declare a ban on seabed mining. The moratorium was introduced to allow the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA) and Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA) to prepare advice to Government on the actual or potential impacts of seabed mining on the NT’s environment, including its social and cultural environments, and sacred sites. 

The Alliance of Solwara Warriors (ASW), Kiwis Against Seabed Mining (KASM), and the Deep Sea Mining Campaign (DSMC) have sent out a joint media release to congratulate and welcome the Northern Territory governments decision to ban seabed mining.

Adele Pedder from Keep Top End Coasts Healthy said “We commend the Gunner Government for listening to the evidence, and the people of the Northern Territory, and acting to ban this destructive activity. Healthy coasts and rivers are central to our Top End way of life, our economic success and our culture.”

See also:

2020-12-18 Secretive ‘gold rush’ for deep-sea mining dominated by handful of firms, report
2020-11-12 Deep Sea Rush: Speculators are circling
2020-08-17 The Early Week Essay: Recalling the Nautilus deep-sea debacle
2020-06-25 Deep sea mining poses huge, unknown, species' risk

Sinking Seabed Mining - Papua New Guinean, Australian and New Zealand civil society welcome ban on seabed mining in Northern Territory

Joint Press release (DSMC / KASM / ASW) - http://www.deepseaminingoutofourdepth.org/wp-content/uploads/210211_MR_Sinking-Seabed-Mining.pdf

11 February 2021

With the destructive threat of seabed mining opening up in the South Pacific, the Government of the Northern Territory, Australia have made a stand in permanently banning seabed mining[1] to protect Top End coastal ecosystems and regional economies.

A nine-year campaign in the Northern Territory led by Traditional Owners, environment groups, commercial and recreational fishers, tourism operators and scientists opposing the seabed mining industry welcomed the government’s decision to ban seabed mining. The ban has also been welcomed by civil society across the Pacific and Internationally.

Jonathan Mesulam, Alliance of Solwara Warriors in Papua New Guinea (PNG) stated, “We congratulate the NT government on this decision. For over a decade we have been opposing the world’s first deep sea mining project, to be given an operating licence, the Solwara 1 mine in the Bismarck Sea, only 25km from my traditional village.”

The Alliance of Solwara Warriors, civil society and PNG Churches have been speaking out against Solwara for many years. This included a joint letter in June 2019[2] calling for the PNG Government to cancel all deep sea mining licences and to ban seabed mining in national waters.

“PNG has no need for seabed mining. We are blessed with abundant fisheries, productive agricultural lands and marine life. Seabed mining will benefit only a small number of people who are already wealthy and not bring prosperity to our communities and Indigenous ways of life.”

Fierce opposition in New Zealand, ongoing for over a decade, has banded Traditional Owners, environment groups, scientists, commercial and recreational fishers together in calling for a ban.

Cindy Baxter, Chair, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, said, "This political decision by the Northern Territory Labour government to ban seabed mining is leadership that prioritises care for the well being of their marine spaces and of the people who rely upon and are connected to those spaces. Protecting the ocean environment from seabed mining pre-emptively puts people and places over profits - at the expense of those people and those places.”

"It's time for the New Zealand government to follow this example. Seabed mining has been shown to be inappropriate and unacceptable through two failed seabed mining application processes, and another that's been rejected by two courts, as we wait for the Supreme Court to make a final decision. After 15 years of failed attempts by the miners, it's time to draw a line on the sea floor and put an end to all of our pain."

With the call for a ban on seabed mining in New Zealand and Papua New Guinean waters, there is also an international call for a moratorium[3] on deep seabed mining. This is seen as the responsible way forward until several fundamental conditions can be met, including environmental, social and economic risks to be comprehensively understood with no loss of biodiversity and the free, prior and informed consent of coastal communities.

“Not only will deep sea mining result in the loss of species and damage the seabed for thousands of years, it would potentially result in negative consequences for the rest of the ocean and the people who depend on its health[4],” claimed Natalie Lowrey, Deep Sea Mining Campaign.

“We congratulate the Northern Territory Government in leading the way with a permanent ban on seabed mining. The stakes are extremely high particularly for Pacific economies, cultures and livelihoods, as well as iconic marine species that will all be under threat from both shallow and deep seabed mining.”

More Info

Jonathon Mesulam, Alliance of Solwara Warriors, Papua New Guinea
mesulamjonathan[at]gmail.com, +675 70038933

Cindy Baxter, Kiwis Against Seabed Mining, New Zealand
cindybax[at]gmail.com, +64 21 772 661

Natalie Lowrey, Deep Sea Mining Campaign, Australia
natalie.lowrey[at]gmail.com, +61 421 226 200

[1] Protecting our Environment: Government to Ban Seabed Mining, media release, 5 February 2021
Northern Territory Government, https://newsroom.nt.gov.au/mediaRelease/34139

[2] Joint Letter calling for the Papua New Guinea Government to cancel all Nautilus Minerals deep sea mining licences and to ban seabed mining in PNG, 28 June 2019, http://www.deepseaminingoutofourdepth.org/joint-letter-calling-for-the-papua-new-guinea-government-to-cancel-all-nautilus-minerals-deep-sea-mining-licences-and-to-ban-seabed-mining-in-png/

[3] Deep Sea Conservation Coalition representing over 80 organisations globally has a moratorium position on deep sea mining, http://www.savethehighseas.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/DSCC-Position-Statement-on-Deep-Seabed-Mining_July2019.pdf

[4] Chin, A and Hari, K (2020), Predicting the impacts of mining of deep sea polymetallic nodules in the Pacific Ocean: A Review of Scientific literature, Deep Sea Mining Campaign and MiningWatch Canada, 52 pages, http://www.deepseaminingoutofourdepth.org/wp-content/uploads/Nodule-Mining-in-the-Pacific-Ocean-2.pdf


 

Seabed mining ban - a win for marine life, fishing and culture

Australian Marine Conservation Society - https://www.marineconservation.org.au/seabed-mining-ban-a-win-for-marine-life-fishing-and-culture/

5 February 2021

Keep Top End Coasts Healthy welcomes the Northern Territory Government’s announcement today to ban seabed mining, saying it’s a win for marine life, fishing and culture.

The Northern Territory Government first declared a three-year temporary ban on seabed mining in March 2012 and has since extended it twice under both the Country Liberal Party (CLP) and Labor Governments. With the temporary ban due to expire in March, Territorians have made it clear that they want a permanent ban. It’s great to see today the Government listen and act on this important issue.

Adele Pedder from Keep Top End Coasts Healthy said “We commend the Gunner Government for listening to the evidence, and the people of the Northern Territory, and acting to ban this destructive activity.”

“The Top End has some of the last healthy tropical coasts in the world. Seabed mining is like bulldozing the seafloor. It would decimate our marine life, pollute our waters, threaten our fishing and destroy places of cultural significance.”

“Mining corporations were lining up to mine some of our most precious places like Fog, Anson and Blue Mud Bays, the Wessel Islands and Limmen Bight*. Traditional Owners, environment groups, commercial and recreational fishers, tourism operators and scientists have raised concerns about the ecological, cultural, social and economic impacts of seabed mining in the Top End.”

“Healthy coasts and rivers are central to our Top End way of life, our economic success and our culture. They underpin one of the most important economic and cultural pursuits – the Top End fishing experience. They contribute $2billion to the Territory economy each year, supporting more than 6,000 jobs and are a powerful drawcard for tourists from around the world.”

“By banning seabed mining, the Gunner Government has today demonstrated their commitment to protect our coasts and safeguard our fishing, lifestyle and regional economies ” said Ms Pedder.
 
Media Contact: Adele Pedder 0422 108 539


Protecting our Environment: Government to Ban Seabed Mining

Northern Territory Government https://newsroom.nt.gov.au/mediaRelease/34139

4 February 2021

The Territory Labor Government has decided to declare a ban on seabed mining in the Territory.

A moratorium on mining activities in the sea and coastal waters is due to expire on 5 March 2021. It will be extended for up to another six months to allow for the Environment Minister to consult on the draft prohibition declaration, and how it will operate in NT coastal waters.

Seabed mining has never been undertaken in the Northern Territory. Worldwide there are very few seabed mining projects, and there is limited information available to identify and inform best practice environmental management and rehabilitation in the marine environment. This is particularly important in the Territory where our waters are shallow, clean and highly dynamic and our marine and coastal environments are mostly intact.

The Territory Government knows our natural environment is one of our best assets and a huge part of what makes living in the Territory so special.

We also know that a healthy environment creates a stronger economy and more local jobs – good environmental policy is smart economic policy.

The moratorium was introduced to allow the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA) and Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA) to prepare advice to Government on the actual or potential impacts of seabed mining on the NT’s environment, including its social and cultural environments, and sacred sites.

The NT EPA undertook extensive public consultation on its draft advice, and has provided the results of this consultation to the Territory Government.

Following consideration of the NT EPA and AAPA reports, Government’s position on prohibiting seabed mining in the Territory is based on:

To view the report prepared by the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority visit: ntepa.nt.gov.au 

Quotes from the Minister for Environment, Eva Lawler:

“Our natural environment is one of our best assets and it’s a large part of what makes living in the Territory so special.

“It is important that our unique environment and the jobs that rely on it are protected – and that is exactly what this Government is doing.

“The Territory Labor Government remains focused on being the comeback capital of Australia through a diverse range of existing and new job-creating industries in the Territory, while also protecting our environment.”
 
Media Contact: Jasmine Roussos 0439 003 248

 

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