MEDIA RELEASE: PM recognizes Solwara 1 environmental impact as a Core Issue: What steps will the PNG Government now take?

6 December 2012 | Australia, Papua New Guinea

Today the Deep Sea Mining Campaign will deliver a letter to the Prime Minister of PNG. The letter welcomes Prime Minister Peter O’Neill’s recent statements recognizing the environmental impact of Solwara 1 as a “core issue”.

However, the Campaign is concerned that the PM has not clearly laid out how the PNG National Government will now ensure that environmental impacts are addressed prior to the re-commencement of the Solwara 1 mine.

Professor Chalapan Kaluwin of the Environmental Science & Geography Department at the University of Papua New Guinea states, “The priority issues of intellectual Property Rights, the health of communities and the environment of communities in the Bismarck Seas and PNG’s Exclusive Economic Zone are poorly dealt with. Hence the need for transparency about the decision making process behind the issuing of the 20 year license for Solwara 1 is imperative.”

“DEC made a commitment to inform the public at a forum it was to hold in in Port Moresby last week. But it then cancelled this forum. We now have a window of opportunity to get things right beforeNautilus starts up its operations again. When will our own experts, local communities and our government talk openly and honestly on this matter”

Dr. Helen Rosenbaum, coordinator for the Deep Sea Mining campaign in Australia and author of Out of Our Depth: Mining the Ocean Floor in Papua New Guinea states, “Solwara 1 is the world’s first deep sea mining experiment. The eyes of the region and the world are watching to see how the PNG Government deals with the flaws in the Nautilus EIS.”

“Independent detailed technical analysis has shown there are many errors and omissions and that the EIS fails to provide a basis for the management of environmental risks.”

In its letter to the PM, the campaign maintains that at a minimum the PNG Government and Nautilus must now release:

  • the full oceanographic data set for the EIS;
  • the 2009 independent review of the oceanographic aspects of the EIS conducted for DEC by Cardno Lawson Treloar Pty Ltd;
  • any other independent reviews of the EIS commissioned by DEC;
  • the conditions of the Solwara 1 permits issued to Nautilus by DEC;
  • the draft environmental management plan for Solwara 1; and
  • studies that show what metals will be released, the extent to which they will find their way into the food chain, and how contaminated the seafood eaten by local communities will be.

Wences Magun, National Coordinator for the Madang based Mas Kagin Tapani said, “Local communities have NOT sanctioned the Solwara 1 project. No one knows what the impacts of this form of mining will be. Communities want to know what concrete steps the Prime Minister will now take to ensure we are not being used us as guinea pigs in a sea bed mining experiment.”

The letter to Prime Minister O’Neill can be read here:


For more information:

Professor Chalapan Kaluwin (Papua New Guinea), ckaluwin[at] + 675 7122 5454

Wences Magun (Papua New Guinea), magun.wences[at], +675 7195 9665,

Dr. Helen Rosenbaum (Australia), hrose[at] +61 413 201 793