Saturday, September 29, 2012

Questions for Pundari et al re Experimental Seabed Mining

Above: Madang People held a recent public forum in opposing Experimental Seabed Mining

The Minister for Environment, John Pundari, has called for Public Consultations regarding his decision as former Mining Minister to grant Nautilus Minerals the tok orait to conduct its Seabed a mining Experiment here in Papua New Guinea. If you are lucky to attend the forums at NRI here in Port Moresby or at DWU in Madang, please ask the Minister and govt officials these questions.

$$$ Why is the project in two phases.... Phase 1 is 30 months and Phase 2 is 17 years? Is it because Phase1 is just an Experimental Phase?

$$$ Why is the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for just for one phase when the impacts would be longer than just phase 1?

$$$ Was the EIS peer reviewed by a panel of Internationally Recognized Panel of Experts in Seabed Mining, or related fields of science before being approved by the State?

$$$ Does the State have the capacity to independently monitor the mining activities and what protocols has the Inspector of Mines designed specifically for Undersea mining?

$$$ Does the State have the capacity to independently monitor the Environmental Impacts as they occur undersea... in fact, has the State collected its own Baseline Data of the area affected by the Solwara 1 project or is it reliant on data provided by the Company?

$$$ Indeed, on what baseline data or scientific knowledge of the area did the State base it's decision to grant the approval for mining? It's important that the State present it's body of scientific data as this would explain why despite calls by experts like Prof Chalapan from UPNG, for the application of the Precautionary Principle, the State has gone ahead with the approvals.

$$$ Given that the risks associated with this project are largely unknown, does the State have the capacity to handle, stop or mitigate any unforeseen disaster that may affect thousands of communities whose daily existence in intimately connected with the Bismark Sea?

$$$ Given that some argue that there will be economic benefits, one of the benefits if you like is that this first operation will generate enormous knowledge. The question that arises then is WILL PAPUA NEW GUINEANS! THROUGH THE STATE! OWN THE SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE! INCLUDING ANY OTHER DATA GENERATED OUT OF THIS PROJECT! In other words do Papua New Guineans own the intelletual property rights or are we just gonna be used as guinea pigs?

$$$ Finally, what sort of agreement does the State have with Nautilus Minerals and will the State make that agreement publicly available to the citizens of this country in the interest of transparency and accountability so that the citizens may know if the State made the agreement in the best interest of its citizens or has the State essentially allowed Nautilus to use PNG as its guinea pig with little benefit for the people? If there are confidentially clauses that prevent the release of the agreement, clearly the interests of PNG citizens aren't being served as they are essentially being kept in the dark on the matter.

??? Oh and be sure to ask the 'scientists' who provide 'expert opinion' at the forum if they are on the Government or Nautilus payroll or if they have any other conflict of interest they wish to declare?