WHILE PNG Government may be for seabed mining, there is still an air of skepticism hovering over this form of mining.
This was evident in yesterday’s discussions by leaders of provinces who are attending the inaugural PNG maritime governors roundtable meeting in Madang.
Oro Governor Garry Juffa was very vocal on the issue and made known in no uncertain terms that neither he nor his people would support this activity.
Mr Juffa had revealed that his government had already engaged a lawyer to look into this matter because the unknown was far too great for the country to venture into compared to the returns.
He said for a start there were no laws in place to govern the activities and its impact and that many learned persons, including scientists abroad, had stated that it would be hazardous and had already advised against it.
He said many countries were not prepared to venture into this activity and questioned why PNG would even consider it.
The former Customs boss said if anything, a stop must be put to this project given the return on it would only equate to about four per cent.
“There is no economic return on this and the people of Oro will not entertain it. If the people are consulted by government, they will find the people to be against this project,” Mr Juffa said.
New Ireland Governor Sir Julius Chan was unable to attend the meeting but his government’s chief adviser Dr Bruce Harris had also raised some concerns over this issue.
Dr Harris said for them marine governance was critical as the province housed one of the largest and richest areas for fisheries.
He said for them the issue was very critical because not only did the country host 50 per cent of the world’s tuna stock but more importantly that being a maritime province its populace livelihood depended heavily on the sea and its marine life.
He said it was in this regard that the governor, who was unable to make it to the meeting, was not only concerned of the possible threats this activity may have and was supportive of the initiative undertaken by authorities to host this meeting.
Dr Harris said if the project was allowed by the government to go forward, proper checks and safeguards must to be in place, so that it could be stopped if any threat was detected.
He also expressed grave concerns over the tendency by the government to rail-road projects without giving provinces the opportunity to respond, adding that seabed mining was one such case in point.
He said exploration and mining licenses had been given despite objections and this must stop and provinces must be given more say.
He said while all provinces may have some things in common there were also some differences which must be respected. Pacific Mining Watch/Post Courier