Papua New Guinea stops the world's first deep sea mining project near the former German colony after protests of indigenous fishermen
No natural resources from the sea:
The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) expressed relief about the fact that the world's first deep sea mining project just off the coast of Papua New Guinea in the South Pacific was stopped. "The social and ecological consequences of this controversial deep-sea mining project for the indigenous fishermen must first be investigated before any new permits are issued," said the STP's Asia-expert, Ulrich Delius, in Göttingen on Friday.
In December, the Canadian mining company Nautilus Minerals had started preparing the deep-sea mining project in the Bismarck Archipelago of Papua New Guinea – which was supposed to start next year – because the government had refused to provide financial support for the project. Nautilus Minerals was planning to excavate minerals 30 kilometers offshore from the island of New Ireland at a depth of 1,600 meters. Papua New Guinea was supposed to contribute an investment sum of 75 million US dollars.
"The standstill is also caused by protests of the indigenous peoples, who had repeatedly criticized the government of Papua New Guinea for supporting the controversial project near New Ireland," said Delius. On October 23, 2012 critics had filed a petition with 24,000 signatures and demanded the work to be interrupted.
Fishermen fear that the deep-sea mining project could destroy the fish stocks – and Marine scientists had also expressed concerns and demanded extensive investigations of the consequences for nature and man, before the project can be continued. Many of the more than 100,000 islanders hope for a further development of the local fishing industry, which exports the coveted tuna, mainly to Japan.
Around 72 percent of all the export revenues in Papua New Guinea are generated from selling minerals and oil. The island of new Ireland – which covers about 9500 square kilometers, being 320 kilometers long and about eleven kilometers wide in average, was called „Neumecklenburg“ during the German colonial period (1885-1918). It is now inhabited by Melanesian indigenous peoples for more than 30,000 years.