Sea-bed mining is as expensive as space exploration and this means small Pacific Island Countries will not dominate if mining the sea-bed is to be allowed, said the University of the South Pacific‘s (USP) marine expert Peter Nuttall.

Nuttall, a senior lecturer at USP’s School of Marine Studies, said this meant that Pacific nations would be unable to significantly part-take unless it secured a financially secure business partner.

“Deep sea mining is a ‘game’ played where lots and lots of money is involved which means more wealth and profit for the international corporate companies, and I suspect that the companies that are working with our countries at the moment are going to end up dominating the process that we are involved in,” said Nuttall.

More importantly, he said there were simply not enough information for sea-bed mining to be allowed to proceed.

“We don’t know what the effects of deep sea mining are going to be. We can guess and we can do side drop observation, but at the end of the day, no one at this stage really knows what the results are going to  be,” said Nuttall.

Several licences for exploration of sea-bed have been granted by PIC’s.

The largest exploration project, Minerals Solwara 1 project, involves more than 1.5 million square kilometers north of Papua New Guinea’s seabed in the Bismarck Sea, and was awarded to Canadian company Nautilus.

Deep-sea mining activist Natalie Lowrey, in a statement earlier in the year, said it was unjust for the Pacific Island ocean floor to be used as the world’s laboratory for experimentation for deep sea mining and it should be stopped.

Another vocal activist Emele Duituturanga said no seabed mining should be allowed because of the potentially drastic impacts it could cause.

She said no environment impact assessments have been conducted to determine the impact of seabed mining in the Pacific and unless this was done, no discussion should even be entered to progress the present explorations.

“When we see the impact of terrestrial mining on land, the same is going to happen with seabed mining as well because it not only impacts the ecosystems and the environment, it also has social impacts as well,” said Duituturanga.

She also warned that seabed mining could lead to massive floods. Duituturanga is the executive director of the Pacific Islands Association of Non-Government Organisations (PIANGO), an umbrella group of civil society groups in the region.

Published in the University of the South Pacific’s independent student newspaper Wansolwara on July, 2016.
(Volume 21. No. 2)

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