Troubled Papua New Guinea deep-sea mine faces environmental challenge

Community groups accuse PNG government of keeping documents for its approval under wraps.


By Helen Davidson and Ben Doherty


A controversial experimental deep-sea mine is being challenged in court by environmental groups who have accused the Papua New Guinea government of withholding key documents about its approval.

Nautilus Minerals Inc, a Canada-based company primarily owned by Russian and Omani mining firms, wants to extract gold and copper deposits from 1.6km below the surface of the Bismarck Sea, using a seabed mining technique never before used in commercial operations.

Nautilus told the Guardian it has conducted dozens of community meetings – reaching more than 30,000 people from nearby islands – and has had its key documents, including a detailed environmental impact statement, publicly available for years.

But members of nearby communities, represented by the Port Moresby-based Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights Inc (Celcor), claim they were not adequately consulted and that they hold grave concerns over its impact.

There are also concerns over its financial viability and the PNG government’s stake in it.


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