BC Mining Resisters: Alliance of Solwara Warriors and allies
Location: New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea
Mining Company: Nautilus Minerals
Written By: Emma Zarnke
Deep sea mining has been a recurring threat within the past 10 years. Seabed mining proposes to extract mineral deposits from the ocean floor, by either breaking apart the surface or picking up already broken pieces on the floor. This causes disruption to the marine life, big and small, animal or plants.
In Papua New Guinea (PNG), Nautilus Minerals, a mining company that commercially explores the ocean for mineral deposits, proposed an operation deep sea mine 25 km off the coast of New Ireland Province. This project was first proposed in 2009, and since then, the project has yet to reach operational capacity due to the financial state of the company, as well as due to local resistance.
There has been a constant resistance to the deep-sea mining projects, especially against the proposed Solwara 1 project by the Alliance of Solwara Warriors. They have resisted to directly oppose the project of Solwara 1, since its initial proposal in 2009. The resistance is composed of communities within the local areas affected by these deep sea mines, including local communities within PNG and across the Pacific.
The company Nautilus has had ongoing financial difficulties, since their returns to investors have consistently been less than profitable. The two major shareholders of Nautilus are international companies, Metalloinvest mining and Omani conglomerate MB Holding and Nautilus has sustained on their loans. Currently, Nautilus remains entangled in bankruptcy-related court proceedings, selling off assets in an apparent effort to cushion the blow to these key players.
As one commentator noted, “After all the promises of riches to Papua New Guinea, it appears that the main beneficiaries will be the highly paid executives in Nautilus, and those investors who cashed out early.”
At a recent open forum in Namatanai, locals of West Coast Namatanai and representatives of Duke of York Islands, East New Britain Province, issued a joint statement emphasizing their view that the risks and uncertainties of experimental seabed mining are too great to allow this industry to ever proceed in Papua New Guinea:
“As New Irelanders we have two world class mining in Lihir and Simberi gold mine. We have logging operations and oil palm industry operating in the Province. We have run down plantations that can be used for cocoa or copra project that support local people.
“We believe we have enough resources available that can sustain and support our daily survival.
“We simply do not want deep sea mining in our waters.
“The government has made a bad investment option that our country and ordinary citizens are paying the price. The funds invested in Solwara could have been used for medical supplies, education materials or road maintenance along the West Coast area to support local farmers. What a waste of funds! We should learn from our mistake and not repeat such a bad decision.
“There is growing opposition against Solwara 1 project and the Government should not risk funds that may be used for the benefit of ordinary PNG citizens. The Government must be warned this fight against Solwara 1 project is not over.
“As coastal communities, we have always been connected with our seas. Our identity, our livelihoods, our cultural practices cannot be separated from the oceans.
“The risks and uncertainties of experimental seabed mining are too great to allow this industry to ever proceed in Papua New Guinea.”
For more information:
- Deep Sea Mining Campaign
- Loop PNG
- Solidarity with Alliance of Solwara Warriors
- CBC News on Deep Sea Mining by Nautilus
Join us to celebrate BC Mining Resisters of the Year at the GALA OF RESISTANCE on Wednesday, May 1st in Vancouver, BC, unceded Coast Salish Territories.