12 Jun 2008

Pacific countries warned of potential environmental devastation from seabed mining

5:43 pm on 12 June 2008

An Australia-based NGO is encouraging Pacific governments to take a closer look at the potential devastation of sea-bed mining.

The Mineral Policy Institute is one of a number of groups raising concerns about the Canadian mining company, Nautilus Minerals, has made sea bed test extractions in PNG's exclusive economic zone.

Nautilus is also starting explorations in Tonga, and has lodged exploration licence applications in Fiji and Solomon Islands.

Although Nautilus says a yet to be published scientific impact study found sea-bed mining is environmentlly safe, the International Seabed Authority sees mining as destructive.

The institute's spokesperon, Techa Beaumont, says that regional governments need to consider this before they sign away the sea-bed in their EEZ to mining companies.

"The international experience around shared ocean areas is that the International Seabed Authority has taken a very conservative approach and hasn't permitted companies to undertake these activities in international waters, largely because they saw them as potentially very damaging."

Techa Beaumont