Deep Sea Mining PNG’s Sensitive Marine Ecosystems

Date: March 6, 2016

Source: Papua New Guinea Mining Watch

Author: Simon Judd – Mineral Policy Institute

The integrity of marine ecosystems all over the world is threatened by human activities such as dumping of rubbish, disposal of chemical and radioactive waste, extraction of oil and gas, and fishing. Mining for sand and minerals in shallow waters has been conducted for decades, but the latest threat to ocean ecosystems comes from mining of the ocean seabed, otherwise known as deep sea mining (DSM) or seabed mining (SBM).

Following the publication of an article by Boschen et al. Seafloor massive sulphide deposits support unique megafaunal assemblages: Implications for seabed mining and conservation in the scientific journal Marine Environmental Research, this article examines some of the implications of DSM for the ecology of the seabed. In the light of imminent DSM, its asks what conservation actions are required to identify significant risks and protect the biodiversity of ocean seafloor ecosystems.The first deep sea mine?

The Solwara 1 project being undertaken by Nautilus Minerals in Papua New Guinea (PNG) is the world’s most developed commercial DSM project. It is located in the Bismarck Sea 30 km offshore of New Britain Island at a depth of 1,600 metres. A mining lease was granted in January 2011 for a gold and copper project. After much delay, the project is scheduled to begin in 2018. If successful, Solwara 1 is likely to be the first of many DSM projects within the Pacific Islands Region.

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First appeared in the Mining Monitor, Vol.6. March 2016.

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