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Papua New Guinea Contests Experimental Seabed Mining

Constitutional Right to Key Documents on Experimental Seabed Mining

PAPUA NEW GUINEA | Coastal Communities in Papua New Guinea have formally requested that the PNG Government make public key documents relating to the licensing and the environmental impacts of the Solwara 1 deep sea mining project by October 18 or face the prospect of legal proceedings.

Letters were lodged with the Ministry of Mining and Ministry of Environment and Conservation on September 5, 2017, signed by representatives of four communities across the Bismarck Sea and PNG. The letters note that Section 51 of the PNG Constitution provides the right of reasonable access to official documents for every citizen of Papua New Guinea.

“Very little information about the Solwara 1 project has been disclosed by PNG Government or the project developer, Nautilus Minerals”, stated Peter Bosip, Executive Director, Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCoR).

“Papua New Guineans have the constitutional right to see this information especially as their Government has invested heavily as a shareholder in this project [1]. In the interest of transparency and informed debate, PNG Government should release the information requested,” added Mr Bosip.

Lucielle Paru, Central Province Pressure Group said, “There is a high level of community concern across PNG about experimental seabed mining. This is the world’s first venture. As a national issue, there should be an equally high level of transparency from both the PNG government and Nautilus Minerals.”

According to Jonathan Mesulam from the West Coast of New Ireland Province, civil society in Papua New Guinea has been requesting this information for many years [2], “Why is the Government keeping secrets from its people? Communities on the west coast of New Ireland Province live only 25km from the proposed location in the Bismarck Sea. We are on the front line of Solwara 1 mine and if it goes ahead it will impact our lives and livelihoods [3]."

"We will exercise our legal rights to be fully informed. We have the right to know the whole truth about Solwara 1. The Government must release the documents we have requested”

Pastor Matei Ibak, Karkar Island Community in Madang said, “Nautilus and PNG Government do not have the consent of local communities to go ahead with this mining experiment [4]."

"Our people chased Nautilus away from our waters, now the people of New Ireland and East New Britain face pollution in their traditional waters if Solwara 1 goes ahead. Instead of protecting Papua New Guineans the Government is protecting the interest of the company.”

“We are giving the Government of PNG until October 18 to provide the licensing and environmental impact documents, or legal proceedings will be filed against the Government,” continued Mr Mesulam.

For more information:

Peter Bosip, Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCoR), +675 3234509

Jonathan Mesulam, West Coast Central People of New Ireland, +675 70038933

Lucielle Paru, Central Province Pressure Group, NCD and Central Province, +675 70858690


[1] Nautilus Minerals Inc.: PNG Government Confirms Investment in Solwara 1, MarketWired, March 29, 2011,

[2] For example, in 2012 the Deep Sea Mining campaign and Mas Kagin Tapani sent a letter to PNG PM Peter O’Neill requesting the release of key documents relating to the Solwara 1 seabed mining project. No response was received and those documents are still not in the public domain,

[3] Reports produced by the Deep Sea Mining campaign highlighting the economic, social and environmental concerns of Nautilus Minerals Solwara 1 deep sea mining project:

• ‘Accountability Zero: A Critique of Nautilus Minerals Environmental and Social Benchmarking Analysis of the Solwara 1 project’, September 2015,

• ‘Physical Oceanographic Assessment of the Nautilus Environmental Impact Statement for the Solwara 1 Project – An Independent Review’, November 2012,

• ‘Out of our Depth: Mining the Ocean Floor in Papua New Guinea’, November 2011

[4] Landowners remain unimpressed with Nautilus, Loop PNG News, 1 October,2017,


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