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Experimental Deep Sea Mining in the Pacific – A Papua New Guinea Experience

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Experimental Deep Sea Mining in the Pacific – A Papua New Guinea Experience


Papua New Guinea (PNG) granted the world’s first deep-sea commercial mining permit in 2011 to Nautilus Minerals Ltd, a Canadian company formerly listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).


With experimental plans of exploration, the Solwara 1 project was expected to commence the world’s first deep-sea mining (DSM) project in 2018.


With investor interests in the Solwara 1 Project, the PNG government was so enthusiastic that it opted to have a 30% stake in the project.


It granted DSM licenses to Nautilus Inc. under terrestrial land mining laws but failed to consult the people. The Solwara 1 project struggled to maintain investor confidence and interest, along with that of the PNG government.


Communities from the Bismarck Sea were at the forefront of resistance against this new experimental form of seabed mining. The Solwara 1 project also came under fire from scientists, academics, parliamentarians, and churches in support of community concerns, calling for a ban on DSM in PNG’s territorial waters.


This call was widely supported across the Pacific with a petition presented at the 2012 Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting.


In 2019, the experimental Solwara 1 project sank with Nautilus Minerals announcing bankruptcy, leaving the PNG government at a loss of AUD $153 million. Key investors and industry players from the bankrupt Nautilus Inc. then went on to form DeepGreen Metals, another Canadian setup that acquired what was left of Nautilus Minerals in the Pacific.


This panel discussion represents frontline advocates against DSM, and their regional partners. Drawing from the history of deep sea mining issues in Papua New Guinea, they share lessons for the rest of the Pacific.


Webinar moderator :


Frances Namoumou


Webinar speakers :


Jonathan Mesulam

Prof. Chapalan Kal

Cardinal Sir John Ribat

Christina Tony

Rev. Dr Jack Urame


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