Watching the guinea pig; Papua New Guinea

The Nautilus Mineral is leading the world in the quest to develop, seafloor mineral deposits. It is developing the world’s first seafloor mining in the Bismarck Sea of Papua New Guinea (PNG). However, there are sensitive emerging issues that need attention before this major mining event could take its full course. The world is watching with curiosity as unfortunately, PNG is going to be the guinea pig.

The main hinted issue here is, “the interface between Seafloor Massive Sulfides (SMS) mining and environmental protection will be particularly challenging for developing countries such as PNG or Tonga and others in the Pacific, because of their limited capacities to undertake appropriate environmental laws to oversee seafloor mining activities effectively.”(Hoagland et al., 2010)

How much awareness on careful thoughts, considerations and communication had been delivered to the public? As far as environmental impacts and livelihood of the coastal PNG population is concerned this seabed mining project is going change everything.

We cannot see much under the sea, but there is sure living creatures whose peaceful habitat is likely to be disturbed by the slightest movement on the seafloor. How about this image?

How much do we know about the nature of this type of mining? Has the government of the day thought of its people and how this project is going to affect the daily lives of its people? Did the Nautilus company highlighted all the pros and cons of its operation? Has it done an honest plan for the next 20 years of its operation within the waters of PNG and in other parts of the Pacific? How much science (marine ecosystems disturbance) is there to be understood to appreciate or not appreciate this kind of development?

Here’s a video that should tell us how much has been said and understood as far as the development is concerned.


Although Nautilus promises to encourage skills and technology transfer in terms of the following;

• Clean mining, low disturbance

• Little disruption of land holders

• Increased safety (compared with onshore operations)

• Royalties and taxes.

Can we safely rely and trust it? How far down the line would we tolerate before our lives are transformed by its influence, whether for good or bad?


Video –


Hoagland, P., Beaulieu, S., Tivey, M. A., Eggert, R. G., German, C., Glowka, L., & Lin, J. (2010). Deep-sea mining of seafloor massive sulfides. Marine Policy, 34(3), 728-732. doi: 10.1016/j.marpol.2009.12.001


2 comments on “Watching the guinea pig; Papua New Guinea

  1. Sounds like another environmental disaster in the making! Its common for large mining companies to turn a blind eye to long term environmental and social impacts. They often play on the false dichotomies of having huge short term economic and social benefit for their activity, with very plausible promises of sustainable practices and local gain.
    However, seafloor mining sounds like raping and will surely have severe impacts, not just on the physical appearance of the seabed but also its functions and services. And testing the new method/technology in a pristine place like PNG is truly dirty tactics. Obviously, as you have stated, the laws to oversee mining activities in the Pacific may be limited and thus easy to manipulate and justify whatever actions they do, which will be harder to do in other areas with better protection status.
    Perhaps start spreading the word about it and get people who have solid information to post on social media, create an awareness and get an international movement going to do something about this before its too late!

  2. Thank you nosy9 for the comment.
    While we are going to be the most affected people should this prestigious development take place, we have the right to protest against it out-rightly. However, the general public lack the understanding of this type of mining – let alone our leaders who bowed down into signing in the Nautilus Mineral Company. As you highlighted and I totally agree, its about time more campaigns and awareness should be the active approach at this point in time before its too late and we regret.
    PNG my home, my pride, I only wish I could do more.

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