PNG mining authority fails in bid to stop document release
A Papua New Guinea court has rejected a bid by Mineral Resources Authority to prevent the release of deepsea mining documents.
The Authority had applied for the dismissal of a case to obtain key documents relating to approval of the stalled Solwara1 deepsea mining project.
Landowners from coastal communities around the Bismarck Sea repeatedly requested information about the Solwara project from the government over several years before resorting to legal proceedings.
A lawyer from the Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights, Peter Bosip said it was disappointing that the Authority used taxpayer funds in seeking to have
the case dismissed.
In rejecting the Authority's application, the National Court cited citizens' constitutional right to access public information.
Plaintiffs have urged the Authority to now provide them with full access to project documents.
Earlier this year, the Managing Director of PNG's Mineral Resource Authority, Jerry Garry, said that having invested US$120 million in the project, PNG would probably have to write it off as state debt. He also ruled out any chance of revisiting the Solwara 1 project.
But according to one of the plaintiffs, Jonathan Mesulam from the NGO Alliance of Solwara Warriors, elements in the Authority are still looking to renew the exploration license for Nautilus, the Canada-based company at the head of the project.
"Not only did the MRA spend 2 years trying to block our access to information, but it is also currently undertaking a process to renew the Nautilus Nuigini deep sea exploration licences," he said.
PNG's Prime Minister James Marape has declared the Solwara 1 project in PNG waters to have been a total failure. He has also supported Fiji's call for a Pacific regional moratorium on deep sea mining.