Lessons for PNG on the Precautionary Approach in experimental seabed mining

Papua New Guinea Mine Watch

Rakhyun Kim and Donald Anton | The Australian National University

The New Zealand decision under the EEZ Act teaches a number of lessons for other Pacific Island countries that have growing interests in deep seabed mining as a means of economic development.

Papua New Guinea (PNG), for instance, has garnered attention for issuing a commercial deep seabed mining license to a Canadian company Nautilus Minerals. Nautilus is supposed to begin the world’s first seabed mining operation on the PNG continental shelf in 2016 and, if successful, will prove the technical and economic viability of seabed mining.

Other Pacific Island developing countries are in the process of designing legal regimes to provide a favourable environment for foreign investment and satisfy those environmentally concerned.

The concern is that these early movers are operating on a set of untested assumptions, namely that seabed mining will raise a significant amount of revenue to stimulate national economic development…

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