Coastal communities across the Bismarck Sea under the umbrella of the Alliance of Solwara Warriors claim that Nautilus and the PNG Government do not have their consent to go ahead with experimental seabed mining in the Bismarck Sea.
"Who are these leaders from New Ireland Province that Nautilus has handpicked?" said Jonathan Mesulam of the Alliance of Solwara Warriors.
“I am from the West Coast of New Ireland Province and I hear my people's concerns. Landowners on the west coast of New Ireland Province live only 25km from the Solwara 1 seabed mining site.
“In June this year, more than 300 hundred people attended forums held in Namatanai and Kokopo hosted by Caritas Kavieng and the Archbishop of Rabaul. Papua New Guineans are worried about the impacts of this Canadian company's experiment,” claims Mesulam.
"There are too many unknowns and challenges in operating this equipment in our precious oceans. These are giant instruments of torture for our marine environment that is already stressed by pollution, overfishing and rising sea levels. Why is our Government burdening our island and coastal communities with extra problems?"
Lucielle Paru of the Central Province Pressure Group said: “My community lives near the testing site at Motukea Island. We do not support the development of this equipment.
“The dockyard on Motukea Island is nothing like the conditions on the sea floor where the mining tools will be used. These trials will not provide any evidence that the equipment is safe to use.
“Did the Government do any due diligence checks before it used the money of Papua New Guineans to purchase a 15 percent share in such a high-risk project?
"It is foreign to Melanesian culture to become so excited about giant machinery. Our traditions protect community and nature.
“This foreign company is pushing their values for their own financial gain at the expense of our people. Once they try out their destructive equipment in the Bismarck Sea, they plan to take it to mine all around the PNG coastline. No one living next to the sea will be safe."
Dr. Helen Rosenbaum of the Deep Sea Mining Campaign said: "Nautilus is showing off its equipment to a small select group of people from New Ireland and East New Britain to try and buy support for Solwara 1. They know local communities strongly oppose this project.
“Nautilus is also desperately trying to convince investors that they are making progress. The company is struggling financially because Solwara 1 is very risky economically as well as environmentally.
“This level of risk has scared off responsible investors who refuse to gamble with people's lives and futures.”
Meanwhile, Nautilus Minerals recently stated that Solwara 1 Deep Sea Mine will have zero impact on marine life and coastal communities in New Ireland Province.
Nautilus said the technology employed for the project did not require explosives or chemicals and are confident there will not be any environmental impact.
Several local and provincial leaders from New Ireland Province arrived in Port Moresby on Monday to see firsthand the seafloor production tools being tested at Motukea Island outside the capital city.
(Seabed Mining Forum, Namatanai, New Ireland Province, PNG, June 8th 2017)