Deep-sea Mining in Papua New Guinea: Policy Frontier
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Ratification of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and its deep-sea mining Implementing Agreement of 1994 form the framework for the International Seabed Authority (ISA) Mining Code. The major repercussion of the UNCLOS/ISA mining policy is that the severity of the regulations caused mining entities to focus their efforts in Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs). Governments of possible sites may or may not have policies addressing deep-sea mining activities. A commercial mining first occurred in 1997 when the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Government granted offshore exploration licenses to Nautilus Minerals Niugini, Ltd. This project utilizes a holistic analysis strategy to examine developing deep-sea mining events in Manus Basin, Papua New Guinea. The many challenges and issues of these events illustrate the complicated link between science and policy. Deep-sea mineral resources have yet to be exploited but doing so could help alleviate humanitarian issues in PNG. Regional legislation for deep-sea mining exists in PNG and is being refined as events progress; however, PNG legislation does not exist for some related issues. In these situations, Nautilus is adopting international standards and/or relevant Australian policies. The people of Papua New Guinea and the southwest Pacific are in a unique position to be proactive, not reactive, about how vent mineral resources will be exploited and avoid risking the treasure of the vents themselves for the sake of the resource treasure.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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