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Brown calls for scrutiny of deep seabed mining

Deep seabed mining threatens our oceans and the marine environment of our neighbours, particularly Papua New Guinea where seabed mining experiments are going unchecked, Australian Greens Leader Bob Brown said today.

"The Australian Greens are calling for scrutiny of what deep seabed mining means for the health of our oceans and our own country's natural marine resources and fisheries into the future," Senator Brown said in Hobart after ABC TV's Catalyst program examined deep seabed mining.

"On a recent visit to Papua New Guinea, the Chairman of the Bismarck Solomon Seas Indigenous People's Council and Vice-Chairman of the Madang Indigenous People's Forum, John Simoi, raised concerns about the rapid approval of the Solwara I project in the Bismarck Sea and the lack of adequate safeguards," Senator Brown said.

"Our government has given the go ahead for Nautilus to use us as guinea pigs, to experiment," Mr Simoi said.

"Nautilus Minerals, based in Singapore, which has the world's first seabed mining operation controlled by robots, in the ocean south of New Ireland, plans to extract minerals that are going to make somebody somewhere very wealthy and dump tailings straight into that marine ecosystem. The threats of that form of process are global," Senator Brown said.

The Senate is scheduled to vote next week on Senator Brown's motion:

That the Senate -

(a) recognises that the Solwara 1 Project in the Bismarck Sea off Papua New Guinea plans to mine copper and gold at a depth of 1 600 metres and is the world's first deep seabed mining project;

(b) acknowledges that full-scale undersea excavation of mineral deposits globally has potential to remove parts of the sea floor and damage the ocean's health as a result of leakage, spills and damage caused by increased toxicity and sediment from tailings; and

(c) calls on the Government to establish an inquiry, to report by 1 October 2011, into seabed mining to assess:

(i) the level of interest in seabed mining in Australian waters and in waters in the region neighbouring Australia,

(ii) the potential impact on the marine environment and resources if this industry develops, and

(iii) the need for regulation or a regional agreement to manage and reduce the potential for this industry to impact on marine productivity.



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