World-first mining case launched in PNG – by Tom Lodewyke (Lawyers Weekly – December 14, 2017)

Citizens of Papua New Guinea have launched landmark legal proceedings against the country’s government over a deep seabed mining project.

Coastal communities in Papua New Guinea (PNG) recently commenced proceedings against the PNG government over the Solwara 1 project, the world’s first deep seabed mine.

The Centre for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCOR) in Port Moresby is representing four community plaintiffs. They are seeking information on the legality of the mine’s approval, as well as the likely environmental, social, cultural and economic impacts.

The Environmental Defenders Office (EDO) NSW, a partner of CELCOR, said in a statement that these are “landmark proceedings”. It is the first case relating to the world’s first commercial deep seabed mine, and one of the first public interest access to information cases brought under the PNG constitution, as PNG does not have freedom of information laws.

The EDO said community representatives in PNG have been requesting information on the mine, including the environmental permit, for years without success.

“[T]his is a historic case, not just for Papua New Guinea but globally, as communities try to understand the legality and potential impacts of the world’s first commercial deep seabed mine,” said BJ Kim, international program manager at EDO NSW.

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