Papua New Guinea has approved a deep sea mineral mine causing scientists and indigenous people to react with alarm. The new mine is to be run by a Canadian company called Nautilus Minerals. The approval was licensed by the prime minster of Papua New Guinea, Mr Michael Somare today.
The site for the mine will be the Manus Basin in Paupua New Guinea territorial waters. It will produce ore that contains copper, zinc and gold from hydrothermal vents about 1,600 meters below the surface.
The scale of the mining is causing concern amongst the scientists. Paul Tyler from the University of Southampton and the chair of the Census of Marine Life said that hydrothermal vents have very distinct fauna and mining so close to the vents would wipe out this fauna or at least cause a large amount of damage in the surrounding area.
Other experts argue that the effects of mining under water near the hydrothermal vents are not quite as disastrous as mountain top mining on land. Citing that the environment at the site is unpredictable and does blow up on its own only to be recolonized.
The government has also been petitioned by the indigenous communities of Papua New Guinea to prevent the mining, however it is unlikely that these concerns will stop the project.