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No To Deep Sea Mining

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The government has been urged to ban deep sea mining in Vanuatu.

Peak bodies representing the civil society in Vanuatu, have reiterated their call to the government to ban seabed mining through a petition yesterday.

The petition was presented by the President of the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs (MNCC), Chief Willie Gray Plasua, to the Commissioner of Mines, Camillia Garae.
This latest call came during the final consultation meeting of the draft National Mines and Minerals Policy convened by the Geology and Mines Unit of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources at the Chiefs Nakamal in Port Vila.

The petition was presented to Garae at the conclusion of the meeting.

Chairman of the Vanuatu Association of Non-Government Organisations (VANGO), William Nasak, and representatives of the Vanuatu Christian Council (VCC), Vanuatu National Youth Council (VNYC) and all peak bodies representing national civil society witnessed the petition presentation.

The petition noted that in 2014, when the government undertook its first national consultation on seabed mining, it found that people wanted the government to adopt a precautionary approach and did not want seabed mining to happen in Vanuatu. 

 In 2017, the petition further noted, the Vanuatu National CSO Resolution on Sea Bed Mining, signed by MNCC, VCC, VNCW, VNYC, VANGO, Media Association of Vanuatu (MAV), Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu (PCV) and other organizations.

They called on the government to ban all seabed mining activities now and including the future granting of titles permitting exploration for minerals or mining and the issuing of authorizations permitting seabed mining activities. Earlier this year, the same organizations along with many other Vanuatu NGO’s signed the regional “Pacific Blue Line” petition, which stated that “we call for a total ban on DSM within our territorial waters and in areas beyond national jurisdiction”.

The document known as Mines and Minerals Policy of Vanuatu, the draft for discussion which the Government is currently consulting on, includes a section on Deep Sea Mining. 

The petition presented yesterday reiterated that the people of Vanuatu do not want seabed mining to happen any time now or in the future. 

 The government is petitioned to make this position clear in the final Mines and Minerals Policy, which should categorically state that seabed mining is completely banned in Vanuatu.

Garae said the current consultation aimed to address loopholes in the current mining act which was first introduced in 1986 and only covers licensing, prospecting and exploration licenses, procedures and the royalty payment.

"Nothing else is captured within the current mining act such as there is no mention of environment, protection and fiscal regime on how the country can get revenue out of the mining activities", she said.

She said some mining licenses were granted before the independence of Vanuatu in 1980.

Garae said currently there are 150 deep sea mining granted by Vanuatu government
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