A former planning minister is calling on the PNG government not to delay the country's first under-sea mining project "unnecessarily", saying it will bring huge benefits to the community
Canada's Nautilus Minerals has a license to mine copper and zinc under the floor of the Bismarck sea, in waters off the provinces of New Britain, New Ireland and Manus. Construction of a seafloor production system remains suspended because of a disagreement with the PNG government, which is yet pay its $US23 million stake in the project.
Paul Tiensten, an MP from East New Britain province, has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program there's no reason for the delay.
"The government has approved it, let's get on with it," he said.
"Get the project up and give Nautilus the right and opportunity to develop the project so that Papua New Guinea islands can address some of its development challenges." Mr Tiensten says his constituents need the money it will generate to pay for roads, wharves, jetties and to boost their local economies.
He's dismissed environmental concerns about the project, saying other mining projects in PNG have had similar concerns and yet received government approval.
"There is [a bigger] upside to this project than issues about the environment," he said.
"I think people are just sensationalising all these environmental problems, because they don't understand how this system works.
"The system is not a new system - the technology has been around...these people have done the due process and for some reason the government is dragging its feet on it."