By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Scientists and environmentalists have warned of a massive ecological disaster resulting from the proposed deep-sea mining in Nauru, where the Nauru Ocean Resources, a subsidiary of the Canadian firm The Metals Company, wants to mine the nodule-rich region.
The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) received over 600 comments across a range of critical issues. Government and non-government organizations declared sub-standard and not fit for purpose as a risk management tool.
Critics, however, slammed the company for ignoring the concerns raised by different groups and individuals.
According to Dr. Catherine Coumans, of MiningWatch Canada, the EIS was supposedly revised to address significant concerns. However, she said the document was made available only one working day ahead of the consultation session held Monday.
"This made it impossible to assess the extent to which its 770 pages actually rectify the deficiencies of the previous draft. The fact that the EIS had to be expanded by 220 pages in response to stakeholder submissions points to TMC's unprofessional approach," Coumans said. Maureen Penjueli of the Pacific Blue Line Campaign said, “The ridiculously short timeframe provided for stakeholders to digest the revised EIS, indicates that TMC and the government of Nauru are not seeking meaningful engagement. Perhaps the International Seabed Authority (ISA) has already approved this EIS, given it was submitted to them last October? In addition, the virtual format for the consultation webinar was extremely limited, confirming the impression that it was nothing more than a box-ticking exercise. “ Penjueli also questioned whether national consultations have been held in Nauru and whether the revised EIS has been presented to the citizens of Nauru.
Dr. Helen Rosenbaum said, “The lack of meaningful participation and transparency is consistent with TMC’s, and apparently the ISA’s agenda: to pilot deep-sea mining instead of conducting the research needed to understand the wide range of impacts of commercial mining. This ignores the precautionary approach recommended by the global community including over 700 scientists; national government and non-government members of the IUCN; financial institutions, global businesses, international fisheries bodies, and civil society.“
Rosenbaum noted that scientists have recommended coordinated independent research for at least another seven years prior to test-mining.
"TMC, the Republic of Nauru and the ISA are being reckless – presumably driven by TMC’s dismal share prices," she said.