Brown calls for seabed mining investigation

Greens leader Bob Brown has called for an investigation into Pacific seabed mining.

“The Australian Greens are calling for scrutiny of what deep seabed mining means for the health of our oceans and our own country’s natural marine resources and fisheries into the future," Brown said.

This statement comes on the back of seabed mining experiments in Papua New Guinea, and Japan changing its resources laws to allow for mining of the seabed.

“Nautilus Minerals, based in Singapore, which has the world’s first seabed mining operation controlled by robots, in the ocean south of New Ireland, plans to extract minerals that are going to make somebody somewhere very wealthy and dump tailings straight into that marine ecosystem. The threats of that form of process are global," Brown said.

However, Joe Mifsud recently commented to Australian Mining that “the facts coming out of that work (in Japan) indicate that subsea mining may be less harmful on the environment than terrestrial mining.

“However, a detailed seabed organism inventory and a map of their extent over several hundred square kilometers is needed to ensure that there is sufficient "organic resource" to avoid any extinctions. Subsea habitats can cover very large areas and may be more resiliant than coral reefs and rainforests, so if it is a choice between clearing rainforest or damaging coral reefs I know what my choice will be.”

Joe Mifsud is an Australian environmental scientist at COOE (Care Of Our Environment) with specialist experience in environmental impact assessment, site remediation, mine rehabilitation and revegetation, submarine tailing disposal, and marine investigations.

Brown will take a motion to the Senate next week which will call on the Government to establish an inquiry, to report by 1 October 2011, into seabed mining to assess the potential impact on the marine environment if seabed mining occurs, and the need for regulation to manage the industry.

It will seek the acknowledgement of the Senate “that full-scale undersea excavation of mineral deposits globally has potential to remove parts of the sea floor and damage the ocean’s health as a result of leakage, spills and damage caused by increased toxicity and sediment from tailings.”

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