Monday, 24 December 2012 9:43 AM

Temotu Premier Defends Mining Company

The Premier of Temotu Province says the benefits of a deal to permit a foreign mining company to extract underwater minerals from its waters outweigh the concerns.

The Australian company, Blue Water Metals, has been granted an exploration licence to search for gold in 12 sites near Temotu Province.

The Premier, Father Charles Brown Beu, is downplaying concerns by some locals that mining could inhibit fishing activities and pollute the ocean.

"Yes, we also have the same concerns but we are working with the company and the relevant government ministry to address them," said the Premier.

"We should not worry too much about this because the benefits are there, for example the company is willing to upgrade the hospital and airports."

He says the provincial government is now drawing up an official agreement with Blue Water Metals.

Deep sea mining is a relatively new mineral retrieval process that takes place on the ocean floor. Ocean mining sites are usually around large areas of polymetallic nodules at about 1,400 - 3,700 m below the ocean's surface.

Because deep sea mining is a relatively new field, the complete consequences of full scale mining operations are unknown. However, experts are certain that removal of parts of the sea floor will result in disturbances to marine life causing permanent disturbances.