Game Over. Canadian Mining Company’s Papua New Guinea Deep Sea Mining Experiment Fails

MiningWatch Canada  | December 11, 2018

Nautilus Minerals’ aspirations to be the world’s first deep
sea mining company sink to the bottom of the ocean on news that
the project support vessel critical to the development of the
company’s deep sea mining project in Papua New Guinea has been
purchased for repurposing by Indian company MDL Energy.

Dr. Helen Rosenbaum of the Deep Sea Mining Campaign said:
“Nautilus’ Production Support Vessel was the centrepiece of
their model of operation. Without the support vessel it’s
difficult to see Nautilus ever developing its Solwara 1 project.
Given Nautilus’ dire financial circumstances it is fair to say
the game is over. There seems little chance of them re-paying their
bridging loans when these become due in less than a month. The
Solwara 1 experiment can be deemed a failure, and the people of
the Bismarck Sea of Papua New Guinea have hopefully been spared an
environmental disaster.”[1]

Dr. Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada stated, “If
Nautilus sinks, the amazing hydrothermal vents targeted for mining
with their unique and diverse life forms will be given a
reprieve, as will the marine ecosystems and fisheries of the
Bismarck Sea. Local communities have been fighting hard to preserve
their way of life and their livelihoods for their children and
children’s children.”

Jonathan Mesulam from the Alliance of Solwara Warriors, added,
“My village is located in New Ireland province, only 25 km from
the proposed Solwara 1 project. It will be good news for my people
if Nautilus goes bankrupt – instead of bankrupting our sea. We
will fight this project to the very end.”

Mesulam continued, “The Alliance of Solwara Warriors launched
a legal case in PNG’s courts over a year ago.[2] We are concerned
that the Papua New Guinean Government has attempted to have our
legal case dismissed. We are now talking to our legal team about
filing substantive court proceedings against Nautilus and the State
to stop the project. One way or another we will chase Nautilus and
Solwara 1 from PNG’s waters!”

Sir Arnold Amet, former Papua New Guinean Attorney General,
declared, “I have been warning our Government publicly and
privately about the financial mess they will find themselves in
when this experimental company fails.[3] The PNG Government
invested heavily to purchase 15% of Nautilus and this will now
translate into 15% of its bankruptcy and any debts the company
owes. Our nation cannot afford this. The Government should now
terminate the contract with Nautilus and cancel all permits for the
Solwara 1 operation.”

[1] Canadian company Nautilus Minerals Inc. has been desperately
seeking funds for its flagship Solwara 1 deep sea mining project.
Commercial operation has been delayed year after year since it
received its licence to mine the floor of the Bismarck sea in
2011. In a last-ditch bid to finance Solwara 1, Nautilus’s two
largest shareholders, Russian mining company Metalloinvest and
Omani conglomerate MB Holdings, have formed a new company whose
sole job is to secure funding for the Solwara 1 project. However,
their attempts have failed. See Nautilus
signs funding mandate with major shareholders
, Nautilus
Minerals press release, 11 October 2017.

[2] Legal
action launched over the Nautilus Solwara 1 Experimental Seabed
, media release, Alliance of Solwara Warriors and Centre
for Environmental Law and Community Rights (CELCoR), 8 December
2017; Troubled
Papua New Guinea deep-sea mine faces environmental challenge
The Guardian, 12 December 2017; World-first
mining case launched in PNG
, Lawyers Weekly, 14 December

[3] Nautilus
Solwara 1 on the verge of bankruptcy as APEC Summit heads to Papua
New Guinea
, media release, 12 November 2018; Former
Attorney General of Papua New Guinea: The writing is on the wall
for Solwara 1 – PNG should withdraw its investment before it’s
too late
, media release, 17 January 2018;;‘Former
PNG AG attacks deep sea mining project
, Radio New Zealand
International, 24 October 2017.

Source: FS – Mining B.
Game Over. Canadian Mining Company’s Papua New Guinea Deep Sea Mining Experiment Fails

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