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Seabed staked out as mining gets harder

BY ELISABETH BEHRMANN

NAUTILUS MINERALS, a Canadian company planning an underwater mine for copper and gold off the Papua New Guinea coast, said countries will try to stake out the seabed as mineral deposits on land become harder to mine.

“Like anything where there’s a geopolitical uncertainty, people will look to maximise their position,” Tony O’Sullivan, chief operating officer of Toronto-based Nautilus, said in an interview in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.

“New copper projects are becoming more remote, are becoming deeper and are becoming metallurgically more challenging,” O’Sullivan said.

“I don’t think there’s a view that we’re running out of copper or there’s a scarcity but I think there’s a view that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to develop on land.”

The current average grade of copper deposits is 0.6% dropping from about 1% in 1990, compared with 6.5% for Nautilus’ $407 million Solwara project located at a depth of 1.6 kilometres in the Bismarck Sea.

The project, 30% owned by the PNG government, is expected to start at the end of 2013.

Source: Bloomberg

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Arthur Williams

As the company lifts 1.3 million tonnes to the surface, who will monitor what is being done deep down in PNG's territorial waters?

Did the Mining Minister order a submersible for the department or will Naut-to-lus tells us what it is doing?

Can we expect mining wardens to be issued with wet suits?

Will PNG have a team of scientific observers on board the vessels?

Will the Government wait until bad things happen then start moaning?

Despite Minister Potape's dislike of Antelope's plans for so called guinea pig mining in Western Province, he has nothing to say about the company approved for the Solwara 1 Project.

The company appears to have its own doubts about its production plans being the best or most suitable as even now it is planning several technological and logistical improvements for further projects such as:

-- new methods of transhipment;

-- floating concentrators at site, if possible;

-- improving scale/efficiencies in mining methods, and, most worryingly

-- the need for equipment capable of handling rougher ocean conditions (have they already underestimated what the Bismark can throw at you in a north-wester?).

By the time ill effects are felt the company will have moved onto Tonga or some other third world nation's marine waters.

The company should be made to deposit a billion kina somewhere safe to cover any environmental damages onshore or offshore before commencing its trial deep sea mining.

Byron Chan MP for Namatanai in NIP is supposed to become Mining Minister - over to you Byron! Daddy supports you too!

Read: http://eyeonmining.wordpress.com/issues/deep-sea-mining/2008-update-on-nautilus-mining/ for some insights into the project and enjoy reading the biography of one of Naut-to-lus major shareholders -
Alisher Burkhanovich Usmanov in Wikipedia.

Ol man yumi inap long harim ol kain kain gamin bilong ol man i laik painim kapa insait long graun na solwara.

My very recent ancestors died at the hands of greedy mine owners and I have little faith in them or their promises.

Pa mor wyrdd oedd fy cwm, yna!
How green was my valley then!

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