MEDIA RELEASE | Deep Sea Mining Campaign
PORT MORESBY - Former Papua New Guinea attorney-general Sir Arnold Amet has joined the growing opposition to Nautilus Minerals Solwara 1 deep sea mining project in the Bismarck Sea off New Ireland.
“It is understandable that Nautilus shareholders want to protect their own financial interests but new investors should beware, the Solwara 1 project is very high risk,” said Sir Arnold.
“The muddy puddle at the so-called test site at Motukea Island near Port Moresby is not fit for purpose.
“It will not provide any evidence that these machines won’t malfunction at the intended operating depth of 1.6 km. The hulks are already deteriorating in our tropical conditions.”
Canadian company Nautilus is still 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 have now formed a new company whose sole job is to secure funding for the Solwara 1 project.
“Nautilus is not a professional outfit,” Sir Arnold said.
“I am concerned that the Papua New Guinean government has bought a 15% share in a dodgy project.
“Any operating disasters by Nautilus Minerals will quickly translate into an environmental catastrophe for the Bismarck Sea and its communities. The associated financial liabilities will be huge.”
In recent statements the machine operators for the Solwara 1 project voiced fears about the safety of operating the equipment 1.6 km under the surface, 25 km off the coast of New Ireland.
In annual information forms lodged with the Canadian Securities Exchange, Nautilus describes Solwara 1 as an experiment – both the environmental impacts and profits are unknown. Nautilus has declined to conduct a preliminary economic assessment, pre-feasibility study or feasibility study.
“With this high level of environmental and financial risk, the PNG government should never have issued Nautilus with its licence,” Sir Arnold said.
“It was issued even though PNG has no legal framework to regulate such a mine and we have no capacity to monitor its impacts.
“The legal context for the licensing Solwara 1 is highly questionable.”