TORONTO – Nautilus Minerals has finally reached a major milestone in its quest to become the world’s first commercial deep sea mining company. On Friday, Sept. 25, the first steel was cut, marking the beginning on construction of the support vessel for the operation.
Nautilus has been exploring the floor of the Bismarck Sea off Papua New Guinea for at least 20 years. It is seeking economic deposits of copper-gold and other mineralization as it is created on the ocean bottom. The project has not been without its challenges – licensing, technical, governmental and funding.
Mike Johnston, Nautilus’ CEO, commented, “I am delighted that steel cutting has happened on schedule and in line with our plan to commence testing and initial production activities at Solwara 1. Our objective remains to develop the world’s first commercial high grade seafloor copper-gold project and launch the deep water seafloor resource production industry. With the eyes of the world waiting to see the dawn of this new industry, we look forward to taking delivery of the vessel in December 2017 to enable us to commence our seafloor operations in Q1 2018.”
An animation of how the seafloor production system works can be viewed on the Company’s website: NautilusMinerals.com/irm/content/video-gallery.aspx?RID=421
As the Solwara 1 project is about to become a reality, it is attracting opposition from environmental groups. The Deep Sea Mining Campaign insists there are flaws in the environmental impact assessment commissioned by Nautilus. The group said that potential impacts were extrapolated from land based copper operations, and they do not take into account the deep sea and marine environments.
The challenge comes as New Zealand announced it will create a large South Pacific sanctuary where both fishing and mining are banned.