The National, Wednesday, May 4, 2011
By PATRICK TALU
THE Australian Greens leader, Bob Brown, said he will push for an Australian senate inquiry into the impact of the world’s first undersea mining operated by Nautilus Minerals for its Solwara 1 project in the Bismarck Sea.
Brown had just left Port Moresby after attending PNG Greens Party launch in Madang, where he met with Environment Minister Benny Allan and representatives of the PNG Greens party.
Brown told Radio Australia upon his return home early this week that he was worried about the environmental impact of the Solwara 1 gold and copper project on PNG’s north coast, the world’s first deep sea mine.
Brown said the project was using new robot technologies to mine the sea floor.
“This is something that’s going to, if it works there, and Singaporean vessels are currently involved in experimenting with that, extend to oceans elsewhere around the world and of course, the dumping from the process metals there is going to be left on the sea floor as well.
“It’s a very, very worrying direction for mining to be taking,” he said.
The deep sea mining project is set to begin production in 2013 following the official contract signing between the company and the state’s nominee, Petromin Holdings, in March to finalise details to start work.
The project is said to set the benchmark as the world’s first deep sea mining project with capital investment of about US$387 million, which is almost K1 billion in the 20 years of its lifespan.
Nautilus’ exploration results have shown that there are high grade mineralised copper deposits 1,600m below sea level and extending to a maximum depth of 52m below the seafloor.
The exploration and drilling results show that the site is expected to produce around 800,000 tonnes of copper and up to 200,000 ounces of gold a year.
It is speculated that the project begins a new factor in the mining industry with the start of the first deep sea mining project.
Petromin, who owns 30% of the project will be meeting the costs on its own strengths while Nautilus, as the operator will put up 70%.