Nautilus explains damage control

Editorial, Normal

The National, Wednesday 25th January 2012

CANADIAN mining company Nautilus Minerals says the technology it will employ at its deep sea Solwara-1 mining project in Bismarck Sea waters will go a long way towards managing and mitigating adverse impacts on the environment and marine life.
Its vice-president for corporate communications Joe Dowling said in a recent radio interview that the company had been working hard to ensure environmental impacts were carefully managed.
“It’s a closed system that we’ll be using, and the vast majority of fish life that exists in the top layers of the ocean will not be affected in any way.
On the effects on people in the area, Dowling said: “This operation is 50km from Rabaul and 30km away from New Ireland.
“So we are a long way out from shore, we are nowhere near any coral reefs, we are a long way from any fishing ground.
“The area that we’re going to be working in is at a depth of 1,600m.
“All of the marine life that exists at those levels are already heavy in metal content and can’t be eaten.
“People need to just step back and look at the facts here and realise that the way this is being proposed is going to have a minimal impact on people’s ability to eat fish or catch fish.”
No processing would be done at sea.
 “What we are doing is pumping it up from the sea floor to the ship, we are taking the water out of it, and then we are pumping the water back down to the sea floor where we got it from after we’ve cleaned it.
“The material that we have taken the water out of, we’re simply taking to shore. There’s not going to be any processing or release of chemicals into the sea.”
Dowling also rejected criticisms by environmental campaigner, Dr Helen Rosenbaum, who says in her study “Out of Our Depths” that Nautilus’ Environmental Impact Study (EIS) was flawed.
She was concerned that PNG is the first country in the world to undergo deep sea mining, but its impacts on communities are largely unknown.
There was not enough information available to date to understand the risks involved.
Dowling said there had been extensive consultation with the people of New Britain and New Ireland.
The preparation of its EIS which was granted in 2009, followed three years of detailed preparation and extensive involvement of eminent
Its mining lease granted last January had been a result of extensive preparation and consultation.
Documentation had been prepared absolutely in accordance with the requirements of PNG legislation and regulations.
“In fact we’ve gone to great lengths to go beyond those requirements to ensure we create an environment where we can develop a sustainable long-term industry for the people of Papua New Guinea.
“And we’re very grateful for the strong support we’ve been getting from the government and from the vast majority of people in the local community.”
Nautilus Minerals expects to start mining gold and copper deposits at Solwara-1 next year.