THE Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) has approved in principle the environment permit for Solwara 1 project within the waters of New Britain.
Canada’s Nautilus Mineral Inc said in a statement that DEC Minister Benny Allan signed the “approval in principle”, signalling the completion of DEC’s rigorous internal and independent external reviews of the proposed project.
Steve Rogers, Nautilus’ chief executive officer said: “This is a major milestone for both the Solwara 1 development and the seafloor resource production industry as a whole.
“The approval is testament to the positive environmental and social aspects of seafloor mineral production, as well as to the project design.
“Timing of the approval process has met our expectations to date … we are looking forward to working with the PNG Government to deliver this project.”
Mr Rogers said the next step for Nautilus was to negotiate the development agreement required for the grant of the mining lease and prepare the draft for the environmental management plan.
The Solwara 1 project represented positive step changes in the environmental and social aspects of copper extraction, he said.
With the high copper grades of seafloor massive sulphide (SMS) systems and minimal overburden, very little waste would be produced, he added.
“The proposed extraction area is only 0.11 square kilometres representing a small footprint on the earth’s surface.
Mr Rogers said there would be no displacement of people from the mine site.