|Title||Sea mining project off Papua New Guinea hits choppy waters|
|Date||2018-03-12 PM 2:45:26||Hit||18|
Despite a funds crunch and legal challenges mounted by coastal communities in Papua New Guinea (PNG), the world’s first deep-sea mining industry will go ahead, assures a spokesperson for Nautilus Minerals, the project developer.
Noreen Dillane, the corporate communications manager at the Canada-registered Nautilus, tells SciDev.Net that the company views the ‘Solwara 1’ project as “ultimately lucrative” because of the rising demand for metals due to the development of electric vehicles and storage batteries.
“Commodity prices are very strong at present, with gold and copper prices currently at four-year highs, cobalt at an all-time high, and zinc at a ten-year high,” says Dillane.
Solwara 1 aims to extract gold and copper deposits beneath the Bismark Sea under permits given by the PNG government, which also owns 15 per cent equity in the project.
There are uncertainties about the tides carrying the sediments onto their shallow waters, affecting fishing, as well as marine life and marine environments.
Arnold Amet, former attorney-general and justice minister, Papua New Guinea
But in December, Nautilus warned the Toronto Stock Exchange that “there can be no assurances that the company will be successful in securing the necessary additional financing transactions within the required time or at all”. The company had fallen short of the target to raise US$41 million for the project by the end of 2017, as well as an additional US$270 million to build and deploy the seafloor production system for the project.
In the same month, on 6 December, local communities launched legal proceedings against the PNG government demanding production of documents relating to the licensing of Nautilus and potential environmental, health and economic impacts from the Solwara 1 deep-sea project.
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