Nautilus Minerals PNG country manager Mel Togolo says the company’s first experimental seabed mining project at Solwara 1, in the Bismarck Sea of PNG, will have minimal impact on the environment, reports The National.
Togolo said it was now “all systems go” with Nautilus having acquired all of its required permits including environmental permit in 2009, and mining lease granted in January last year for a deposit covering 59sqkm, and production set to begin next year.
Togolo told a mining and petroleum workshop for PNG media last Friday that Nautilus had a “very strong story” on environmental and social matters at Solwara 1, where it would be mining for gold and copper,
“Firstly, you need to recognise that at Solwara 1, the natural environment at depth is naturally turbid because we have black smokers emitting plumes into the water,” he said,
“A few kilometres away, we have an active sub-sea volcano which is putting large quantities of plumes into the water column.
“Our operations will therefore have minimal impact on this natural environment.
“We’re not dealing with pristine clear waters here.
“You also need to note that this is very high grade material.
“That high grade also means that we can be quite surgical in the way we develop these deposits, so that the environmental impacts are minimal.
“At our first project, at Solwara 1, we will be mining a total surface area of about 0.11 square kilometres.”
Togolo said land-based mines, working at lower grades, typically had to move large amounts of material to make the economics work.
“These deposits sit essentially exposed on the sea floor,” he said.
“There is no stripping and therefore no waste.
“We will not be processing any of the material at the site, so there are no tailings.
“We have designed our processes so all of the impacts are close to the seafloor.
“We have no emissions in the top level of the water column which harbours most of the fish life.
“We operate 30km from land, so we have no direct landowner interests.
“And we are working constantly with local communities and the scientific community to ensure that we are doing this in a very responsible way.
“After all, we are building an operation that we expect will be producing for 20 years or more.”