Yesterday it was revealed Nautilus Minerals has not conducted a feasibility study for its controversial Solwara experimental seabed mine and, as a result, does not know if the proposed mine is economically or technical viable. It also does not have enough money to take the mine into production.
Company documents also reveal that despite their denials and assurances, Nautilus is fully aware there are serious environmental risks associated with the proposed mining, and “the actual impact of any SMS mining operations on the environment has yet to be determined”.
Yup, Nautilus has admitted the environmental impacts are still to be determined!
You have to dig deep though to find the admission – right down to page 61 of the company’s Annual Information Form [pdf 1.2MB] released in March and available on the company website.
The document also contains some other interesting revelations the company seems rather shy of talking about, for example:
Disturbing the seafloor may cause issues with visibility that could interfere with operations. … (at p52)
Hmmm, don’t think CEO Mike Johnston has made much mention of that!
And even though Nautilus is here admitting that churning up the seafloor in an open cut mining operation using 100 tonne mining machines, may affect visibility in the ocean and cause possible damage to equipment or interrupt the mining operations, nowhere has it addressed the possible environmental impacts of such a scenario or the impacts on local people who depend on the sea!
According to Nautilus there are also significant risks from local volcanic and seismic activity (which is prevalent in the area) and weather and ocean conditions:
Tenements are located in an active tectonic and volcanic setting and volcanic activity, including earthquakes, could hinder operations or damage or destroy equipment and there is a risk that volcanic activity could result in volcanic material, such as lava, covering any SMS deposit found, rendering it uneconomic.” (at p52)
“Weather, volcanic eruptions, storms, cyclones, tsunamis and sea conditions may also damage or destroy equipment, or contribute to injury or loss of life (at p 60)
Again, this is not something Nautilus has been talking about publicly and still nowhere does it mention the possible environmental impacts from a mining operation damaged or destroyed by volcanoes, earthquakes, storms or cyclones or the potential impacts on the lives and livelihoods of local people…