Nautilus Minerals keeps PNG deep sea mining licence despite delisting

Nick Fogarty | ABC Pacific Beat | 3 April 2019

The government of Papua New Guinea says it has no plans to revoke the licence of Nautilus Minerals after it was announced the company will be delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange.

The embattled Canadian mining company was due to be removed from the TSX at the close of trading on Wednesday 3rd April (local time) after failing to meet the Exchange’s listing requirements.

The delisting follows a sustained period of financial trouble for Nautilus, which had plans for what would have been the world’s first sea bed mining project, the Solwara 1 in PNG’s waters between the islands of New Ireland and New Britain.

Papua New Guinea has a 15 per cent equity stake in the Solwara 1 project.

PNG’s Minister for Mining, Johnson Tuke, said the government and the Mineral Resources Authority won’t be revoking Nautilus’ mining licence, as they haven’t breached its conditions.

“The government has a certain percentage in the mine and the operation at New Ireland,” he told Pacific Beat. “But they’ve complied with the conditions of the licence.

“If they look for alternatives to come and revive the company, the operation, then they will do so at their own expense.”

Mr Tuke said the government would potentially be seeking financial compensation at a later date, but they’re not currently exploring that option.

Landowners and local and international anti-mining groups have been vocal in their opposition to the Solwara 1 project.

Jonathan Mesulam from the Alliance of Solwara Warriors said the delisting showed that shareholders and investors didn’t have confidence in Nautilus.

He urged PNG’s political leaders to sit up and take notice.

“We are calling on … the national government to remove the licence from Nautilus Minerals and not to give any more licences to any other companies that are trying to come and do mining around the ocean, around the Bismarck, in PNG, and also the Pacific as well,” he told Pacific Beat.

Nautilus Minerals told Pacific Beat they’re unable to comment due to its ongoing Sale and Investment Solicitation Plan (SISP).

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Filed under Mine construction, Papua New Guinea

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