NZ seafood companies, iwi slam EPA over seabed mining application

Undercurrent News | May 16, 2017

Seafood companies have slammed the New Zealand Environmental Protection Authority’s (EPA) handling of the application to mine for 35 years 50 million metric tons of iron sand from the ocean floor off the coast of Taranaki.

The application by Trans-Tasman Resources (TTR) is opposed by Fisheries Inshore New Zealand, the New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen, Talley’s Group, Southern Inshore Fisheries Management, and Cloudy Bay Clams.

A range of environmental groups have also submitted opposition to the bid.

TTR’s first application was refused in June 2014 after a decision-making committee appointed by the EPA found the application was premature and more time should have been taken to understand the proposed operation, its effects on the receiving environment and existing interests.

“TTR’s latest application is almost identical to the first, and does not address the EPA’s key reasons for refusing TTR consent in 2014,” Fisheries Inshore New Zealand’s chief executive, Jeremy Helson, said.

“TTR‘s 2014 application was refused due to inadequate information, and adverse effects on the environment and existing economic activity. It is hard to understand why the EPA allowed TTR to resubmit a largely unchanged application,” Helson added.

TTR’s latest application, lodged with the EPA in August 2016, has been dogged with controversy from the start, as the TTR sought to withhold information on the effects of the sediment plume from the public for reasons of commercial sensitivity, said the release.

The EPA’s decision to approve this withholding of information was overturned by the Environment Court, on the application of the seafood industry, iwi and environmental groups.

TTR has a responsibility to provide robust information to support its application. Its  failure to do so has seen the EPA directing those opposing the application to fill in the gaps, said the complainants.

“The extension of the process and continued re-submission of evidence has resulted in submitters incurring unreasonable costs to address the deficiencies in TTR’s application.”

The hearing began in February and was initially to have ended on April 12. Instead the EPA extended the hearing to May 31 to address further questions concerning the information provided by TTR in support of its application.

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Company confident experimental PNG seabed mining project on track

Nautilus CEO falsely claims communities have given their free prior informed consent to experimental seabed mining – a COMPLETE LIE. 

He also fails to mention the company doesn’t yet have the funds to start mining!

Radio New Zealand | 15 May  2017

A Canadian mining company says it is confident that a controversial seabed mine will be operational off Papua New Guinea in 2019, as planned.

There have been ongoing concerns about what the impact the Solwara 1 project off the coast of New Ireland Province will have on the environment and local communities.

Nautilus Minerals was granted an environmental permit in 2009 to develop the mine, but it is still yet to be built.

Nautilus chief executive Michael Johnston said the company has conducted robust consultations with a range of groups about the impact of the mine, and he says these had been factored into their planning process.

He said the company had run various hearings and workshops in New Ireland, Kokopo, Rabaul and Port Moresby and any issues that were raised at the meetings were recorded and, where appropriate, were attached as conditions to the company’s licences.

“I know NGOs around countries like Australia and New Zealand jump up and down about free and prior informed consent, but you actually have a system in PNG where it’s actually obtained.”

There had been concerns raised about the process mixing the water column and the potential for it to cause plumes, but Mr Johnston said that the mining process had bee designed so that this wouldn’t be an issue.

“We designed our system taking that on board and have a system where we take the water up on to the vessel, separate the ore-bearing material. It then goes through a de-watering plant which is basically a series of screens, cyclones and eventually filters to remove the ore material and we filter it to 8 microns and then the filtered water is then returned in pipes.”

He said that the technology the company would use, was not new, and been used the the oil and gas industry for years.

“Deep water is anything over about 2000-25000 m. The machines that we are deploying are basically a modification of oil and gas of an oil and gas trenching machine.”

The company is confident the project will be on track to start extracting ore in the first quarter of 2019, he said.

“So that’s the budgeted first ore date and we’re tracking to that schedule at the moment so I don’t see any reason why it won’t achieve it.”

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BCL Working Closely With ABG

Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) Has Been Engaged In Planning And Implementing Agreed-Upon Activities In Bougainville Since 2012, BCL Chairman Rob Burns Said This Week.

Post Courier | May 12, 2017

Bougainville Copper Limited (BCL) has been engaged in planning and implementing agreed-upon activities in Bougainville since 2012, BCL chairman Rob Burns said this week.

Mr Burns said in a statement this had been at the invitation of the Autonomous Bougainville Government and the nine landowner associations involved in discussions on the future of the Panguna resource.

“BCL meets routinely with the ABG and the landowning associations to review these plans and agree on further activities,” he said.

He reiterated his statement at the recent annual general meeting on April 27, outlining some of the progress regarding the Panguna project that had been achieved with the support of Panguna landowners and other stakeholders.

Mr Burns said this in relation to an article in Post-Courier on May 3 in which a landowner group claimed that BCL wanted to get easy access to the Panguna mine.

“BCL is now a predominately locally owned company with landowners at the core of its operations,” he said, adding that the Panguna project had the support of Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and Bougainville president John Momis.

Mr Burns noted that one interest group from the Panguna area recently petitioned the ABG to cancel BCL’s exploration rights.

“This group purports to represent all Panguna landowners, and questions the ABG and national government support for BCL.

“As noted by president Momis in his interview with Radio New Zealand last week, the group has a separate commitment to an Australian resource company, which is in pursuit of mineral rights at Panguna, of which BCL has been granted tenure.”

Much of the public discourse in the media regarding resource development at Panguna must be viewed in terms of competing commercial interest in Panguna’s mineral rights.

He said that differing views on the future of the Panguna project, especially from the customary landowners, should be respected.

However, when those views do not reflect the broad support from landowners, these views are being driven by personal ambition at the expense of customary landowners and the economic security of Bougainville.

“There is still much work to do to strengthen alignment between stakeholders on the range of issues affecting project progress.

“BCL will continue to engage with the landowning groups at Panguna who have continuously provided support in finding a pathway through the many issues that confront us  all.”

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Nautilus still short of funds to start experimental seabed mining

Nautilus Minerals still does not have enough money to start its seabed mining experiment in Papua New Guinea – despite receiving $113 million from PNG taxpayers!

Nautilus Minerals Announces Financial Results for Q1 2017

Junior Mining Network | 10 May 2017

Nautilus Minerals Inc. announces the release of its unaudited consolidated Financial Statements for the first quarter ended March 31, 2017, together with Management’s Discussion and Analysis.

2017 Significant Events to date

  • Received US$4 million through the US$20 million bridge financing facility provided by the Company’s two largest shareholders.
  • Announced the arrival of the Seafloor Production Tools (SPTs) in PNG.
  • Announced the arrival of the LARS and ancillary equipment to the Mawei shipyard in China.
  • US$19.5 million in cash and cash equivalents as at March 31, 2017.

Mike Johnston, Nautilus’ CEO, commented, “It was very pleasing to see the SPTs arrive in PNG where they will undergo submerged trials in the coming months. We now remain focused on the build of the Production Support Vessel and the integration of the rest of the equipment on it. Subject to further financing, we remain on schedule to develop the world’s first commercial high grade seafloor copper-gold mine at the Solwara 1 project site in Q1 2019*.”

*subject to further financing

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Bishop Bernard Unabali Condemns Bougainville Mining Rush

Bernard Unabali | 9 May 2017

Today I was invited to attend the ABG “launching of [the] mining Industry”, [which heralds the] formal opening up for exploration licenses, and application, on this formerly “closed up” issue.

So now Isina in Kongara II Jaba tailing area, and Mt Tore in Tinputz can be formerly accepted in their application for exploration licenses.

Reasons [highlighted by the ABG]:

  • Progress
  • Independence
  • Church support
  • Monetary self-reliance
  • Spin off [benefits]
  • New people based mining; and
  • A system fed up with Panguna alone

Only [as] a footnote [was] responsibility for environment damages mentioned. No one starkly mentioned that in reality Laluai, Eorun, Rawa, Wakunai, Aita, Raruma, and many other rivers will be gone especially if [an] incapacitated ABG and Mining Department pretend to safeguard us from highly experienced foreign evaders of truth, and of whom some are just serial environmental rapists.

We must accept that intending the good [of mining], we have also celebrated our future social, physical and even spiritual graveyard !! The church fought [against] a unjust, wrong, foreigner, CRA, in the past. I hope sadly the church will not [have to now] fight the wrong guys in our own people evading law and truth for the sake of money, with pretentious leaders of ‘landowner groups’, if [these] licenses evolve into actual mining [leases] later?

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Solomons landowners discuss concerns on reopening gold mine

The over-full tailings dam facility at the Gold Ridge Gold Mine on Guadalcanal in Solomon Islands in January 2015. Photo: copyright Dr Matthew Allen – ANU

Landowners on Guadalcanal in Solomon Islands have been consulted about the proposed reopening of the Gold Ridge gold mine.

The mine was closed in 2014 after massive floods and its ownership was then transferred from the Australian owner St Barbara to a local land-owning company Guadalcanal Community Investments Ltd.

Guadalcanal Community Investments Ltd is now working with Chinese-owned Australian property developer AXF Group which plans to have the mine operational by the end of 2018.

Bringing the gold mine back to life is also a major policy objective of the government which says it wants to do it right.

Members of landowning communities discussed a range of issues with government officials and company representatives relating to royalties, security, environmental impact, revenue sharing and the relocation of people.

They were assured by both the government and the company that their concerns would be taken onboard and addressed to ensure a smooth reopening.

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Resource-Hungry India to Invest $1.5 Bln in Seabed Mining

© AFP 2017/ ARUN SANKAR

India is set to step up efforts to harness mineral wealth from the seabed of the Indian Ocean with the government soon to launch a $1.5-billion deep ocean mission. The proposed mission aims to rein in energy, food, medicine and other natural resources that surround the Indian peninsula.

Sputnik | 9 May 2017

The major components of the project have been said to be deep ocean energy, desalination plant along the Chennai coast, deep sea science and fisheries, minerals and polymetallic nodules.

India needs vital minerals such as copper, cobalt, nickel and manganese for future generation manufacturing including the production of hybrid cars, and smartphones. Currently, China has a monopoly over such minerals. Indian scientists estimate 380 million tons of polymetallic nodules in the retained Indian Pioneer area.

India’s National Institute of Ocean Technology has been working on a mining concept where a crawler-based mining machine collects, crushes and pumps nodules to the mother ship using a positive displacement pump through a flexible riser system. 

“A deep-sea research center is coming up. We are going to launch an inter-disciplinary and inter-ministerial Deep Ocean Mission. The Ministry of Earth Sciences is preparing a proposal that will be put before the Cabinet for approval,” Madhavan Nair Rajeevan, Secretary of India’s Ministry of Earth Sciences, said.

Last year, India signed a 15-year contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for exploration of Poly-Metallic Sulphides in the Indian Ocean. It is expected that basic exploration activities would require no more than $100 million.

India has a 7,500-km coastline and 2.4 million square kilometers of Exclusive Economic Zone.

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