Tag Archives: Alliance of Solwara Warriors

Nautilus Minerals: still lost at sea with no life raft in sight

Deep Sea Mining Campaign | 25 November 2019

On 21st November, Nautilus Mineral’s court-appointed monitors, Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) confirmed that the relevant legal papers had been filed to assign Nautilus Minerals Inc. into bankruptcy. Whilst this news was expected, there has been no news on their plans for the Solwara 1 deep sea mining project in Papua New Guinea, leaving local communities and civil society who are opposed to the project with many questions.

Nautilus filed for protection from its debts in a Canadian Court in February 2019. The company tried to restructure but it failed to find any buyers for its assets. In August 2019, court approval was obtained for creditors to liquidate the company in order to get back a fraction of what they were owed.

Andy Whitmore of the Deep Sea Mining Campaign stated, “This should be the end of the story, but sadly the liquidation was enacted to give birth to a new, smaller Nautilus.”

“The two main shareholders – MB Holding and Metalloinvest – have effectively taken control of this ‘new’ Nautilus at the expense of major creditors and hundreds of small shareholders. Despite filing an appeal in the Canadian Court, through its company Eda Kopa, the PNG Government remains the biggest loser from the deal holding 15% equity in Nautilus PNG and the Solwara 1 project, effectively losing $US125m.”

“Nautilus gave the impression that the new company was ready to roll. But it has been over a month since the confirmation and there’s been no other information on what Nautilus’ new plans will be.”

“Nautilus stated in court papers that, once liquidation occurs, there may still be a buyer for at least some of the new company’s assets. Does this mean the major shareholders will sell their licences and machinery to make a quick profit and run?” questioned Mr Whitmore.

Local communities opposed to Nautilus’ Solwara 1 project in their seas are still steadfastly opposed to the project, and there are still legal cases in the PNG court system.

Jonathan Mesulam from the Alliance of Solwara Warriors has recently returned to PNG from meetings in Canada where he represented the fierce opposition of PNG coastal communities against experimental seabed mining.

Mr Mesulam stated, “It’s unbelievable for Nautilus to still consider mining the Solwara 1 project. Even if free of its long-term debt, this new company is created on the back of the huge financial loss for our government and the people of PNG. Our people want nothing to do with this company and its lies of prosperity. In Canada I learned that such a project would never be allowed in this company’s home waters.”

This loss adds to PNGs public debt which is at about 33 per cent of GDP. Australia has recently committed a $AUD300 million loan as direct budget assistance to ‘aid its economic reforms and government financing.’

Mr Mesulam continued, “A recent article in PNG Business News seems to suggest the ‘new’ Nautilus has applied to the PNG Mineral Resources Authority to vary the existing mining lease. This is against a background of calls from right across Papua New Guinean society to cancel the licenses.”

An added mystery is that someone is still buying shares in the old, defunct company. When Nautilus was removed from the Toronto Stock Exchange as part of the bankruptcy proceedings, it moved to unregulated trading of the now virtually worthless stock. Yet there has been a recent spike in buying that sent the price up to 0.003 cents per share.

“So many questions, and yet to date no answers. The company still looks to be lost at sea with no life raft in sight” claimed Mr Whitmore.

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Nautilus’ stock plummets as deep sea mining litigation proceeds

Deep Sea Mining Campaign | 17 July 2018

Today Nautilus Minerals Solwara 1 deep sea mine project will be at the centre of a court hearing in Papua New Guinea as local communities seek to enforce their legal rights to full information about the project.

Andy Whitmore, Finance campaigner from the Deep Sea Mining campaign said, “We were informed that Nautilus told its shareholders at their AGM that the legal case bought by local communities in PNG to stop the Solwara 1 project had been dismissed on June 18.”

“It is also alleged that Nautilus stated to shareholders they believed the government of PNG was going after community for cost recovery because it was a spurious lawsuit.” 

“This is misinformation from Nautilus!” claimed Jonathan Mesulam from the Alliance of Solwara Warriorsa local community leader whose village is located 25km from the Solwara 1 project.

“There is still a legal case registered at Waigani National Court House. The case, which was adjourned on June 18, will be heard today.”

“The real question is this: why is the government trying to dismiss this case? Why would government resources be invested in blocking this case over the constitutional right of all PNG citizens to Freedom of Information?”

Nautilus stock fell by 19% this month after a string of bad news stories. These include the contract with their shipbuilding supplier had been canceled, major mining company Anglo American divesting its’ shares from the company and that the majority of the local community in New Ireland province oppose the renewal of Nautilus’ exploration license.

“Local community around the Community Beneficiary Area (CBA) have all objected to the renewal of Exploration License 1196 through written objection which was lodged at the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) in March this year. There was also strong objection during the Warden hearing in April” continued Mr. Mesulam.

“New Irelanders are now well informed of the potential impact of Nautilus Minerals and their experimental seabed mining project. They are giving their undivided support to ensure the project is stopped at all cost.” 

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Group questions Namatanai MP’s stance on seabed mining

Carmella Gware | Loop PNG | May 19, 2018

recent response by the Namatanai MP on Radio New Zealand over the experimental seabed mining has not gone down well with some locals.

In the May 16th article, Walter Schnaubelt was reported to have said though  too much remained unknown about the environmental impacts of seabed mining, ‘that doesn’t mean that we just shut the door’.

Schnaubelt further said he was keeping an open mind on potential seabed mining, and he would maintain a neutral stand until adequate information on the benefits of the Solwara 1 project are made available to him.

Following his statement, the Alliance of Solwara Warriors said as an educated elite, Schnaubelt has to come out clear on his stance, as being neutral only indicates two reasons:

  • The benefits of seabed mining to support his election promises
  • And to swing when people react as it will have a political implication

Furthermore, they said the shark calling culture is also under threat, hence why preach tourism when our action is contradictory.

“We lose our culture and we lose our identity.”

“The Morgado Square, which is the breeding ground for tuna, is also under threat. Fisheries is a sustainable and renewable resource, the local and national economy will be affected,” said the Alliance.

Topaio Landowners Association Public Relations Officer, Towaira Manget, challenges the MP to look into sustainable development project rather than focus on the benefits of experimental seabed mining.

He commended the Alliance of Solwara Warriors for taking the fight and speaking for the silent local majority.

Apart from the vocal Alliance of Solwara Warriors, environmental experts, churches and NGOs have also protested against the first-of-its-kind seabed mining.

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PNG govt urged to follow Anglo American’s lead

Loop PNG | May 13, 2018

The PNG Government is urged to follow Anglo American’s lead and withdraw its share in Nautilus Minerals Inc.

The call has been made by the Alliance of Solwara Warriors following the May 4th announcement of the diversified miner in the Financial Times.

In a statement the Alliance of Solwara Warriors said the Government should “take heed of Anglo-American’s action as a professional example and withdraw its 15 percent share while there is still some value (K0.51 May 10th 2018)”.

“This is a clear indication of loss in investor confidence in the Solwara 1 Project and experimental seabed mining in PNG.

“Therefore we the Alliance of Solwara Warriors call on the Government to revoke the Solwara 1 Project and put a total ban on further seabed mining projects in our customary waters.

“We the maritime communities from the Bismarck and Solomon Seas have been resisting Nautilus Minerals experimental projects since 2009.

“Our seas are recognised and protected by our cultural and custom knowledge and as custodians and gatekeepers of this heritage, we recognise that Solwara 1 Project is a dangerous and bad investment.”

Meantime, the Anglo had said they were exiting their small minority shareholding in Nautilus “as part of the prioritization of our portfolio on our largest and greatest potential resource assets”.

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NGO fights mining plan on seabed

Image: Alliance of Solwara Warriors

Lemach Lavari | The National aka The Loggers Times | February 27, 2018

The Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) has received an objection by a non-governmental organisation representing impacted communities of the seabed mining project.
The Alliance of Solwara Warriors represents impacted communities from New Ireland, East New Britain, Madang, Manus and Milne Bay.
Spokesman Jonathan Mesulam told The National the group had lodged its objection against exploration licence 1196 (EL1196) in the waters off west coast Namatanai, New Ireland, and the Duke of York Islands, East New Britain.
Mesulam said MRA had received their objection.
He said MRA would conduct a stakeholder meeting for all parties to discuss their views.
These included Nautilus Minerals, Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (Cepa) and National Fisheries Authority (NFA), Mesulam said.
According to MRA, exploration licences are to be renewed every two years.
Any stakeholder can protest against the issuing of an exploration licence.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Exploration, Human rights, Papua New Guinea