Tag Archives: Nautilus

Nautilus Minerals misleads the world over machine testing

This Auxiliary cutter has been tested in a large puddle NOT the extreme conditions it will face at 1500 metres

Nautilus Minerals has been proudly trumpeting to the world the successful completion of the ‘submerged trials’ of its giant mining machines. Nautilus though has been carefully to omit one crucial fact about these ‘successful trials’, they have been conducted in a large puddle NOT in the extreme conditions of pressure, cold and darkness the machines will experience at a depth of 1500m.

Nautilus still has no idea if the machines can work in those conditions, just as it has no idea what the environmental impacts of the proposed strip mining will be… 

Submerged Test of Seafloor Mining Tools Completed

Maritime Executive | 12 February 2018

Nautilus Minerals has successfully completed submerged trials of its seafloor production tools in Papua New Guinea.

The company plans to use the tools to cut and extract high grade copper and gold from the seafloor at the Solwara 1 Joint Venture’s project site in the Bismarck Sea. Solwara 1 is expected to be the world’s first commercial high-grade seafloor copper-gold mine project. The site has indicated resources of one million tons grading 7.2 percent copper, five grams (0.18 ounces) of gold per ton, 23 grams (0.81 ounces) of silver and 0.4 percent zinc. Inferred resources add 1.5 million tons of 8.1 percent copper, 6.4 grams of gold, 34 grams of silver and 0.9 percent zinc.

Each of the machines, a bulk cutter, an auxiliary cutter and a collection machine, weighs around 250 tons. All three will operate at depths of around 1,500 meters (4,900 feet) in temperatures of 2.6 degrees Celsius. The machines are designed to break rock with much greater force than land machines and must operate at low temperatures to avoid overheating.

The Collecting machine

The auxiliary cutter prepares the rugged seabed for the more powerful bulk cutter. These two tools gather the excavated material; the third, the collecting machine, will collect the cut material by drawing it in as seawater slurry with internal pumps and pushing it through a flexible pipe to the subsea pump and on to the support vessel above via the riser and lifting system.

The machines will be remotely controlled from a purpose-built vessel. The vessel is being built by China’s Fujian Mawei Shipbuilding and will measure 227 meters (750 feet) in length and 40 meters (130 feet) in width and will have accommodation for up to 180 people. It will generate approximately 31MW of power. 

Completing the trials in PNG allowed Nautilus to work closely with its partner Petromin, government officials and community leaders from coastal villages geographically closest to the Solwara 1 site the opportunity to witness the equipment in action.

The equipment is now being prepared for shipment to China where it will be integrated onto the support vessel [when and if it is ever completed].

Earlier this month, the Government of Papua New Guinea granted a two year exploration license to Nautilus. Work done in the area by the company has identified numerous exploration targets with similar geology to the deposits found at Solwara 1. 



Filed under Mine construction, Papua New Guinea

This Deep-Sea Creature Lays Its Eggs on Hydrothermal Vents—A First

The Pacific white skate lay its eggs on superheated hydrothermal vents, and then may wait more than four years for the eggs to hatch. PHOTOGRAPH BY JULYE NEWLIN, OCEAN EXPLORATION TRUST

Yet another scientific discovery lays bare the myth that ‘nothing lives down there’ and further reinforces that we just don’t know what could be lost if Nautilus Minerals is allowed to carry out its proposed open cut strip mining operation on the sea floor

Jason Bittel | National Geographic | February 8, 2018

The world’s most patient mom may be a deep-sea octopus that tends her eggs for nearly 4.5 years. But now, there may be a new contender for her throne.

Scientists have caught a rare glimpse of another deep-sea dweller that may also spend four or more years nursing its eggs, and it does it in an even more unusual place: on hydrothermal vents, where hot water spews from the ocean floor.

It’s called the Pacific white skate (Bathyraja spinosissima), a bone-white, bug-eyed relative of sharks that can live almost two miles (2,900 meters) underwater.

Deep-sea skates, which are shark relatives that resemble rays, lay large eggs that can take years to hatch in cold water. 

In June of 2015, scientists piloting a remotely operated vehicle through the depths of the Galapagos Marine Reserve discovered mounds upon mounds of Pacific white skate egg-casings littered atop a hydrothermal vent. Using the submarine’s robotic arm, the scientists plucked four of the yellow-green egg-cases—each about the size of a deflated football—and brought them back to the surface for DNA analysis.

This the first time skates have been found to use hydrothermal vents as nurseries, and the scientists suspect the animals are laying their eggs here for a reason.

It takes longer for eggs to incubate in cold water, so the skates may be warming them up on the vents, says Dr. Pelayo Salinas-de-León, a National Geographic Society Explorer who led the study, described in the journal Scientific Reports.

The team estimates that, like the deep-sea octopus, Pacific white ray egg cases may require more than four years to hatch, judging by the incubation time of a closely related skate in the Berendt Sea and the depth and temperature of the water surrounding the vent.

And that’s a “very conservative” estimate, adds Salinas-de-León, who is also a marine scientist with the Charles Darwin Foundation and National Geographic’s Pristine Seasinitiative.

A Whole New World

Since hydrothermal vents were first discovered in 1977, scientists have found crabs, anemones, mollusks, and shrimp inhabiting these seemingly inhospitable environments.

But until now, no one would have included skates on that list, says Dr. Lisa Levin, a professor of biological oceanography at the University of California, San Diego.

The Pacific white skate is the first animal found to be laying its eggs on a hydrothermal vent. PHOTOGRAPH BY JULYE NEWLIN, OCEAN EXPLORATION TRUST

“We know so little about the functions of these systems that finding a new function, like being a nursery habitat, is very important,” says Levin.

Interestingly, Levin says there have been a handful of sightings of skate eggs near cold seeps, which are similar to hydrothermal vents but lack heat and emit methane.

The water shooting out of a hydrothermal vent can exceed 750 degrees Fahrenheit (400°C), Salinas-de-León says, but as soon as it hits the near-freezing water of the deep sea, that plummets to just 36°F.

But even just a few degrees of warmth around the mouth of the vents could be enough to reduce the skate eggs’ incubation time by months or even years, says Salinas-de-León.

The only other animals known to use Earth’s warmth for egg incubation are the mound-building megapode birds of Southeast Asia and Australia and a group of nest-building neosauropod dinosaurs from the Cretaceous Period, he says.

Plumes In Peril

You might think that a bubbling cauldron at the bottom of the ocean would be relatively safe from humans and our impacts, but even these remote areas are threatened.

Hydrothermal vents are being targeted for deep seabed mining, and the oil and gas industry drills on the margins of methane cold seeps.

The water shooting out of a hydrothermal vent can exceed 750 degrees Fahrenheit, or 400°C. PHOTOGRAPH BY JULYE NEWLIN, OCEAN EXPLORATION TRUST

The new findings suggest that skates may be more at risk for overfishing than previously thought, since exceptionally long incubation times mean the animals’ populations can’t bounce back quickly.

“The idea of skates using heat to incubate their young, much like some dinosaurs, is likely to invoke fascination and maybe even a little sympathy,” says Sonja Fordham, president and founder of the conservation organization Shark Advocates International.

“We hope that exciting new findings like those in this paper can help to spark greater interest in skates and, in turn, a greater constituency for conserving them,” says Fordham.

Salinas-de-León, too, sees the discovery as a mandate to protect these unique and relatively unexplored ecosystems.

“We hardly know anything about the deep sea, and we are fishing, and mining, before we even get a chance to even document what species live down there and what unique behaviors [they] could reveal [to] us,” he says.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Pacific region, Papua New Guinea

Nautilus Granted New Exploration License; Includes New Targets

Despite the company’s financial collapse and near universal opposition to experimental seabed mining from local people, churches, politicians, scientists and the global community, the PNG government is still backing Nautilus Minerals

Nautilus Minerals Inc. | Globe Newswire | February 09, 2018

Nautilus Minerals is pleased to announce that the Government of Papua New Guinea has granted a two year Exploration License to Nautilus which will allow the Company to conduct exploration activities on this area within the southeast Bismarck Sea.

The Exploration License EL2537 covers 2,558 km2, including the same prospective geology that hosts Nautilus’ Solwara 1 deposit. The area was selected based on reconnaissance sampling and survey completed in 2017. Nautilus gratefully acknowledges assistance in this area by the PNG Geological Survey.

Mike Johnston, Nautilus’ CEO commented: “The granting of this Exploration License is excellent news. Work done in the area by the Company has identified numerous exploration targets with similar geology to our Seafloor Massive Sulfide deposits found at Solwara 1. The work completed last year reconfirms the significant exploration potential for deep sea minerals over expansive yet unexplored metallogenic provinces. Our team has worked very hard to improve exploration efficiency; covering larger areas at lower costs, and the results at hand show that this approach is bearing fruit.”

Subject to receiving additional funding under the Company’s previously announced bridge loans and potential credit facility transaction, Nautilus aims to test and progress these targets as soon as practicable, in order to advance the Company’s plans of increasing its current resource portfolio to support future seafloor mining operations. PNG is renowned for hosting large mineral deposits and the same tectonics that drive mineralization at the nearby Bougainville and Lihir deposits, is also believed to drive seafloor mineralisation at Solwara 1 and 12, placing this exploration license in a favorable location (see Links section below for maps of the license and exploration targets). Nautilus looks forward to sharing the results once exploration commences.

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Filed under Exploration, Papua New Guinea

PNG Mining Minista imas harim tu wari blong pipol long Bismarck solwara

Image: Alliance of Solwara Warriors

Caroline Tiriman |  ABC Radio | 8 February 2018

Wanpla communiti lida na papa graon long New Ireland Province long Papua New Guinea itok em na ol narapla papa graon ino wanbel stret long toktok blong minista blong mining ibin mekim aste olsem ol wok minining aninit long ol solwara long Bismarck Sea bai go het iet maski sopos igat planti wari iwok long kamap.

Jonathan Mesulam i mekim despla toktok bihaen long Minister for Mining Johnson Tuke ibin tokaut ken olsem National gavman igat laik long larim Nautilus Minerals long mekim ol wok mining long ol solwara namel long New Ireland na East New Britain provinces.

Ol ripot ikam long PNG itok Mr Tuke ibin tokim wanpla miting wantem bosman blong Nautilus kampani long Mande olsem emi no wanbel wantem ol laen oa grup blong ol narapla kantri na PNG iet husat iwok long kempein agensim despla project. 

Tasol Mr Mesulam itokim Radio Australia olsem gavman imas save long bikpla wari long graon long Bougainville, na despla inap kamap ken long hap blong ol.

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Filed under Environmental impact, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Minister should listen to the people on Experimental Seabed Mining

Lester Seri | ACT NOW! | 8 February 2018

Our Minister for Mining has made known his support for experimental seabed mining, but he has not given any rational justification for his endorsement of Nautilus Minerals and Solwara 1, especially when there is so much uncertainty and questions being asked about Papua New Guinea being used as a guinea pig.

There are international scientists highlighting likely serious biological / ecological problems that could come about, as there has never been any such seabed mining done before anywhere in the world. Surely, anybody in a responsible position as an elected member of Parliament entrusted with the duty to represent the interest / concerns of his or her electorate and the country, is supposed to, in the midst of citizens concern, take time, assess and evaluate the issues / concerns before taking a decision. Minister Tuke has failed miserably in this regard!

Many people have already raised serious doubts and concerns, but neither the Minister nor the Government have come forward to give an honest and truthful answer to the people. Instead they have made a unilateral decision without taking time to answer or respond to the people’s queries. The Minister has taken a dictatorial stand defying the peoples concerns.

The Minister says he is only going by the Government’s decision to approve the mining permit but does not give any serious scientific or economic rational for why Solwara 1 has been granted the mining license.

The minister is concerned there have been no new mines been opened recently, and says that he is pursuing the Governments policy to get new mines on stream and operational. This is common government bullshit all over the world.

The question that needs answering (and as citizens we want to know) is, what is the economic rationale and benefits that will accrue to the people and the country now and into the future. I mean how much difference (benefit) in terms of actual money and human development will Solwara 1 effectively contribute to the the country?

We need some indication of the volume and quantity of minerals and value, and the likely benefits that we will be gaining from this mining project.  These benefits, whatever they may be, ought to be spelt out, clearly articulated, so we are not only clear but assured of what we are likely to gain.

Just because the Minister or Prime Minister and their members are elected MPs  does not necessary mean that they are always right in their judgment, and that we will surely gain as they claim. This uncertainty arises from the government failure in giving its citizens the actual benefits analysis and, breakdown of the financial benefits that will accrue.

As citizens, we also want to know, what likely costs (environmentally and economically) we will have to endure, and how much of this cost can be justified, considering the fact that the government has bought shares (using public funds) in Solwara 1.

We would like to know, in the event of the mine being unsuccessful / unprofitable and if we miss out on benefits, how are we going to recoup our investment? The Minister and the government have a duty and responsibility to explain to its citizens, how it will insure itself from any possible loss.

Our history has shown us over 40 years that despite active government engagement in extractive (mining) industries and despite seeing and witnessing billions of kina in revenue earned by foreign companies, there really is nothing to show in terms of real development and benefit to the citizens and the nation.

All our development indicators are well below the respectable levels enjoyed by much smaller countries in the Pacific with little or no natural resource base in the abundance that we have.

It is this very arrogant and reckless attitude of MPs who have been elected to Parliament as the people representatives, politicians, legislators, and decision makers that has cost this country so dearly and we are all experiencing the hardship today, and no doubt it will be experienced by the future generation.

I cannot fathom the reckless attitude of the Minister, especially in the light of the financial problems that Nautilus Minerals is facing and its executives resigning. Any sane and rational elected leader would not only be cognizant of the problems and doubts raised, but would be applying intelligence, and precautionary principles in evaluating and assessing the pros and cons before taking any decision.

PNG’s increasing financial debt, no medicines, roads falling apart which we are unable to maintain, owing millions of kina to oil and gas landowners, teachers, superannuation funds, schools, and increasing law and order problems are a testament to the recklessness of our politicians, and should warrant them to be conscious and rational and put the interest of our citizens and country first and above the profit interest of foreign companies!

I cannot believe the Minister has made time to meet with the Nautilus executives to hear their side of the story but is not able to meet with citizens to hear our concerns? One can easily draw conclusions of what might likely be happening, whether true or not? Politicians are supposed to allow time to hear the concerns of all parties affected by any of their decisions. This is not the case in the current situation.

Thus, one questions the Minister and whose interest was he was elected to represent?

Can someone drum some sense into the Minister, the Prime Minister and the Government?

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Filed under Environmental impact, Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea

Tuke Firm On Seafloor Mining Decision

Minister Johnson Tuke is demanding Nautilus provide a firm timeline for mining to start

Matthew Vari| Post Courier | February 6, 2018

Minister for Mining Johnson Tuke is firmly committed to the National Government’s decision to go ahead with the Solwara One project.

Mr Tuke maintained the government has done its due diligence to the latter and Nautilus Minerals has complied per government regulations.

He said this in response to what he termed were external groups that continue to undermine the decision made by the country.

“I stand firm that this is the government’s decision and no other parties can undermine the government.”

“Papua New Guinea is a sovereign nation and as such we go by our own polices and manage our own affairs in so far as this ministry is concerned.”

Minister Tuke made the comments during an update presentation made by Nautilus CEO Mike Johnston on Monday evening in Port Moresby. The presentation has is part of Minster Tuke’s recent planned visits to existing Mine projects in the country.

Minister Tuke said the government has been determined to ensure new prospects get off the ground, thus he has met with developers for other proposed mine projects in the country.

“I have been adamant about this not only you (Nautilus), but few other mining prospectus we have got Wafi (Golpu) and Frieda river to deal with, I am concerned with the timeline. You have give some us certainty,” Minister Tuke told Mr Johnston.

“For the last few years or so we haven’t experienced any new mine. This government is concerned that we should at least come up with a new mine that is the reason why I have demanded to know the timeline.”

He, however, maintained that all requirements for the first of its kind seafloor operation to stick to the policies and environmental provisions.


Filed under Mine construction, Papua New Guinea

Seabed mining project off PNG hits choppy waters

Speed read

  • World’s first sea mining project hits funds crunch, legal roadblocks
  • But developer plans to go ahead despite setbacks and questions on its viability
  • Local communities in PNG fear the project will destroy their livelihood

Fatima Arkin | SciDevNet | 5 February 2018

Despite a funds crunch and legal challenges mounted by coastal communities in Papua New Guinea (PNG), the world’s first deep-sea mining industry will go ahead, assures a spokesperson for Nautilus Minerals, the project developer. 

Noreen Dillane, corporate communications manager at the Canada-registered Nautilus, tells SciDev.Net that the company views the ‘Solwara 1’ project as “ultimately lucrative” because of the rising demand for metals due to the development of electric vehicles and storage batteries.   

“Commodity prices are very strong at present, with gold and copper prices currently at four-year highs, cobalt at an all-time high, and zinc at a ten-year high,” says Dillane.

Solwara 1 aims to extract gold and copper deposits beneath the Bismark Sea under permits given by the PNG government, which also owns 15 per cent equity in the project.

Nautilus fell short of the target to raise US$41 million by the end of 2017, as well as an additional US$270 million to build and deploy the seafloor production system for the project. In December, the company warned the Toronto Stock Exchange that “there can be no assurances that the company will be successful in securing the necessary additional financing transactions within the required time or at all”.  

In January, Arnold Amet, former PNG attorney-general and justice minister, asked the government to end its partnership with Nautilus, saying that the mining project was financially risky and posed an environmental threat.

“By the company’s own admission, the project is an experiment with unknown environmental and social consequences and uncertain profits. The past few months have really shown the extent to which financiers and our own communities in PNG reject this project,” he said in a statement.

“The local communities of Namatanai district in the New Ireland Province and the Duke of York Islanders in the Gazelle district of the East New Britain Province (all in PNG) are still very concerned about environmental impacts of mining activities to their traditional fishing waters,” Amet tells SciDev.Net.

“There are uncertainties about the tides carrying the sediments onto their shallow waters, affecting fishing, as well as marine life and marine environments.”

On 6 December, local communities launched legal proceedings against the PNG government demanding production of documents relating to the licensing of Nautilus and potential environmental, health and economic impacts from the Solwara 1 deep-sea project. 

Two key officials recently left Nautilus: director Mark P.M. Horn resigned in October, followed by vice-president for PNG operations Adam Wright in January.   

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Filed under Environmental impact, Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea