Tag Archives: Soil Machine Dynamics

Scottish Enterprise urged to rule out ‘damaging’ deep sea mining

Joe Lo | The Ferret  July 15, 2019

Environmental campaigners have called on the Scottish Government’s economic development agency not to spend taxpayers’ money subsidising a controversial new form of underwater mining.

A report commissioned by Scottish Enterprise echoed concerns that deep sea mining could lead to “the potential extinction of unique species” – but the agency has refused to rule out investing in the industry.

Deep sea mining envisages machines sucking up the seabed so that minerals like cobalt and manganese can be extracted for use in products such as mobile phones, wind turbines and batteries.

Although no mining has begun yet, mining sites have been proposed in the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean and near Peru and Japan.

The UK government, in collaboration with US arms company Lockheed Martin, has a license to mine an area larger than England off the west coast of Mexico.

An April 2017 report into deep sea mining commissioned by Scottish Enterprise was made public in July after a freedom of information request by Greenpeace’s Unearthed website.

The report was written by the research arm of Subsea UK which describes itself  “the champion” of the UK under-sea industry. “The environmental impacts of deep sea mining are not fully understood,” cautioned the report.

“The activities involved in subsea mining could have detrimental impacts on localised populations as well as an impact on world oceans through the potential extinction of unique species that form the first rung of the food chain.”

Scottish Enterprise said that it regularly undertook research into markets to understand their potential for Scotland’s businesses. “This report was commissioned to highlight the market potential in a range of sectors such as aquaculture and marine renewables, that Scotland’s subsea capability could be appropriate for in future market activity,” David Rennie, the agency’s head of oil and gas, told Unearthed.

“As yet we have not made any decisions, or progressed any activity, on how we might develop seabed mining. Other sectors such as marine renewables and aquaculture are likely to offer more immediate opportunities and any significant developments in seabed mining are likely to be some years off.”

But Friends of the Earth Scotland called for funding to be blocked now. “Scottish Enterprise should immediately rule out any support for deep sea mining,” said the environmental group’s head of campaigns, Mary Church.

“It is absurd to even be considering putting public money into such a damaging activity at a time when the life in our oceans is already under so much threat from climate change, over fishing, plastic pollution and oil extraction.”

Greenpeace UK urged politicians to be held to account for planning to spend taxpayers’ money on deep sea mining. “Scottish Enterprise is well aware of the potential environmental risks and there needs to be much more of a public conversation about whether citizens, including avid Blue Planet fans, are prepared to permit the potential extinction of species and risking making climate change worse,” said the group’s oceans campaigner, Louisa Casson.

She authored a Greenpeace report in 2019 warning that deep sea mining could make climate change worse by releasing carbon stored in sediments or by disrupting process which help scavenge carbon and deliver it to those sediments. Marine life naturally absorbs carbon, carrying some of it to the seafloor when they die.

That we should be destroying these things is so deeply tragic. David Attenborough, broadcaster

Wildlife broadcaster, David Attenborough, has pointed out that the deep sea is where life began. “That we should be destroying these things is so deeply tragic,” he told the BBC. “I mean, that humanity should just plough on with no regard for the consequences, because they don’t know what they are.”

The UK parliament’s cross-party environmental audit committee has warned that deep sea mining would have “catastrophic impacts on the seafloor site and its inhabitants”. In a report, MPs called on the UK government not to use its deep sea mining licenses and to pressure other countries and the International Seabed Authority (ISA) not to issue any more licenses.

The committee also criticised regulation of the industry.”We are concerned that the ISA, the licensing body for seabed exploration, also stands to benefit from revenues, which is a clear conflict of interest,” they said.

A Scottish Enterprise spokesperson told The Ferret: “Developments in seabed mining are closely controlled and regulated by the International Seabed Authority and the industry is very much in its infancy. Should any project be brought forward in the future it would be subject to rigorous economic and environmental due diligence.”

The Scottish Government said it supports “clean, healthy, safe, productive and biologically diverse seas, balancing sustainable development with environmental protection”.

A government spokesperson added: “Any deep sea mining would be subject to regulatory controls and thorough assessment, including conducting an environmental appraisal.‎”

Three companies mentioned in the Scottish Enterprise report as potential recipients of support are Royal IHC, 2H Offshore and Soil Machine Dynamics. They all design machinery which could be used in deep sea mining and are all ultimately foreign-owned.

Royal IHC is majority-owned by the wealthy Dutch de Bruin family. 2H Offshore is ultimately owned by two US billionaires close to Donald Trump, Henry Kravis and George Roberts. Soil Machine Dynamics is ultimately majority-owned by the Chinese government.

When asked if it subsidises foreign owned companies, Scottish Enterprise said it works with “both indigenous and international companies”. On investing in companies owned by the Chinese state, a spokesperson stressed that the agency carried out “rigorous due diligence”.

Government wildlife and environment agencies all declined to comment, including Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Joint Nature Conservation Committee’s chief scientist, Christine Maggs.

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PNG people pay for profits of European companies feeding off experimental seabed mining plans

Experimental seabed mining is not due to begin in PNG until 2018 but already the poverty stricken people of PNG, who lack access to even clean drinking water or basic sanitation, are seeing their taxes pay for the profits of companies in wealthy European countries…

Finnish company Cargotec and German giant Siemen have joined Rolls Royce and Soil Machine Dynamics in the UK in feeding off $113 million of PNG tax payers money paid over to Nautilus Minerals – despite strong public opposition to experimental seabed mining in PNG and rest of the Pacific region 

poor feed the rich

World’s first subsea mining vessel to be equipped with MacGregor subsea cranes

Cargotec via Nasdaq Global Newswire

MacGregor, part of Cargotec, has been awarded a contract by Fujian Mawei Shipbuilding Limited for two subsea knuckle boom cranes to be installed on the world’s first seabed mining vessel.  Delivery of the cranes is scheduled for Q1/2017. The order was booked into first quarter 2015 order intake.

The 227m production support vessel has a beam of 40m. It has been designed by Singapore’s SeaTech Solutions for Dubai-based owner Marine Assets Corporation (MAC). Following delivery at the end of 2017, it will operate under long-term charter to Canadian seafloor exploration company Nautilus Minerals Inc.

The MacGregor order consists of two knuckle boom cranes; a 200t active heave-compensation (AHC) subsea crane with the capability to operate to a depth of 2,500m, and a smaller 100t subsea crane.

Mike Johnston, CEO of Nautilus Minerals, says, “We are very pleased to have such a world class supplier providing key equipment for use on our Production Support Vessel. The cranes are an essential component in ensuring operations can be performed safely across all of our large working deck areas. We look forward to reporting on the progress of this equipment as we move closer to production in 2018.”

“We are delighted that we have been chosen to supply the cranes for this exciting and prestigious new vessel,” says Tom Svennevig, Vice President, Offshore Load Handling, MacGregor. “The demands of offshore operations are constantly changing. At MacGregor, we work hard to understand our customers’ requirements and to ensure that we are always ahead of the competition in our ability to offer exactly the right hardware for the job, supported by our global service infrastructure.”

Siemens awarded Nautilus Minerals electrical installation contract

Nautilus Minerals via James Perkins | Mining Innovation

Nautilus Minerals announces that Siemens International Trading, a subsidiary of Siemens AG, has been awarded the order for the supply of the entire electrical installation for its production support vessel.

Under the contract, Siemens will supply all of the shipboard electrical installation systems for Nautilus Minerals’ production support vessel, to be deployed on its Solwara seabed mining project off the coast of Papua New Guinea.

This will include all main power generators, switchboards, transformers, electrical motors and all other systems to provide power generation, propulsion, automation and distribution.

In addition to the electrical systems on the support vessel, Siemens will be responsible for providing switchboards and transformers for power distribution across its seafloor mining equipment which will be integrated into the support vessel during the construction process.

Mike Johnston, Nautilus’ CEO, commented:

the electrical package marks the fourth major long lead time package to be awarded by the shipyard, Fujian Mawei Shipbuilding.

We are especially pleased to be partnering… Siemens, their involvement with our first seafloor production system, along with other industry heavyweights such as GE Oil and Gas, Sandvik, Soil Machine Dynamics, Rolls Royce, Bedeschi and McGregor highlights the quality of the system that we are building.

We look forward to reporting on Siemens’ progress as the vessel construction progresses,” he added.

The Solwara 1 project will focus on the extraction of seabed sulphide deposits from underwater nodules, which also contain gold and silver.

Nautilus moves into top gear to start PNG seafloor mining in 2018

Canadian company Nautilus Minerals is once again gearing up to become the world’s first deep sea miner of gold and copper at its Solwara 1 site in Papua New Guinea.

ABC Radio Australia

Since Nautilus resolved a long-running dispute with the Papua New Guinea government in December, it has let contracts with global giants from Britain’s Rolls Royce through to engineering firms, shipbuilders and specialist part makers in China, Germany, Italy and more.

2018 has been named as the new start date.

Presenter: Jemima Garrett

Speaker: Mike Johnston, Nautilus CEO

GARRETT: The Pacific is rich in seafloor massive sulphide deposits and in nodules, both of which contain very high concentrations of valuable minerals.

Canadian company, Nautilus Minerals is determined to be the first in the world to mine these deposits but in 2012 a commercial dispute with the PNG government brought its plans at its Solwara site in the Bismark Sea to a grinding halt.

In December, the PNG government finally paid the USD$113 million it owed for its stake in the project.

Since then preparations for mining have gone into top gear. The three purpose-built machines needed on the seabed are expected to be delivered at the end of this year and other components will be ready next year.

Nautilus CEO Mike Johnston says the final piece of equipment, a specially-designed ship to support mining, will be ready to start in 2018.

GRAB: We are on track for delivery of the vessel in the last quarter of 2017.

GARRETT: Yo u are now in a joint venture with the Papua New Guinea government and PNG has paid for its 15% stake right up to the time of first production. This hasn’t been an easy relationship. A dispute halted work in 2012. Even after that when the International Court of Arbitration had ruled in your favour PNG was late with its payments. What is the relationship like now?

JOHNSTON: Oh, the relationship is very, very good at the moment. We have had our first joint venture meeting. Petromin (the vehicle for state ownership) is a very good partner. The issues around the dispute and arbitration, you know, they were different people involved. Our relationship with the goverment has always been very solid.The dispute was around commercial items which were a little bit tricky at the time but those have all been resolved and we have formed the joint venture and both parties are working together to deliver the project.

GARRETT: Nautilus has all the permits necessary to start mining, including an environmental permit.

Activists, dismayed by the impact of mining on land, continue to fight a vociferous campaign against the Pacific becoming the world’s guinea-pig for extending commercial development to the sea floor.

Mike Johnston says seafloor mining has a much smaller environmental impact than land mining and is also less risky.

JOHNSTON: It is not like building a mine in Papua New Guinea itself where you have to build roads and you’ve got to stop those from washing away and you’ve got to build power stations and stop those from being subject to floods and earthquakes and things and you have got to build waste dumps and dams and things. So we don’t have to do that. We have got fixed price contracts and our equipment is being built in factories.

GARRETT: Nautilus is investing in health facilities, education and infrastrucutre and aims to hire Papua New Guineans for at least 50 percent of its new senior and professional jobs.

Once mining gets underway 140 staff will be present on the mining support vessel and rosters will be organised to ensure total employment is many times that number.

Mike Johnson says Nautilus’s role as a good corporate citizen has contributed to its good relations with provincial and national governments.

JOHNSTON: The government of Prime Minister O’Neill is very focussed on trying to raise the standard of living and development in PNG and they see people, companies like us, with our social programs and that, are an additional way for the government to help deliver services to the broader community in Pauya New Guinea.

GARRETT: You still need to find around USD$200 million to get to the production stage. How hard will that be and will the PNG government be upping its stake in the joint venture?

JOHNSTON: Well, we have very supportive shareholders, major shareholders. We don’t see it as being a problem. With regards to the PNG government stake they do have the option to take additional equity. they have to make, their first election is, I think in June. To be honest, I haven’t spoken directly to them at the moment, about that option, but PNG government has got a lot of things on, too.

GARRETT: There is a lot of talk in PNG about the benefits of mining not getting to the people. Once you get to the stage of mining, what will you be doing to ensure that is not the case with your project?

JOHNSTON: well, w e ensure it is not the case for our project right now. You know, we are delivering services, improved sanitation and water, we have a plan, there are 7 wards that we are working most closely with on the west coast of New Ireland. We have a tender out at the moment for the design of the bridges we are looking to put in. So, yeah, the people of the west coast of New Ireland are going to benefit and are currently benefitting from our project, from mining. I think some of the claims from people that say the benefits of mining arn’t being felt by the people is not exactly completely true, you know. Over the last 25 years in which I have lived and worked in PNG I have seen enormous changes in the country which a lot of those have been driven off the back of mining investments and LNG, with the LNG project.


Filed under Corruption, Financial returns, Human rights, Papua New Guinea