Tag Archives: Solwara 1

CEO explains experimental undersea mining

In the article below Nautilus’ CEO paints a rosy picture that is very much at odds with the REAL STORY in its financial filings. Follow the links to read the true picture: 

Nautilus admits serious questions over Solwara 1 viability and future

Nautilus admits environmental impacts of experimental seabed mining unknown

The National aka The Loggers Times | May 25, 2017

THE first undersea mining in the country will take place in New Ireland and operated by Nautilus Minerals. Chief executive officer MIKE JOHNSTON explained to The National’s Business Editor SHIRLEY MAULUDU the nature of the project. He also discussed environmental aspects of the project.

MAULUDU: Tell us briefly about the company Nautilus Minerals.
JOHNSTON: Nautilus is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and is the first public company to explore the deep ocean floor the world’s future mineral resources. Nautilus was granted the world’s first exploration licence for deep sea mineral resources in 1997. Our first mining lease and environment permit were granted in 2009 and 2010 respectively.
MAULUDU: Tell us about the Solwara 1 project in New Ireland.
JOHNSTON: The Solwara 1 project is located in the Bismarck Sea, Papua New Guinea, 30 kms from the coast of New Ireland and 1600 meters below the surface. The project uses technologies from the offshore oil and gas industry, and terrestrial underground mining to produce high grade copper and gold. The planned extractions area is very small at 0.1 km2.  Additional benefits include that no tailings are produced, no landowners are required to be moved, and there is no impact from mining above 1300m water depth. The project is being developed in partnership with the PNG Government. It is fully permitted and has strong local and national support.
MAULUDU: Which communities, wards or the district in New Ireland will be directly impacted by the project?
JOHNSTON: As Solwara 1 is located at 1,600m water depth in the ocean, 30km from land, no one is directly impacted by the project. There is also no requirement to clear land, and no impact on tuna or coastal fisheries. An area known as the “Coastal Area of Benefit” (CAB) has been established by the provincial and national governments, where communication and community benefit programmes are focussed. The CAB comprises seven wards on the west coast of New Ireland. Only last week, Nautilus, in partnership with the NIPG, and with the assistance of Abt Associates and the New Ireland Provincial Health Authority, completed a health patrol and data collection programme (began in Oct 2016). The team estimated during this programme that they saw 7000-plus patients, out of a population of around 8500. These programmes will be ongoing.
MAULUDU: What sort of tools will be used to carry out the mining?
JOHNSTON: The production system uses existing technology from the offshore oil and gas sector, combined with rock cutting and materials handling technologies used in land-based operations.
The three main components of the Seafloor Production System are:
l Seafloor Production Tools comprising auxiliary cutter, bulk cutter and collecting machine;
l riser and Lifting System; and,
l Production Support Vessel.
The mining tools cut the rock material, which is then transferred to the Production Support Vessel as a “sloppy slurry” via a very large pump and steel pipe (riser) system.  On board the vessel the high grade rock is separated from the water by gravity methods. The resulting rock is stored in the ship’s hull, to be later transfer to a bulk cargo vessel, then shipped directly to China.
MAULUDU: How will the minerals be mined from under the sea?
JOHNSTON: Rock is cut on the seafloor by the AC and the BC, and then pumped to an adjacent stockpile area. The third machine, CM, then collects the cut material, sucking it up and transferring it as seawater slurry to the main pump, situated at the bottom of the steel riser system. The riser system comprises a rigid steel riser pipe supported from the vessel which delivers the slurry to the surface. The large subsea pump is situated at the bottom of the riser pump, just off the sea floor.  The entire riser and pump system is suspended directly beneath the support vessel. On the deck of the Production Support Vessel, the slurry is dewatered using gravity. The solid material is stored temporarily in the PSV’s hull, and then discharged to a transportation vessel moored alongside. Filtered seawater is pumped back to the seafloor through the riser pipes and provides hydraulic power to operate the RALS pump. Discharge of the return water at the seafloor from where it came eliminates mixing of the water column, and minimises the environmental impact of the operation.
MAULUDU: What minerals in particular will Nautilus be mining for?
JOHNSTON: Copper and gold.
MAULUDU: Environmental issues have been raised by individuals, groups, regarding the Solwara 1 project. How will Nautilus avoid causing any impact on the environment within which it will operate?
JOHNSTON: There are many significant environmental benefits to mining in the deep sea. And our systems try to use these benefits as much as possible. These include effectively no mine tailings, minimal pre-stripping of sediment, low fresh water needs, no vegetation stripping or fresh water catchment issues, minimal rehabilitation costs with no permanent on-site infrastructure such as roads, power lines, buildings and so on. At Solwara 1 we were able for example to design our riser system as a fully enclosed pump and pipe system to extract the mineralised material from the seafloor. There is no mixing of the water column and there is no impact from mining shallower than 1300m water depth at Solwara 1 (more than 1000 meters below where most tuna, whales etc live)
MAULUDU: How is Nautilus doing with its awareness programme in educating the impact communities on the nature of the project?
JOHNSTON: Nautilus has always and continues to ensure that the communities located closest to its Solwara 1 Project (and the wider community in PNG) are fully informed about the Solwara 1 Project. During the development of the Solwara 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), we visited a number of villages and towns in PNG to ensure the views and concerns of local communities were heard. The specific villages and towns were determined in consultation with PNG national and provincial governments. Our commitment to the community does not end with the completion of the EIS or granting of the Environment Permit. Community engagements have continued to take place since the Environment Permit was granted by the then Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) in December 2009. Representatives from the national and provincial governments accompany Nautilus Minerals during these community engagement campaigns. To date, Nautilus Minerals has recorded the attendance of around 30,000 people at engagements/awareness campaigns held in 46 locations within PNG. Both numbers are still growing. We plan to continue with our community engagement campaigns in New Ireland and East New Britain as we move into the operations phase of the project. We have and will continue to focus our engagement programme on the villages located nearest to the Solwara 1 Project site, the CAB. This area covers the communities who have the greatest interest in understanding the project and this will be where many of our CSR programs will be implemented.
MAULUDU: Give an update on the progress of the Solwara 1 project.
JOHNSTON: Nautilus has taken delivery of the Seafloor Production Tools (SPTs). They are currently undergoing submerged trials in PNG. The Riser and Ancillary equipment is completed and currently in storage. The Subsea Slurry and Lift Pump is completed and Nautilus will take delivery of it later this year. The Production Support Vessel is currently being built in China and is progressing to schedule.

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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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Ocean explorers find “Forests” of coral near Cook Islands

One of the Remote Operated Vehicles (ROV) exploring deep seas of the Pacific Ocean during the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer’s 2017 mission Photo: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Mountains in the Deep: Exploring the Central Pacific Basin.

“We have seen quite a few very large corals. There’ve been a couple as tall as the ROV, a couple as wide as the ROV. They’ve been absolutely stunning”

Dateline Pacific | Radio New Zealand | 4 May 2017

Dense coral forests are among the surprising discoveries in the ocean depths near the Cook Islands.

Robots have been videoing the seafloor and collecting samples as part of a US mission to better understand the Pacific’s unknown deep waters.

Sally Round spent an afternoon exploring with the mission.

“We’re making our way up the ridge here at a depth of 2150 metres…”

Dr Del Bohnenstiehl is on the Okeanos Explorer sitting on the high seas 260 kilometres north of the Cook Islands.

“We’re just going to try to make a little progress up this slope and really get a sense of how broad this bamboo coral forest is ….”

Darting luminous dots, waving fronds and crawling sea creatures loom into sharp focus via a remotely operated vehicle or ROV hovering above.

“Much better seeing it on the big screen … look at that …”

I’m sitting in Wellington with scientists from the New Zealand scientific agency NIWA and we’re “virtually” exploring, via a big screen, with the American team, thousands of kilometres away.

On the ship is the expedition’s co-ordinator Kasey Cantwell.

“We have seen quite a few very large corals. There’ve been a couple as tall as the ROV, a couple as wide as the ROV. They’ve been absolutely stunning. A couple of dead corals but in this sort of environment, that’s pretty typical.”

The New Zealand scientists aren’t just watching, they’re part of the research team, asking for samples which are collected by a robotic claw.

NIIWA principal scientist Malcolm Clark says the exploration is valuable for future management of the Cook Island’s Marae Moana.  

“Getting information like this enables us to put the biodiversity in a much more regional context, to find out what is unique, what’s quite common, where boundaries occur, where species can’t cross from one area to another.”

Dr Clark says the information will be sent to the Cook Islands authorities and will help with sustainability around fishing and seabed mining. 

“The sort of information we’re collecting with these dives gives us a very good indication of what is down there at the depths they might be interested in but it gives us an idea of what the wider environmental impacts could be of any human disturbance, any mining activity on the deep sea floor.”

Dr Clark says the scientists were amazed at the dense coral forests near the Cooks compared to some of the relatively barren areas they’d seen on other dives.

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Filed under Cook Islands, Environmental impact, Pacific region

Apple’s Commitment to a No-Mining Future Makes Experimental Seabed Mining Unnecessary

Scientists and civil society organisations from around the world welcome Apple’s 2017 Environment Responsibility Report announcing the communication technology giant’s goal to “stop mining the earth altogether”[1].  They call on other companies to match this commitment.

Apple’s goal is at odds with the excitement generated in some circles over proposals to mine the deep sea, and in particular by the world’s first deep sea mine (DSM) to be granted an operating licence in Papua New Guinea[2]. 

The announcement by Apple recognises the strong groundswell building for a circular economy that has eco-design, re-use, repairing, and recycling at its core. This will require other companies to also develop innovative business models and in particular mining companies to move beyond the current crude approach to sourcing minerals.

Professor Richard Steiner of Oasis Earth stated:

“One of the default arguments of DSM proponents is that the world economy will need the Rare Earth Elements and other minerals from the deep ocean for a growing demand for communications technologies.  Apple’s announcement shows this is will not be the case. The days of digging holes for raw materials, using them once or twice, discarding them into landfills, and then digging more holes for more raw materials to waste – are clearly numbered!”

Christina Tony, from the Bismarck Ramu Group in Papua New Guinea said:

“Our coastal communities in the Bismarck Sea are subject to the world’s first deep sea mining experiment – driven by Nautilus Inc. and investors such as Anglo American.  Why are these companies happy to sacrifice our people’s heath, livelihoods, culture, and marine environment.  This primitive and violent approach to mining belongs with the dinosaurs.   Apple is showing us a sophisticated vision of a sustainable future.”

Dr. Helen Rosenbaum, Deep Sea Mining campaign stated:

“Deep Sea Mining is risky business as both the environmental impacts and the returns are complete unknowns. Nautilus’ Annual Information Form, lodged with Canadian securities, emphasizes the experimental nature of the Solwara 1 project. In addition, report after report[3] demonstrates the world’s oceans are already on the brink of peril. With our Pacific partners we call for a complete ban on Deep Sea Mining and for  mining companies and electronics manufacturers to instead turn their mind to developing closed loop economies.”

Dr. Catherine Coumans of MiningWatch Canada says:

“Some mining for virgin minerals on  land may still be required in the short term to meet demand not satisfied by recycling, urban mining and reducing consumption[4]. But these alternatives provide win-win solutions for society, the environment and the economy.  The right choice is really a “no-brainer” and we welcome Apple’s foresight in leading the way. There is absolutely no need for deep sea mining [5].”

_______

NOTES

[1] No Mining Required; No more mining says Apple; and Apple will stop relying on mining for minerals ‘one day’.

[2]  See reports: Out of our Depth: Mining the Ocean Floor in Papua New Guinea (November 2011) http://www.deepseaminingoutofourdepth.org/wp-content/uploads/Out-Of-Our-Depth-low-res.pdf  ;  Physical Oceanographic Assessment of the Nautilus Environmental Impact Statement for the Solwara 1 Project – An Independent Review (November 2012) http://www.deepseaminingoutofourdepth.org/wp-content/uploads/EIS-Review-FINAL-low-res.pdf ; Accountability Zero: A Critique of Nautilus Minerals Environmental and Social Benchmarking Analysis of the Solwara 1 project (September 2015) http://www.deepseaminingoutofourdepth.org/wp-content/uploads/accountabilityZERO_web.pdf

[3] Reports include: World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Reviving the Ocean Economy (2015) ; The Living Planet (2016);  International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) State of the Ocean (2013) ; Explaining Ocean Warming (2016); and the United Nation’s World Ocean Assessment 2016 which is a global inventory of the state of the marine environment and problems threatening to degrade the oceans. Recent research from the MIDAS consortium indicates a concrete risk that deep sea mining would lead to serious irreversible harm.

[4] For example, California based Blue Oak Resources estimates that every year mining companies spend roughly $12 billion for virgin ore deposits. While tons of cell phones and other electronics are thrown out every year, each ton contains 70 times the amount of gold and silver found in virgin ore. For copper the number is even higher, with the equivalent of roughly one-third of global mining production thrown out in e-waste globally every year; ‘Urban mining’: UBC engineers say e-waste richer than ore pulled from the ground;  Can ‘urban mining’ solve the world’s e-waste problem?

[5] For example, http://www.savethehighseas.org/publicdocs/DSM-RE-Resource-Report_UTS_July2016.pdf

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Anti-deep sea mining campaigner comments irresponsible says PNG Police

Dominic D. Kakas | Chief Superintendent Director Media Unit

Anti-deep sea mining campaigner Helen Rosenbaum’s statement this week on Radio New Zealand that locals in Papua New Guinea were prepared to take up arms if a seabed mining project in PNG goes ahead is not only irresponsible but can be taken as an attempt to incite violence.

Ms Rosenbaum from the Deep Sea Mining Campaign was referring to Canadian company Nautilus Minerals which was given an Environmental Permit by the PNG government in 2009, to develop the Solwara 1 Project.

Ms Rosenbaum said locals in New Ireland Province and the Duke of York Islands were feeling so desperate that they would consider taking up arms against the project.

She was quoted as saying, “They know they can get access to explosives, it’s incredibly easy to get access to arms in a country like Papua New Guinea through the police, through the army”.

Whilst the efforts of activists such as Ms Rosenbaum are appreciated, grandstanding and making wild and reckless allegations do not help her cause. In fact it does more damage to her cause and also to the credibility of the country, the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary and the PNG Defence Force.

Despite what Ms Rosenbaum thinks, it is not “incredibly easy” to access arms in PNG either through the police or the Defence Force. And instead of taking up arms people in PNG are prepared to talk things over rather than resorting to violence.

So instead of making such wild and unfounded allegations and inciting violence Ms Rosenbaum should promote her cause more responsibly.

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Filed under Mine construction, Papua New Guinea

Locals threaten armed campaign against PNG seabed mine

Credit: Alliance of Solwara Warriors

Radio New Zealand | 1 May 2017

Locals are prepared to take up arms if a seabed mining project in Papua New Guinea goes ahead, according to a anti-deep sea mining campaigner.

A campaigner against deep sea mining says locals have threatened to take up arms if a seabed mining project in Papua New Guinea goes ahead.

Canadian company Nautilus Minerals was given an Environmental Permit by the PNG government in 2009, to develop the the Solwara 1 Project, but work is still to begin.

Helen Rosenbaum from the Deep Sea Mining Campaign said locals in New Ireland province and the Duke of York Islands were feeling so desperate that they would consider taking up arms against the project.

“They know they can get access to explosives, it’s incredibly easy to get access to arms in a country like Papua New Guinea through the police, through the army,” she said.

Ms Rosenbaum said the mining project would be the first of its kind and would set a dangerous precedent in the Pacific.

HELEN ROSEBAUM: Well there’s quite different layers of risk. There’s of course environmental which is well documented by our own reports which are direct risks to the hydro-thermal vents that are being mined and the unique eco systems that are there. There’s also the risks that will result from the mining process and the plumes that are generated that are likely to contain metals and other toxics and the risk of those things getting into the food chain – the marine food web effecting marine species and of course effecting the communities that rely on those marine species for their substance and their quite thriving local economy. There’s also economic financial risk to the company which we’ve been outlining to Anglo American and other investors, their economic returns for Soera 1 are totally unknown and Nautilus are clear about this in documentation that this is a huge experiment from all perspectives. They’re clear they don’t know what the environmental impacts are going to be.

Last year I visited the Duke of York islands, New Ireland province and communities and provincial government in East New Britain as well. People are very concerned about the impacts. They’re already facing impacts from climate change, they’re already losing land on their islands due to sea level rise. They’re facing increasing frequency of storm event so their already feeling quite threatened, so this is the last straw for them. On top of  all of that they were saying now we have to deal with this, they were already facing a very uncertain future and because of losing land to sea level rises they’re feeling like their future is going to depend more on the marine environment for their nutrition and their livelihoods and they’re wondering how they’re going to exist and how are their children going to exist.

TG: What ways have they told you they might respond?

HR: Well, they are working with local groups over there to support them, to use political power means. It is PNG elections time in June and July this year. We’re looking at how they can hold candidates accountable for their policy platforms and ask them that hard questions about their positions on Sowara 1 project, but a lot of people are feeling quite desperate and because of  the high level of corruption and not feeling that in PNG that a candidate says something that  that sounds good to them on Nautilus they won’t change their minds later on. And one can see this happening all the time with Sir Julius Chan who is the governor of New Ireland province and he just flip-flops. Sowera 1 is in the water of New Ireland and last year he was voicing serious concerns about the Sowera 1 project and wondering whether it should go ahead, but this week a press release came out saying he has resigned to the Sowera 1 and he’s going to make the most of it. Goodness knows what’s going on behind the scenes in terms of money changing hands. Local people are feeling so desperate they are saying that they would even take up arms against the project. Many of them work at mining companies, or have worked at mining companies in the past. They have access to explosives and they know it’s incredibly easy and it’s only a matter of money to get arms in a country like PNG through the police of through the army. And they have the experience of Bougainville, many of them worked at the Bougainville mine prior to the civil war in Bougainville what was caused by impacts of the civil war – for them making this threat is no idle threat . Many people in the Duke of York Islands and the New Ireland province have married into Bougainville. They understand want it means to have conflict, and they not saying this loosely.

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

Anglo American should divest from high risk deep sea mining

Deep Sea Mining Campaign | 24 April 2017

Multinational mining company Anglo American will be held accountable today at its annual shareholder meeting. The company’s investment in the experimental Nautilus Minerals Solwara 1 deep sea mining project, is deeply opposed by local communities, churches and wider civil society in Papua New Guinea. These stakeholders ask Anglo American to divest from Nautilus Inc.

Anglo American is proud of its international commitments to sustainability, human rights, and environmental stewardship, but will they inform shareholders that their investment in Nautilus does not respect people’s culture and heritage?

“Anglo American, we are not guinea pigs for your experimental project!” stated Jonathan Mesulam from the Alliance of Solwara Warriors. “We in the Pacific are custodians of the world’s largest ocean. These oceans are important to us as sources of food and livelihoods. They are vital for our culture and our very identity. Solwara 1 is in the middle of our traditional fishing grounds. You are threatening our home and our existence with experimental seabed mining.”

Christina Tony, from the Bismarck Ramu Group in PNG, said:

“Anglo American, Solwara 1 does not respect local communities’ livelihoods, health, food security and culture all of which are strongly linked to the sea. Our people have not provided their informed consent for this project. The Solwara 1 Environmental Impact Statement contains many gaps and errors – we can’t even obtain all the environmental research reports. By investing in this industry, Anglo American is complicit in trampling on our human rights.”

Dr. Helen Rosenbaum, Deep Sea Mining campaign stated:

“Deep Sea Mining is risky business as both the environmental impacts and the returns are complete unknowns. Nautilus’ Annual Information Form, lodged with Canadian securities, emphasises the experimental nature of the Solwara 1 project. In addition, report after report[1] demonstrates the world’s oceans are already on the brink of peril. Recent research from the MIDAS consortium indicates a concrete risk that deep sea mining would lead to serious irreversible harm. With our Pacific partners. we call for a complete ban on Deep Sea Mining and for Anglo American to dissociate itself and its shareholders from this unjust experiment.”

Andy Whitmore, London Mining Network says:

“We welcome Anglo American’s desire to look for more sustainable forms of mining to meet society’s needs[2][3]. However, deep sea mining is not the answer. Instead, the solution should prioritise environmental protection and resource conservation while maintaining economic benefits. We ask Anglo American to divest from sea bed mining and instead get behind alternatives to traditional mining developments and truly cutting edge approaches hold the promise of win-win solutions for society and the environment. 

NOTES

[1] Reports include: World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Reviving the Ocean Economy (2015) ; The Living Planet (2016);  International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) State of the Ocean (2013) ; Explaining Ocean Warming (2016); and the United Nation’s World Ocean Assessment 2016 which is a global inventory of the state of the marine environment and problems threatening to degrade the oceans.

[2] For example, California based Blue Oak Resources estimates that every year mining companies spend roughly $12 billion for virgin ore deposits. While tons of cell phones and other electronics are thrown out every year, each ton contains 70 times the amount of gold and silver found in virgin ore. For copper the number is even higher, with the equivalent of roughly one-third of global mining production thrown out in e-waste globally every year; ‘Urban mining’: UBC engineers say e-waste richer than ore pulled from the ground;  Can ‘urban mining’ solve the world’s e-waste problem?

[3] In Apple’s 2017 Environment Responsibility Report released last Wednesday 19th April, the company has announced a new, unprecedented goal for the tech industry to “stop mining the earth altogether”. Read more: No Mining Required; No more mining says Apple; and Apple will stop relying on mining for minerals ‘one day’.

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