Category Archives: Mining

Experimental Seabed Mining


Nautilus Tenements in PNG

SOLWARA 1 is the first proposed DSM mine in the Pacific


Location: Bismarck Sea approximately 30 kilometres from the nearest coast in New Ireland Province.

Latitude 3°47’25.06″S. Longitude 152°05’41.65″E.

Status: In Development. Nautilus is working on the mining lease application and the development proposal which were submitted to the Government of PNG in 2008. The Environmental Permit for the development of the Solwara 1 Project was granted in December 2009, by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) of Papua New Guinea for a term of 25 years.

Type of Mine and Waste Disposal: Nautilus Minerals is planning to extract high-grade Seafloor Massive Sulphide (SMS) deposits of copper, gold, zinc, and silver in 1600 metres of water. The mining project is being developed in two phases: Phase 1: Extracting and exporting ore with no concentration or processing. No chemicals or blasting will be used for this process. Ore will be stockpiled and shipped from the Port of Rabaul for export processing. Phase 2: Construction of a treatment or concentrator facility. During the mining operation, approximately 130,000 tons of unconsolidated sediment (6 m deep over some of the deposit) and 115,000 tons of waste rock will be removed and pumped onto deeper nearby seabed areas down-slope. Ore will be transported 50 km south to shore, by vessels each 85 m long, for temporary storage at the Port of Rabaul on north New Britain Island. In Phase 1 of the project, the ore will be exported from Rabaul via 3-6 ore bulk carriers per month to a foreign processing facility and smelter. Phase 2 will see the building of a concentrator onshore in PNG and the ore concentrate will be exported to foreign smeltersThe projected mine life is 30 months (at a maximum production of 5,900 tons of ore per day) but could extend up to 5 years and beyond depending upon discoveries of additional mineralization.

Target Minerals: Gold, Copper, Silver, Zinc

Ownership and Finance: Nautilus, a Canadian company with headquarters in Toronto, is jointly owned by several of the largest mining companies in the world – Barrick Gold Corporation, Anglo-American, Teck Cominco, and Epion Holdings. The Government of PNG has a legal right to acquire up to 30% equity in the project. Nautilus currently holds 51 exploration licenses in the Bismarck Solomon Seas in the southwest Pacific, covering 107,917 km2, as well as 37 exploration license applications, covering another 88,906 km2.

Environmental Setting: The Solwara Project is a large Seafloor Massive Sulfide (SMS) deposit at Solwara 1, including areas of active and inactive hydrothermal vent chimneys and their associated ecosystems. Nautilus is the first company to commercially explore the ocean floor for gold and copper SMS deposits and is currently developing its first project.

Environmental Impacts: This project will severely damage the benthic habitat for a rare deep-sea sulfide mound ecosystem and also presents significant risks to other marine systems and resources in the region. It is likely that the target ecosystem will contain numerous rare and endemic (found only at the site) macro-invertebrate species. The active mineralized chimney habitats are colonized by faunal communities that are dependent on chemoautotrophic (e.g. sulphur-oxidising) micro-organisms for energy rather than energy from the sun. Species such as tube worms, bivalves and gastropods (and their associated fauna) cannot exist away from hydrothermal vents. These will probably be new to science (yet to be formally named and described). The Solwara Environmental Impact Statement prepared by Nautilus Minerals Niugini Limited and Coffey Natural Systems stated that “at least 20 new species have been added to the species list at active vent sites.” This is a high rate of occurrence for new species which indicates that there are likely many more species in the mining area that yet to be identified. Such species would probably become extinct due to the mining project.

Social Impacts: Potential social impacts are different from those encountered in land-based mining activities. Being the first mining operation of this type they are also difficult to predict. Impacts are likely to be less tangible than those already well-documented elsewhere in PNG. Coastal peoples in PNG feel substantial stewardship for the marine environment. They regard the seas as a holistic entity with considerable spiritual value. Many PNG people express a strong spiritual connection to all components of the ocean environment, including deep-see hydrothermal vent systems even though they may never have seen them. This suggests that social impacts of the proposed mining activities will extend beyond monetary valuation and inferred tenure of marine resources. Although coastal peoples in PNG may not live at or directly utilize the offshore mine site should it should not be interpreted to mean that they do not value and/or exert ownership and tenure over such areas.


Here is were much of the Pacific activity is taking place. Solwara I is Nautilis’s proposed, and almost approved mine. Image borrowed from Going for Gold


Unlike PNG, China has put a law in place to regulate Experimental Seabed Mining BEFORE licensing any operations – common sense really! The Maritime Executive | 27.02.2016 On Friday, China passed the country’s first law on deep seafloor mining. The … Continue reading → […]

New research reveals proposed conservation strategies at seabed mining sites are inadequate Seafloor massive sulfide deposits support unique megafaunal assemblages: Implications for seabed mining and conservation Open Channels Authors: Rachel Boschen, Ashley Rowden, Malcolm Clark, Arne Pallentin, Jonathan Gardner Mining of … Continue reading → […]

Cooks to take more direct approach to seabed mining Radio New Zealand The Cook Islands government says it will consider a more direct approach to find investors to mine its sea floor after a five month open tender process failed … Continue reading → […]

PNG is playing a dangerous game with people’s livelihoods, environment and culture by embarking on experimental seabed mining without understanding the potential impacts on the regions fish and fisheries, according to a South Pacific Community research proposal. The major research … Continue reading → […]

E.U. Deepsea Mining Project Launched The Maritime Executive | 05.02.2016 The European Commission is funding a deepsea mining project involving an international European consortium of industry and research organizations. The Blue Nodules project, launched on February 1, is part of … Continue reading → […]

Mining Technology | 2 February 2016 Nautilus Minerals has received three seafloor production tools (SPTs) from Soil Machine Dynamics’s (SMD) facility in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK, for its underwater Solwara 1 mining project in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea (PNG). … Continue reading → […]

PNG Today Despite the slump in the world mineral commodity prices and its negative impact on investment climate, a good number of existing mining and advanced exploration projects, progressed their work programs, while a number of project acquisitions were undertaken … Continue reading → […]

Nautilus signs deal on seafloor production The National aka The Loggers Times  NAUTILUS Minerals has signed an agreement with United Engineering Services LLC to provide support services in wet testing the company’s seafloor production equipment and storing the equipment. Nautilus … Continue reading → […]

Star Africa An 18-month moratorium on marine phosphate mining on Namibia’s seabed that was issued by the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources in September 2013 is still in force, because it was never lifted. That was all that the … Continue reading → […]

Andrew Campbell | Sun Media A combination of soft markets, mining companies’ lack of environmental knowledge and local opposition will stop a seabed exploration application from going ahead, says Green Party MP Catherine Delahunty. Commenting on Pacific Offshore Mining’s application … Continue reading → […]




The Watut Cries [documentary]

“The Watut Cries” examines the model of development chosen by Papua New Guinea. It looks at the impact of large scale mining development and its effects on the lives of people and their the environment and people. The documentary begins in the lower Watut area where sedimentation has become increasingly evident then goes to the Watut where food garden have been destroyed.

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Forced ‘Eviction’ by Nautilus

The Danu people of the West Coast of New Ireland Province in Papua New Guinea are currently being forced to move out of their village by the Canadian-owned company, Nautilus. The people said, around 15 men came to the village in the ‘night’ and forced them to sign some papers, regardless of questions posed at them by most of the elderly people about what those papers are about and what their signatures would mean. “They said the company (Nautilus) sent them, and if we don’t sign then we’ll loose our chances of getting the benefits from the project. We didn’t agreed to this Experimental Seabed Mining to happen, what makes them think we’ll agree to move away from our village that we’ve lived in for centuries?” said a Danu Village Clan Leader.

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Affectionate Angels Neglected

The state of Papua New Guinea’s Health Service is falling way behind that it now seems, no one cares what happens next. Most of us get pissed and unintentionally get on the doctors and nurses because of the very poor service we get, that costs lives in most cases. We all have the right to complain and demand to get the best health service because we all pay our share of taxes to the Government all year round-every year for as long as we’re ’employed’. Moreover, the government is allowing a lot of Foreign companies to come into PNG to operate what it terms as ‘Development Projects’, which obviously promises great development. Have you ever stopped to ask these nurses and doctors why, so as to clearly see if it’s really their fault? This documentary serves to let you know that these ‘government employed’ nurses and doctors behind the white and blue uniforms are just people like you and I, and they too pay taxes, and are suffering more than you can ever imagine. Regardless of the great negligence, these Angels don’t do favors for fame or glory, they do it to save lives, our lives.

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Inside the RPNGC [documentary]

A fast growing mining town, a steady influx of people and an increasing crime rate is putting a significant strain on police resources in the seaside town of Madang, Papua New New Guinea.

Madang used to have a police strength of over 200 men and women. Since the Kusbau barracks was condemned in 1998, staff strength has been drastically cut to 96. But that’s not all. The Provincial Police Commander, Tony Wagambie, points out that not only are his men and women struggling with limited resources, the workload and poor housing is putting an enormous strain on their families.


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