THE government has given the green light for what is hoped to be world’s first sea floor mining venture, The National reports.
It has granted a 20-year mining lease to Canadian company, Nautilus Minerals, to mine gold and copper deposits in a 59km2 section of the
The Solwara1 one site, as it is known, is off the coast of New Ireland and about 50km north of Rabaul, Nautilus Minerals CEO Stephen Rogers told Radio
The PNG government now had one month to decide if it would exercise its option to take a stake in the project of anything up to 30%.
Production is expected to begin in late 2013 or in 2014.
“As this industry emerges, it is going to present a significant contribution to the PNG economy,” he added.
He said early this month Nautilus announced more drilling results from Solwara1 which showed a combined indicated and inferred resource of about 1.3 million tonnes a year.
“Any capital that we have to put into the project, going forward … the government would have to put up its 30% share.
“Initially, it has an outlay of approximately US$20 million to US$25 million which represents the investment costs to date on the exploration, the environmental work and the development work, that has been carried out so far on the project,” he said.
Asked what sort of stake the government was considering,
“As the project is offshore, you don’t have to deal with landowners. Does that mean PNG and its citizens will not get as much income from deep sea mining as it does from mining on land?
“Not at all. The same opportunities exist for people to participate in this project by providing services to the company, and in terms of the royalties going back into the country, they are exactly the same as any land-based mine.
“So while we are not impacting people and having to move them from their homes, the general benefit back into the country is very similar.”