Canadian firm Nautilus Minerals has been awarded a 20-year licence by Papua New Guinea’s Government to begin deep sea mining within the Solwara 1 project.
As The Guardian reports, Nautilus will mine an area of 1.6km beneath the Bismarck Sea, 50km off the coast of the PNG island of New Britain.
The locals are most concerned about the environmental impacts and risks of the mining operations.
Mr. Rosenbaum, professor of zoology from University of Oxford, alerts that underwater exploration will probably decimate deep water creatures yet to be identified by science, while deposit plumes could uncover marine life to harmful metals that will work their way up the food string to tuna fish, whales and even people.
“There are indirect impacts that could clog the gills of fish, affect photosynthesis and damage reefs,” the professor says.
Steve Rogers, the CEO of Nautilus, explained that the company had carried out a study of environmental influence over the past six years.
The Guardian quoted Mr. Rogers as saying: “This will be a relatively small footprint compared to a mine on land, on an area about the size of a dozen football pitches.
“We’ve sought out the best scientists in the world. We aren’t trying to pull the wool over anyone’s eyes.”
“This isn’t in a fishing area and won’t impact coral. Even if it were in a fishing area, it won’t affect that upper area where the fish are.”
Also the PNG government has obtained a 30% equity stake in the project, which will require it to bring about $25m(£16m) towards facilities, provoking claims of a flagrant conflict of interest.
Subsea World News Staff , August 09, 2012; Image: Nautilus Minerals