July 8, 2008

Papua New Guinea Minister Inspects Seabed Prospecting Ship

Text of report by Papua New Guinea newspaper The National website on 8 July

The seabed mineral exploration programme by Nautilus Minerals at its Solwara-1 project in New Ireland and East New Britain [ENB] is under way after its informal launching recently.

The launch was signified by the Vice-Minister for Mining Ano Pala's visit to Nautilus Minerals' Nor Sky - the vessel that will be used as the platform to conduct its seabed exploration programme.

Mr Pala toured Nor Sky after it arrived in Rabaul, East New Britain, for the exploration programme at the Solwara-1 project site, which is about 50 km from Rabaul port.

During his tour of the vessel, Mr Pala was impressed with the latest technology and expertise incorporated to carry out the programme and the progress so far. He said the national government would be proud to be associated with Nautilus, which would be using the latest technology and expertise on deep sea mining and environmental studies.

In light of environmental concerns raised such as pollution and damaging of reefs, Mr Pala said after thorough inspection of the vessel, he was satisfied that there were environmental studies taking place on the vessel using the latest technology and expertise. He said such information would be made available to public, universities and environment offices around the country.

"I am happy with the environmental studies that are in progress as the exploration operations will be done 2 km beneath sea level, where marine life can hardly be found," Mr Pala said. He said it was important to know the implications of deep sea mining in order to understand its impact. He stressed that there would be no landowner claims as the areas of exploration would not affect fishing grounds.

This, Mr Pala, said meant that the governor would be the only landowner. He said he was looking forward to receiving the final reports on the results from the company during the course of the year.

However, ENB Governor Leo Dion said landowner claims might be raised, and assured the provincial government and all local level governments that there would be no environmental implications. He said there would be representations in the provincial executive council for leaders to voice their concerns and take part in the project.

Nautilus is the first company to commercially explore the ocean floor for gold and copper as well as massive sulphide deposits, and subject to timely permitting is positioning itself to becoming an emerging producer in 2010.

Originally published by The National website, Port Moresby, in English 8 Jul 08.

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