Nautilus to return to PNG

Photo: Nautilus Minerals

Papua New Guinea Mining Minister Sir Ano Pala told Parliament Nautilus was coming back to Papua New Guinea but under a different entity to operate as they had three exploration licenses still valid.

Sir Ano said the company still held three exploration licenses or ELs that are all undergoing term extensions.

He said this responding to Northern Governor Gary Juffa’s questions in Parliament, “Can you confirm that Nautilus Seabed Mining is planning to come back to Papua New Guinea to engage in deep sea mining activities again?

“Given the past experience with Nautilus Mining, can the Minister advise us as to whether the Government has taken steps to reinforce the country’s mining laws and policies to protect the interest of our citizens and the sovereignty of our borders, and what measures have been taken,” Juffa asked.

“Can the Minister also advise if the government had taken any steps to recoup the A$300 million that was paid by the PNG tax payers, what progress has been made and if not, are there any safeguards to prevent such from re-occurring,” Juffa questioned in Parliament.

Sir Ano said: “It is now clear from my discussions with this company that the company is planning to return to PNG.

“This company currently holds three exploration licenses or ELs that are all undergoing term extensions.

A Mining Lease ML154, a new mining lease ML 512 known as Solwara II under application.

Nautilus was placed under Canadian courts supervised liquidation in 2019 that resulted in Deep Sea Mining Finance Limited (DSM) – a private company acquiring 100 per cent shares in Nautilus.

“Nautilus is now a subsidiary of this company, Deep Sea Mining Finance Limited.

“DSM plans to return to Solwara project through its three-phased programme. One of which is initially planned to commence later this year, the concept testing would be followed by trial mining which DSM planned to commence also later this year, trial mining would be followed by commercial production which DSM plans to commence next year, right through to ML 20-year lease agreement.

Department of Minerals Policy and Georhazard has addressed some of these concerns in the revised Mining Act.

“As a matter of conscience and best industrial practice, the Mineral Resource Authority has always imposed conditions in licence grants whenever laws and Government grants policies are silent or insufficient or in activities that impose on environment and communities,” he said.