Advocates say ‘game over’ to Nautilus

Environmental advocates have called out ‘game over’ to Nautilus Minerals following news that the project support vessel, critical to the development of Nautilus’ deep sea mining project, has been purchased for repurposing by an Indian company.

Advocates say Nautilus’ aspirations to be the world’s first deep sea miner sink to the bottom of the ocean after MDL Energy’s purchase.

Dr. Helen Rosenbaum, of the Deep Sea Mining Campaign, said: “Nautilus’ Production Support Vessel (PSV) was the centre piece of their model of operation. Without the PSV it’s difficult to see Nautilus ever developing its Solwara 1 project. 

“Given Nautilus’ dire financial circumstances, it is fair to say the game is over. There seems little chance of them repaying their bridging loans when these become due in less than a month. The Solwara 1 experiment can be deemed a failure.

“The people of the Bismarck Sea of Papua New Guinea have hopefully been spared an environmental disaster.”

Dr. Catherine Coumans of Mining Watch Canada stated: “If Nautilus sinks, the amazing hydrothermal vents targeted for mining with their unique and diverse life forms will be given a reprieve. As will the marine ecosystems and fisheries of the Bismarck Sea. Local communities have been fighting hard to preserve their way of life and their livelihoods for their children and children’s children.”

Jonathan Mesulam from the Alliance of Solwara Warriors, also added on, saying: “My village is located in New Ireland Province, only 25km from the proposed Solwara 1 project. It will be good news for my people if Nautilus goes bankrupt – instead of bankrupting our sea.

“We will fight this project to the very end.

“The Alliance of Solwara launched a legal case in PNG’s courts over a year ago. We are concerned that the Papua New Guinean Government has attempted to have our legal case dismissed. 

“We are now talking to our legal team about filing substantive court proceedings against Nautilus and the State to stop the project. One way or another we will chase Nautilus and Solwara 1 from PNG’s waters!”

Sir Arnold Amet, former Papua New Guinean Attorney General, declared: “I have been warning our Government publicly and privately about the financial mess they will find themselves in when this experimental company fails. The PNG Government invested heavily to purchase 15 percent of Nautilus and this will now translate into 15 percent of its bankruptcy and any debts the company owes.

“Our nation cannot afford this. The Government should now terminate the contract with Nautilus and cancel all permits for the Solwara 1 operation.”

The Mining Journal has reported that under a contract inked in Shanghai on July 26 and which became effective on September 3, the vessel is officially owned by MDL and has in fact been re-dubbed ‘Amaya Explorer'.

“MDL said OEV's dialogue for the charter of the vessel to Nautilus was terminated on October 5 and Nautilus had been instructed to remove all its equipment off the vessel. OEV is now re-purposing the vessel.”

(The PSV under construction – Picture: Nautilus Minerals Inc)

Press release