Nautilus overcomes obstacle to PNG seabed mining
Nautilus Minerals is set to begin mining the seabed off New Ireland in Papua New Guinea, following a dispute resolution with the government there.
Papua New Guinea's mining minister, Byron Chan, says an experimental seabed mining project could pump 300 million kina into the country's economy.
The Canadian mining company, Nautilus Minerals, is set to begin mining the seabed off New Ireland in Papua New Guinea for metals, following a dispute resolution with the government there.
Byron Chan told Christopher Gilbert the dispute was over ownership of the project.
BYRON CHAN: As well as other issues raised by Natutilus on government participation and commitments. We have settled that. The national government has acquired 15 percent of equity for the Nautilus project on behalf of the provincial government of New Ireland and East New Britain, as well as shares on behalf of the state, up to 300 million kina. That was accessed through a domestic loan with BSP our national bank.
CHRISTOPHER GILBERT: And do you have a forecast return for what Papua New Guinea will benefit from this project?
BC: 300 million, that's 15 percent, and that's a very significant amount for any project.
CG: Over how long?
BC: Well it's estimated around six years, probably up to three billion in gross turnover is expected. We expect 15 percent of that.
CG: Nautilus has not yet got a vessel but has it got the green light to go ahead with this now or are there other obstacles in place?
BC: Nautilus has always had the green light. The mining lease was granted by the former government. They've actually got about 18 months left yet to start work, directly start infrastructure projects et cetera.
CG: And as the MP for New Ireland you're constituents aren't too happy. This isn't the most popular project with them is it?
BC: My constituents have been continuously consulted, including the other outlying islands. So the people are aware that the project will go ahead.
CG: Ok so they're aware of what's going to be happening but they're not supportive of it are they, it's quite unpopular.
BC: There's certain Non Government Organisations, quite learned people, they are I suppose spearheading the awareness against this type of mining. My people were just unfortunate in my district... and this time the law really lies with the national government. The ownership of minerals on the seabed really belongs to the state.
CG: Yeah but Mr Chan a democratic state is made up of the people and if the people aren't happy with it are you just saying that the government is going to go ahead with it regardless?
BC: Well governments have made commitments under the current laws of the state. For any government to deny what has already been given is a breach of their agreement. When I came into office I looked at all avenues, but there were no avenues all the doors had been closed. That's why I'm just managing this project, and guiding it along, and hope that my people, my district, my province also benefit from this project.
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