14 Jun 2013

Nautilus defends validity of Vanuatu mining licences

6:51 am on 14 June 2013

A mining company licensed to explore Vanuatu seabeds is confident its licences are valid, despite revelations that dozens were issued without proper consultation.

The recently installed Lands Minister, Ralph Regenvanu, revealed this week that 148 licenses have been issued over the past five years.

He says the licences were never approved by the Council of Ministers or Parliament, but only by previous Land Ministers.

But the Vice President of Exploration at Nautilus Minerals, Jonathan Lowe, says the company has no doubt its licences are valid.

"Nautilus is confident about the Vanuatu authorities following due process with respect to our applications. Obviously I can't speak to those of our competitors or what the minister does or doesn't know about his new portfolio."

Mr Lowe says Nautilus submitted renewals for the applications two weeks ago, and that departmental authorities in Vanuatu were accommodating and aware of what the due process was.

Mr Regenvanu says only one of the licences was gazetted and is now seeking legal advice about the rest.