Nautilus responds to speculation

BOTH Nautilus Minerals and PNG Mining Minister Byron Chan have criticised incorrect press coverage on the Solwara 1 deep-sea mining project, which is becoming a growing target for environmental groups.
Nautilus responds to speculation Nautilus responds to speculation Nautilus responds to speculation Nautilus responds to speculation Nautilus responds to speculation

The biggest blunder was made by the Post-Courier, which last month ran an environmentalist-peppered cover story titled "Government approves sea bed mining" when this headline wasn't news.

In a statement last week, Nautilus chief executive officer Stephen Rogers reiterated that the Solwara mining lease was granted in January 2011.

A more recent Bloomberg report quoted Rogers as saying that Nautilus was talking to potential partners over selling a stake in the project and that Nautilus might sell $US100 million in shares if a deal did not eventuate.

But Rogers was more concerned about other uncertainties.

"Nautilus will only determine its precise additional funding requirements when it has finalised details of the vessel financing and secures a resolution to the current (joint venture) dispute with the PNG government," Rogers said.

"The company continues its efforts on both these matters. The project equipment build at the end of June was approximately 51% complete."

The PNG government has received some criticism from environmental groups because it has a 30% stake in the project through its state nominee Petromin PNG Holdings.

Chan told The National that recent media publicity was misleading - especially any claims that the Peter O'Neill government had initiated the project; that was done by the previous Somare government.

He reportedly said Nautilus and the government were complying with national and international laws.

In a separate report in the newspaper this morning, O'Neill further said that non-government organisations needed to substantiate their claims against the Solwara 1 project with facts.

"If the NGOs think that the project is not good they must come up with hard facts," O'Neill reportedly said.

"We have the Department of Environment that tries to ensure there is sustainable development. The department has engaged an internationally recognised firm to do environmental studies. We have some of the best mines in the world."

Nautilus is reportedly putting together an environmental management plan for the project.

Toronto-listed Nautilus aims to commission the seafloor production system at Solwara 1 by the end of 2013.

The Solwara 1 project is targeting an initial production rate of 1.2-1.3 million tonnes of dry ore, which is expected to equate to about 80,000 tonnes of copper and 150,000 ounces of gold per annum.

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