Papua New Guinea Mines Minister Ano Pala told The National newspaper the government would be reviewing the possibility of giving Deep Sea access to the Solwara 1 massive sulphide deposits off New Ireland Province.
And the move appears to have the support of New Ireland Province. A statement from the provincial government confirmed that Governor Julius Chan had discussions with Deep Sea executives.
"The team from Deep Sea was led by its chief executive officer, Chris Jordinson, including technical service manager Glen Jones, offshore exploration project manager Anthony Manocchio and Nautilus Minerals country manager Paul Lahari," the statement said.
The statement added that Jordinson said his team had met with Pala and the Mineral Resources Authority in Port Moresby.
"The dialogue between the company and New Ireland government is vital as they are responsible for the local impacted communities of the proposed Solwara 1 project off West Coast New Ireland.
"The New Ireland Provincial Government has suggested to the Deep Sea to conduct proper awareness with the locals on the proposed project including engaging an independent scientist to evaluate possible environmental impacts and give confidence to the local people that the project will not in any way affect their livelihood," the statement concluded.
In Deep Sea's sights are the high-grade copper-gold deposits contained in massive sulphides on the sea floor.
Palo told local media that more discussions with Deep Sea would take place.
On its website, Deep Sea says it now has "full ownership of interests and rights to Solwara 1, key assets, intellectual property, and subsidiaries and is well-positioned to progress Solwara 1 into commercial production.
"Post restructuring, Deep Sea has emerged as a leading developer of deep-sea mining IP via its ownership of around 12 key patents in areas of seafloor exploration, seafloor production, recovery and lifting.
"With over 400 seabed massive sulphide systems worldwide as attractive targets for possible commercial exploitation, Deep Sea has first mover's advantage to access a substantial deep-sea mining pipeline.
"Deep Sea has already secured the exploration rights to 19 prospective massive sulphide systems in PNG and 25 systems in the Kingdom of Tonga. The expertise built up in these positions will allow expansion of a portfolio of prospects rapidly as business develops.
"Deep Sea is continuing to develop technology, including in the area of subsea mineral exploration. This includes the development of low-cost autonomous regional sampling equipment for seafloor massive sulphides and of a low-cost rapid scout drilling rig."