Sea of blame washes over green groups

THE Papua New Guinea government has blamed pressure brought by environmental groups for failure to pay its share in the world’s first ocean-bed copper-gold mine.
Sea of blame washes over green groups Sea of blame washes over green groups Sea of blame washes over green groups Sea of blame washes over green groups Sea of blame washes over green groups

Mining Minister Byron Chan said non-government organisations and landowners wanted the state to negotiate better terms of benefits from Nautilus Minerals' Solwara 1 project.

The miner won an arbitration case against the PNG government last year but the state has so far refused to pay the funds owed to complete its 30% stake in the copper-gold project in the Bismarck Sea.

Nautilus terminated its agreement with the PNG government last month after the state failed to pay $US118 million ($A125 million) for its share, but said it would continue to "seek an amicable resolution of the dispute with the state".

Chan told The National: "The delay is due to pressure from environment-focused non-governmental organisations, landowners and the provincial government's concern in which the deep sea mining would take place.

"They want the government to negotiate better terms in benefit sharing when the project gets underway," the newspaper reported.

"The state owes about K285 million to Toronto-based Nautilus Minerals from its 30% participating interest in the company's Solwara 1 project off the coast of New Ireland and East New Britain provinces.

"Nautilus, in response to the state's hesitation, recently announced a cessation of the agreement, three years after the initial state equity option agreement was signed by both parties in March 2011.

"The company has now filed for damages against the state.

"The retribution cost on the state may surpass the initial K285 million should the state be found to be in breach of the contract placing more burden on the government to source funds to meet the cost.

"The state will still have a say as government regardless of it losing on the participating interest."

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