“Solwara One will be the first deep sea mine in the world and Papua New Guinea has taken a bold step forward into what will be a new industry.
Papua New Guinea has chosen to be at the forefront of this new industry and that is something that I think that everyone here can be proud of. This deep sea mining will be the future of mining,” said Nautilus Minerals Inc. vice president, Adam Wright.
However, pioneering the game changing technology that hopes to revolutionise the mining industry has come with a hefty price tag. The initial capital investment made by Nautilus Minerals Inc. has been valued at roughly US$580 million (K1.8billion).
Operating in a low, to zero visibility environment and water pressure up to 280 bars, Solwara One has come with its fair share of challenges, but after 10 years of research and experimentation, Nautilus Minerals has the utmost confidence that the project will be a success.
Nautilus Minerals Inc. has already invested in three, 320 ton machines that will be responsible for the mining and collection of minerals from the seafloor which are already completed and are in country.
Also completed is the pump and riser which have been fabricated in US in Houston while the Production Support Vessel which is being constructed in a dockyard in China is nearing completion.
The mine site itself, is situated 1.6km below sea level, in the middle of the St George channel between East New Britain and New Ireland provinces.
According to Mr Wright, Solwara One will lead the way, for similar project not just in country but around the globe.
“Before the 1960s oil was only found on land and there were only terrestrial operations mining oil, but slowly during the 1960’s oil was starting to be found offshore and people began mining offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. After about 10-20 years, a third of all the oil in the world was being mined offshore,” Mr Wright said.
“We think the same thing will now happen with mining. This will be the first mine that’s offshore and in years to come, perhaps 20 years from now, there will be many mines offshore.