PNG Holds patents with Nautilus Minerals

Being the first undersea mine in the world will present additional benefits for the country as it holds its 30 per cent stake in the Solwara 1 project.
The additional benefit will come in the form of intellectual property concepts and systems developed in the project, which Nautilus Minerals CEO Mike Johnston said will attract royalties.
“Nautilus Minerals and the State of PNG, through their ownership in the Solwara 1 Joint Venture, hold a number of patents (exclusive rights) covering various aspects of our seafloor mining system.
“Some of these patents are owned in partnership with other major companies (such as SMD from the UK, and Technip from France). The patents protect the partners intellectual property or ideas that have been developed over many years.
“They act as serious barriers to competitors or groups that might be sitting on the sidelines, or moving slowly behind us waiting to see what deep sea mining will be like,” he said.
Mr Johnston said the patents define their mining machines and systems, registered initially throughout the world, and then “approved and granted” in specific countries like the United States, United Kingdom, China, Japan, and others.
“At each stage of the “filing” and approval process, there are modest fees that the Solwara 1 joint venture has had to pay.
“To date, we have paid around equivalent to K4 million to register and protect our intellectual property. This cost does not include the cost of developing and testing the ideas.
“Any other group wishing to do sea floor mining must either develop a new system, or strike some sort of deal (usually a royalty arrangement) with the patent holders if they wish to use a similar system,” he said.
Mr Johnston said valuing intellectual property remains difficult, however, there are numerous instances where the holders of a patent or a simple “registered idea” has resulted in the creation of significant value.
“The oceans contain the largest known resources of copper, nickel, cobalt, and manganese, on the entire planet, as well as significant quantities of gold, silver and zinc. All of these minerals are critical for the renewable energy and electric vehicle future that many people see the world rapidly heading towards.
“By 2030 the copper market alone is expected to have a value greater than USD$210 billion (K640 billion). If seafloor mining is able to provide 30 pe cent of this copper, as offshore oil and gas does to the world’s oil and gas markets, that’s a market of USD$60 billion (K183 billion), roughly four times PNG’s entire 2017 GDP,” he said.


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