Canadian mining company Nautilus Minerals has reached an agreement with the government of Papua New Guinea to begin mining an area of seabed believed to be rich in gold and copper ores, according to the BBC.
Under the terms of the agreement, Papua New Guinea will contribute $120 million to the operation and receive a 15 percent share in the mine.
Environmentalists say the mine will devastate the area and cause long-lasting damage to the environment. The BBC reports that “the mine will target an area of hydrothermal vents where superheated, highly acidic water emerges from the seabed, where it encounters far colder and more alkaline seawater, forcing it to deposit high concentrations of minerals.”
The report continues: The result is that the seabed is formed of ores that are far richer in gold and copper than ores found on land.
Mike Johnston, chief executive of Nautilus Minerals told the BBC “that a temperature probe left in place for 18 months was found to have ‘high grade copper all over it’.”
Nautilus announced in April that it had completed its bulk cutter, the first component of its Seafloor Production Tools system, which will be used to mine the seabed. Nautilus also approximately 500,000 square kilometres of “highly prospective exploration acreage” in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and Tonga, as well as in international waters in the eastern Pacific, the company said in a press release.
How a Canadian company will mine the sea bed near Papua New Guinea