Deep seabed Solwara 1 project can reduce copper mine environmental impacts, says report

2 June 2015 (Last Updated June 2nd, 2015 18:30)

An independent Environmental and Social Benchmarking analysis on Nautilus Minerals' Solwara 1 project has concluded that it has the potential to reduce social and environmental impacts associated with large surface terrestrial copper mines.

An independent Environmental and Social Benchmarking analysis on Nautilus Minerals' Solwara 1 project has concluded that it has the potential to reduce social and environmental impacts associated with large surface terrestrial copper mines.

Nautilus Minerals commissioned Earth Economics to conduct analysis of the proposed seafloor copper-gold mine Solwara 1 project.

According to the company, the report compares the social and environmental impacts of the project with three terrestrial mines, which are Bingham Canyon in Utah, US, Prominent Hill, South Australia, and a proposed mine in Intag Province, Ecuador.

The report found that world demand for copper continues to rise and recycling is likely limited to around 35% of the copper supply.

"Commissioning this report is part of our ongoing process to review, estimate and evaluate project impacts through objective third-party experts."

In addition, the report highlights that seafloor mining produces more copper with fewer natural capital inputs and has the potential to reduce the impact of copper mining.

When compared to the terrestrial mines, the deep seabed project is claimed to have a smaller environmental and social impact.

Compared to the proposed Solwara 1 project, the monetary damages resulting from terrestrial mines are estimated to be greater.

Solwara 1 does not consist of the long-term mining liabilities for freshwater contamination, tailings and overburden failures, the report noted.

Nautilus Minerals CEO Mike Johnston said: "We believe that the proposed Solwara 1 project will launch a new frontier in the blue economy and resource sector.

"Commissioning this report is part of our ongoing process to review, estimate and evaluate project impacts through objective third-party experts."

Located in the Bismarck Sea of Papua New Guinea, the proposed deep seabed Solwara 1 project is expected to begin operations in the first half of 2018 after securing the required financing.