Monday, 8 February 2010
Newcastle Papua Solidarity
SMD; of Hadrian Road, Newcastle; are completing a £33m contract to build two seafloor mining systems comprising two Seafloor Mining Tools (SMT) , umbilical systems, surface power and control systems and a single deck handling system. The contract is worth in excess of £30 million, making it one of SMD’s largest, and will run until early 2010. They are for the world's first project to mine seafloor copper, zinc gold and silver. This is the removal of the chimneys of hydrothermal vents in 1,500 meters of water in Papua New Guinea.
To be clear, SMS deposits is a synonymous term for black smoker hydrothermal vents. The goal of the company is to extract the chimneys, rich in valuable minerals, from hydrothermal vents.
... The obvious first question is whether Nautilus will operate in a more environmentally cautious manner than its shareholders or former company historically has.
... Craig Cary, a marine biologist at the University of Delaware in Newark, says the prospect is unthinkable because of the potential effects on marine life. “If I was in charge of reviewing permit requests there would be some serious questions to answer. Metal sulphides are nasty substances – how are they going to deal with that?” In Science Magazine’s Policy Forum, Jochen Halfar and Rod Fujita (Environmental Defense) wrote on the “Danger of Deep-sea Mining”. They cite sediment plumes, nutrient loads to oligotrophic surface waters, and toxic effects to the water column among their primary concerns. The Australia-based Mineral Policy Institute noted “There is little or no independent oversight of companies’ activities. Exploration activity… is not subject to appropriate regulation and control. This is a grave issue in this case as the areas targeted by these companies coincide with what has been identified as biodiversity hotspots in the region.”
The vents are 50 km north of Rabaul township, where the the Bougainville environmental revolutionaries negotiated their victory in the Organic Law for Autonomy. The people of Bougainville are one of the few groups of indigenous people to have shut down a mine owned by one of the mining giants of the world. Throughout the South Pacific, and indeed the world, this mineral-rich island with a population of only 160,000 has inspired those struggling for freedom and self-determination. Refusing to be bought off with paltry compensation offers, Bougainvilleans have often paid with their lives to defend their land, culture, environment and freedom.
SMD awarded contract for seafloor mining tools
Nautilus subsea mining system
Inflexion acquires subsea vehicle specialist SMD