MAC: Mines and Communities

Anglo American divests from Nautilus deep sea mining risks

Published by MAC on 2018-05-09
Source: Press release

The major mining multinational Anglo American has divested from the Solwara 1 deep sea mining project following concerted campaigning. (See previous articles at:

The news was first published in the Financial Times, which noted "Environmental campaigners have slammed the project, which is proposing to use three robotic machines weighing up to 310 tonnes to mine copper and gold from extinct hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor ... The underwater vehicles it wants to use were assembled in the north-east of England and have huge spikes like medieval cudgels that can tear through rock."

The divestment leaves Nautilus in an even more financially precarious position as the experimental project continues to be delayed.

Anglo American divests from Nautilus over risks of deep sea mining 

Deep Sea Mining Campaign Media Release

7 May 2018

Major mining company withdraws from high risk Solwara 1 deep sea mining project – will Nautilus Minerals go under before reaching the ocean floor?

In advance of their London AGM on 8th May, Anglo American has exclusively confirmed to the Deep Sea Mining Campaign that they have exited their investment in the Nautilus Minerals Solwara 1 deep sea mining project. [1]

Dr. Helen Rosenbaum, of the Deep Sea Mining Campaign said: “We are pleased that Anglo American engaged with us and listened to the concerns of coastal and islands communities in Papua New Guinea, whose environment and way of life would be devastated by Nautilus's proposed Solwara 1 mine."

Dr. Rosenbaum continued: "Anglo's decision to dump their minority stake in this controversial and floundering company was the only option consistent with their international commitments to sustainability, human rights, and environmental stewardship. Deep sea mining is financially and environmentally risky. The legitimacy of the Solwara 1 project has been questionable right from the outset with independent reviews highlighting significant flaws in the Solwara 1 Environmental Impact Statement." [2][3]

Legal action launched by Papua New Guinean communities will also answer questions about whether the Solwara 1 project was lawfully approved. In the meantime local communities have turned out in force at formal hearings held in PNG's New Ireland Province to object to the extension of Nautilus exploration licences. [4][5]

Anglo's decision reinforces the growing opposition to deep sea mining. Sir David Attenborough is the latest to add his voice against this hazardous and unnecessary emerging industry, describing the Solwara 1 project as “deeply tragic.” [6]

Andy Whitmore of the Deep Sea Mining Campaign, who will attend the Anglo American AGM noted that: “In terms of financial and reputational risk, Anglo American have chosen a good time to be exiting. But for Nautilus it looks like it could not have come at a worse time, and may well be the final nail in the coffin for this dangerous experiment.”

"The company continues to limp along with bridging loans from its two long term major shareholders - MB Holdings and Metalloinvest – while continuing to accumulate significant debt with interest payable at 8% per annum. One wonders how long this can continue and when these shareholders will be forced to pull the plug." [7]

Nautilus' recent investor updates reveals it is even unable to raise the finance to complete the Production Support Vessel essential to its operational model. The investor update notes “there can be no assurances that the Company will be successful in securing the necessary additional financing transactions within the required time or at all.”

For more info:

Andy Whitmore, Deep Sea Mining campaign +44 (0) 775 439 5597

Helen Rosenbaum, Deep Sea Mining Campaign +61 413201793


[1] The site for the proposed Solwara 1 mine is located the Bismarck Sea of Papua New Guinea, approximately 25 km from the coastline of New Ireland Province, about 35 km from Duke of York Islands and 60 km from Kokopo township in East New Britain.

[2] The writing is on the wall for Solwara 1 - PNG should withdraw its investment before it's too late, 17 January 2018.

[3] Independent Review of the Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Nautilus Minerals Solwara 1 Seabed Mining Project, Papua New Guinea, January 2009, Professor Richard Steiner, Oasis Earth ;
Out of our Depth: Mining the Ocean Floor in Papua New Guinea, November 2011. ;
Physical Oceanographic Assessment of the Nautilus Environmental Impact Statement for the Solwara 1 Project - An Independent Review, November 2012.

[4] Troubled Papua New Guinea deep-sea mine faces environmental challenge, The Guardian, 12 December 2018.

[5] Alliance of Solwara Warriors to object exploration license, Loop PNG, 25 February 2018.

[6] Sir David Attenborough backs campaign to ban seabed mining, BBC TV, 15 December 2017.

[7] Nautilus receives additional bridge loan and provides corporate update, Nautilus company release, 30 April 2018,

Anglo pulls support from Nautilus’ Solwara 1 project

Canadian Mining Journal -

7 May 2018

PAPUA NEW GUINEA – A day before its May 8 annual meeting, Anglo American said it is pulling out of the Solwara 1 deep ocean mining project run by Nautilus Minerals of Toronto. Nautilus has held exploration licences for polymetallic nodule accumulations near seafloor hydrothermal vents since 1997.

Anglo confirmed to Deep Sea Mining Campaign, supported by MiningWatch Canada, that it would exit its investment. The non-governmental organizations are opposed to mining the ocean floor for fear of the environmental damage that would be done.

Dr. Helen Rosenbaum of the Deep Sea Mining Campaign said, “Anglo’s decision to dump their minority stake in this controversial and floundering company was the only option consistent with their international commitments to sus

tainability, human rights, and environmental stewardship. Deep sea mining is financially and environmentally risky.”

Nautilus is trying to keep the project alive with bridge loans, but the future of deep sea mining is far from certain. See the company’s website at

Anglo American to end investment in deep sea mining company Nautilus

Reuters -

5 May 2018

Diversified miner Anglo American said on Friday it will end its investment in deep sea mining company Nautilus Mining.

"We are exiting our small minority shareholding in Nautilus, as part of the prioritisation of our portfolio on our largest and greatest potential resource assets," Anglo spokesman James Wyatt-Tilby said, confirming a report in the Financial Times.

Anglo has a 4 per cent stake in Toronto-listed Nautilus. Nautilus mines offshore in Papua New Guinea and Australia for minerals such as copper, gold, nickel and cobalt.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru and Zandi Shabalala in London Editing by Susan Fenton.

Anglo-American Exits Deep-Sea Mining Project

5 April 2018

Mining conglomerate Anglo-American confirmed Friday that it is ending its investment in Nautilus Mining, the Canadian deep-sea mineral recovery firm behind the Solwara 1 project.

Anglo-American once held about 10 percent of Nautilus' stock, but it has seen its share diluted by successive fundraising rounds over the past several years, and as of May it held just four percent of outstanding shares. Nautilus has been working to secure bridge loans to cover its significant capital needs until production begins, and it has issued additional shares in order to secure the funds. On April 30, Nautilus announced that it had obtained an additional $1.6 million bridge loan in exchange for about 6.8 million share warrants, bringing the total number of warrants issued to its lender to nearly 50 million. In a February assessment, Nautilus said that it needs to raise $243 million of capex funding until production commences

"We are exiting our small minority shareholding in Nautilus, as part of the prioritisation of our portfolio on our largest and greatest potential resource assets," said an Anglo-American spokesman in a statement.

The withdrawal of Anglo-American comes just as Nautilus was nearing the completion of equipment construction and testing. Its vessel, the Nautilus New Era, was launched at Mawei Shipyard in China in late March, and delivery is scheduled for the second quarter of 2019. The submerged testing of its robotic cutting tools was completed successfully in mid-February.

Nautilus' Solwara 1 site would be the first ever commercial seafloor copper-gold mine. The deposits at Solwara 1 are polymetallic sulfides that are rich in copper, gold and other valuable metals. Based on drilling results, Nautilus believes that there are about one million tons of ore containing seven percent copper, compared with the 0.5 percent copper found in everyday on-shore ore grades. The gold content comes in at 20 grams per ton, and zinc and silver are also present. Nautilus estimates production in the range of 20,000 tons of copper and 30,000 ounces of gold at steady-state production.




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