By Cecilia Jamasmie of mining.comCanada-based Nautilus Minerals Inc sank to fresh lows Wednesday in London, falling almost 5%, hit by the news of a Papua New Guinea’s landowners petition to the government to cancel the firm’s seabed mining permit.
The company, the first to explore the ocean floor for polymetallic massive sulphide deposits, was granted a mining lease by the PNG authorities in January 2011, following the environmental permit award in December 2009.
But the mine developer has been swimming in choppy waters ever since.
It faces critics from the environmentalist and the marine biologist community as per the consequences of its Solwara 1 gold, copper and silver project.
The company has also been locked in a dispute with the government of the South East Asian nation since June over ownership of the project, located in the Bismarck Sea.
Over 20,000 signatures submitted to PNG Mining Minister Byron Chan by residents from the provinces of Madang, Oro and New Britain, stating that they don’t want the project to go ahead, reports Radio New Zealand.
Locals insist they have seen dead fish washing up on beaches and that the water has been polluted by the exploration work.
The Canadian mine developer was granted a 20-year permit by the government of Michael Somare to mine an area in the Bismarck Sea to a depth of 1.6 kilometres.
Nautilus has said it plans to begin extracting minerals from the Solwara 1 deposit in 2014.
The new PNG government, led by Peter O’Neill, is reportedly challenging the deal and wants to make a number of amendments, according to Radio New Zealand.
Shareholder in Nautilus have seen the value of their investments plummet by more than half since the company initiated the legal battle on June 1 over Solwara.