A multinational mining company has withdrawn its support from the Solwara 1 seabed mining project in Papua New Guinea.
In advance of its London annual general meeting today, Anglo American has confirmed it is divesting from the project, led by Canadian company Nautilus Minerals.
Nautilus plans to extract gold and copper from deep under the surface of PNG’s Bismarck Sea, but it has yet to complete it equipment requirements for beginning mining, amid signs that it is struggling for finance.
Anglo American has told the Deep Sea Mining Campaign that it has exited its investment in Solwara
The Campaign’s Dr Helen Rosenbaum, said the company indicated its minority stake in the project was inconsistent with its commitments to sustainability, human rights, and environmental stewardship.
Dr Rosenbaum said it was the latest sign that Nautilus’ project was floundering. The PNG government has a 15 percent equity stake in the project, and has been under pressure from environmentalists and local communities to not renew Nautilus’ license.
Late last year, community groups in New Ireland launched legal proceedings in a bid to obtain key documents around the Solwara 1 agreement.
They accuse the government of withholding information on the project’s approval and environmental impact reviews.
“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,” Dr Rosenbaum said.
Anglo American’s divestment comes after recent high profile opposition to the world’s first planned deep-sea mining project .
The British environmentalist broadcaster Sir David Attenborough described the Solwara 1 project as “deeply tragic.”
Nautilus’ recent investor updates revealed it was unable to raise the finance to complete the production equipment essential to its operational model.