In situ assessment of initial seafloor massive sulfide mining operation in Papua New Guinea using a cabled autonomous underwater vehicle system: a proposition
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[author abstract] This project is a critical analysis of the impacts of the first effort to mine seafloor massive sulfide deposits (SMS). It will be linked to a proposal for assessment, and mitigation, of the negative impacts. Mining of SMS deposits is clearly being planned and because it is virtually unstudied it is important to evaluate this new frontier. Within the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is a hydrothermal ridge system with massive sulfide deposits being evaluated for mineral extraction subsea. Of these particular sulfide deposits, Solwara 1, which is the soonest to being mined, has been explored as a potential source of copper and other metals. PNG has allocated the rights of the area to a Canadian mining company, Nautilus Minerals. The objective of this scientific project is twofold: to investigate impacts of mining on the ecology surrounding Solwara 1, and to explore the economic ramifications for PNG and Nautilus Minerals when mining for SMS commences. This scientific study aims to identify ways to optimize the intended benefits, and to minimize the potentially negative impacts. The outcome of this study is to recommend placing an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) near Solwara 1 so PNG can monitor impacts during and after mining operations are complete.