MINING minster Byron Chan is full of confidence that Nautilus Minerals will be able to proceed with its drilling activities on the floor of the Bismarck Sea after a visit to the Soil Machine Dynamics (SMD) workshop in Newcastle, in the United Kingdom.

SMD is manufacturing and assembling the three seafloor mining tools needed for the offshore mining campaign.

These include the auxiliary cutter, responsible for creating the mining surface, the bulk cutter which mines the seafloor and the collector which loads the broken ore using vacuum action and pumps it into the riser.

In turn, the riser transfers the ore onto the shipping vessel where the ore is physically separated.

Impressed with the work, Mr Chan said it was satisfying to finally witness the seafloor mining tools fully assembled and nearing their final construction phase.

“I can say with confidence now that I have seen and witnessed the equipment myself that seafloor mining within the Bismarck Sea is soon to become a reality,” he said.

Mr Chan said when he took over the Ministry, the project had already been issued with a Mining Lease and therefore most of the equipment was only a design on paper.

“The advent of this technology being developed by Soil Machine Dynamics Ltd (SMD) of Newcastle here in the UK for Nautilus and the Government of PNG is nothing short of impressive and I commend SMD for their engineering and design expertise in delivering these tools,” he said.

“I take pride in the fact that we are not only developing these tools for ourselves but for all mankind who will benefit from their application in future and we the people of PNG are taking a leadership position in this new frontier of offshore mining,” he said.

The minister and his delegation comprising the Mineral Resources Authority (MRA) managing director Philip Samar, Secretary of Department of Mineral Policy Shadrach Himata and the PNG Country Manager for Nautilus Mel Togolo were taken on a tour of the SMD facility in Newcastle upon Tyne where the seafloor mining tools were being manufactured.

The visit was planned on the sidelines of the London Trade and Investment conference led by the Prime Minister.

The Minister also delivered his address to the more than 300 business executives who attended the one day investment conference.

Mr Chan assured the delegates in attendance that PNG was improving its regulatory framework whilst at the same time ensuring that investment is sustained, promoted and encouraged and welcomed investors to assist the government in broadening its extractive sector by diversifying its mineral base.

The investment and trade conference was a success given the fact that a good cross section of business executives from Europe and the UK were in attendance and Mr Chan indicated that he would be recommending to the Prime Minister that he leads such business forums to Europe every two years, the MRA said in a statement.