In 2007, a submersible with a large drill descended 1,600 meters (5,250 feet) into the sea off the coast of Papua New Guinea (PNG), landing near a network of hydrothermal vents that host an array of rare and unique sea life. The machine operators, working for Canadian mining company Nautilus Minerals, Inc., began drilling into the seabed, searching for copper, gold, zinc and silver. In the years that followed, the company drilled again and again.

By 2019, Nautilus, the first company to ever receive a deep-sea mining license, had gone bankrupt before extracting any minerals, and the PNG government, which had invested in the project, was left with millions of dollars in debt.

The marine environment didn’t fare much better. Jonathan Mesulam, a resident of New Ireland province in PNG, located near a Nautilus project site, said his community experienced “serious impacts” when the company began exploring the seabed.

“We were worried because the mining is experimental, there are no examples anywhere in the world, and Papua New Guinea has no regulatory framework,” Mesulam said in a presentation he gave at a MiningWatch Canada conference in 2019. “Also, we knew that there is an active undersea volcano at that site, could it cause a tsunami? […]

Read more in Mongabay.