Source: the Guardian
Each of the three mining machines outweighs the 200-ton blue whale – the largest animal the world has ever known – and they look fearsome, especially the bulk-cutter designed to grind up the ocean floor with its enormous roller, covered in spikes.
If all goes as planned, come 2019 these giant remote-controlled robots will steamroll across the bottom of the Bismarck Sea off the coast of Papua New Guinea, chewing it up in pursuit of rich copper and gold reserves for a Canadian company called Nautilus Minerals. Nautilus chief executive Michael Johnston is anxious to demonstrate something besides making handsome profits. He also wants to show that his company has designed the mining expedition to have a small environmental footprint, especially when compared to the land-based counterpart.
“People have a view of mining, and they think we’re going to transport that view into the ocean, and it’s going to be ugly,” says Johnston, a soft-spoken New Zealand native and a 30-year veteran of mining.