VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – Marine mining hopeful Nautilus Minerals will shortly start submerged testing of its fleet of seafloor production tools, following the equipment’s arrival in Papua New Guinea (PNG).
"We are delighted to be undertaking submerged trials in PNG. The trials will result in money and investment going into the PNG economy, and the employment of Papua New Guineans using 'state of the art' technology, which are some of the key benefits of seafloor production. The trials also allow us to work closely with our partner Petromin, government officers from the various government agencies, as well as representatives from the provincial governments of New Ireland and East New Britain,” CEO Mike Johnston said on Monday.
The submerged trials will happen in an existing facility on Motukea Island, near Port Moresby in PNG.
The company last month said it remained on track to achieve production from the Solwara 1 project, offshore PNG in the Bismarck Sea, in the first quarter of 2019. The company’s objective is to develop the world's first commercial high-grade seafloor copper/gold mine and launch the seafloor resource production industry.
Nautilus formed a joint venture company with PNG’s nominee, Eda Kopa (Solwara), in December 2014 to mine high-grade polymetallic seafloor massive sulphide deposits. Nautilus has an 85% shareholding and Eda Kopa 15%.
Nautilus in September announced a revised work programme, pending the company successfully raising the required capital by June. It entails a more staged approach, moving the Nautilus equipment integration phase of vessel construction out until after the vessel has been delivered by Fujian Mawei Shipyard and Marine Assets Corporate in the fourth quarter of 2018, resulting in a 12-month delay to the original schedule.