An updated technical report has been completed at Nautilus Minerals’ Clarion-Clipperton Zone (CCZ) project in the Pacific Ocean, however the 410 million tonne inferred resource remains unchanged from the original report announced in September last year.
The updated report provides additional information on methodology, data verification and mineralization, as well as several additional maps and figures for the CCZ site located between Hawaii and Mexico, which hosts significant deposits of polymetallic nodules.
The nodules occur in water depths generally between 4000 and 6000 metres. They contain significant grades of manganese, nickel, copper and cobalt, and form by the precipitation of metals on the seafloor, either directly from ocean waters or via decomposing microorganisms and/or their effluent in benthic sediments.
Nautilus president Steve Rogers says, “We are hugely excited to be leading the development of this enormous, currently untapped potential on the seafloor. With the immense polymetallic nodule mineral resources of the CCZ, we have to start the engineering and evaluation processes now to realize this opportunity at the appropriate time in the future.
“There is the potential for a further update of this mineral resource estimate, in that approximately 30% of our licence area is not included in the estimate, but both of these areas are known to have nodules present from limited sampling work carried out to date."
The Canadian company is prioritizing its focus on the high grade Solwara 1 seafloor massive sulphide (SMS) project and other prospective SMS systems in PNG and Tonga. Nautilus is the first company to explore the ocean floor for polymetallic SMS deposits and was granted the first mining lease for such deposits at the prospect known as Solwara 1, in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea, where it is aiming to produce copper, gold and silver.
In February 2012, Nautilus subsidiary Tonga Offshore Mining (TOML) became one of the first private sector companies to be granted exploration rights in international waters, after signing a contract with the International Seabed Authority (ISA) for tenements in the CCZ.
The agreement gives TOML exclusive rights to carry out exploration activities in the 75,000sqkm zone, which hosts major deposits of polymetallic nodules that are rich in copper, nickel, manganese and cobalt. Exploration licences for the tenements will expire in 2026.