Data and analytical results from samples collected during the exploration program conducted aboard the R/V Mt Mitchell vessel over Nautilus Minerals’ Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) project in the South Pacific has confirmed the grade and extent of the nodule deposit.
Nautilus’ CEO and director of its 100%-owned subsidiary Tonga Offshore Mining Limited (TOML), Mike Johnston says, “The consistently high grades of the samples qualitatively support the grade of elements reported in our March 2013 NI 43-101 technical report, with these assay results suggesting potential for other elements such as molybdenum and rare earth elements (REE) as by-products.
“The multibeam echo-sounder (MBES) and backscatter results further support the continuous nature of mineralization across our entire contract area, including Area E and Area F, which were not part of the current inferred resource estimate, but which area represents around 30% of the total TOML contract area.
“We have sufficient samples to complete our initial metallurgical studies. This work will also be supported by preliminary engineering studies on key elements of the materials handling system.”
Approximately 64,000sqkm of MBES and backscatter were collected using a Kongsberg EM120 (12kHz) Multibeam echo-sounder over about 85% of the granted contract area. The data allows for detailed geological mapping of terranes, seafloor composition, and nodule distribution and relative nodule abundance. The results of this work will be used to focus future work.
Analysis of the nodules was done by two leading laboratories, with techniques refined so as to apply to the nodules’ physical and chemical nature. A multi-element analysis method has now been developed, which will be used for future nodule sampling programs and to support any future mineral resource updates.
Nautilus is the first company to explore the ocean floor for polymetallic seafloor massive sulphide deposits. Nautilus 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. The company has also been granted its environmental permit for this site.
Nautilus also holds approximately 500,000sqkm of highly prospective exploration acreage in the western Pacific; in PNG, the Solomon Islands, Fiji, Vanuatu and Tonga, as well as in international waters in the eastern Pacific.