Assembly of the second of three Seafloor Production Tools (SPTs), the Collecting Machine (CM), for Nautilus Minerals’ seafloor mining projects commenced last week at Soil Machine Dynamics’ (SMD) facility at Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. 

Nautilus’ CEO Mike Johnston says, “Having already announced in April, the completion of the assembly of the Bulk Cutter (BC), we are delighted that the assembly of the CM has now commenced, with the arrival of the chassis at the SMD facility.

“This is an exciting time for the company as we continue with the build of the seafloor production equipment. We look forward to the commencement of the assembly of the third and final SPT, the Auxiliary Cutter (AC), when its chassis is delivered in June.”

The CM is the lightest of the three SPTs weighing 200 tonnes when fully assembled. It is designed to collect material cut from the seafloor by drawing it in as seawater slurry with internal pumps and pushing it through a flexible pipe to the Riser and Lifting System (RALS) and onto the Production Support Vessel (PSV), arrangements for which are to be in place by the end of the year.

Subsea vehicle designer and manufacturer, SMD of Newcastle upon Tyne, is the company responsible for building the SPTs for Nautilus.

The excavation and collection of mineralized material has been split into three individual tasks, which will each be carried out by a different SPT. The AC is designed as the pioneering tool which prepares the rugged sea bed for the more powerful BC. These two tools gather the excavated material; the third, the CM, will collect the cut material by drawing it in as seawater slurry with internal pumps and pushing it through a flexible pipe to the subsea pump and on to the PSV via the RALS.

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. www.nautilusminerals.com