Assembly of Nautilus Minerals’ third and final Seafloor Production Tool (SPT), the Auxiliary Cutter (AC), has commenced at Soil Machine Dynamics’ (SMD) facility at Newcastle upon Tyne, UK.
Nautilus’ CEO Mike Johnston says, “We are pleased that the assembly of the AC, the third and final of the three SPTs has commenced, with the arrival of the chassis at the SMD facility. The next milestone for the SPTs will be the commencement of Factory Acceptance Testing on the already assembled Bulk Cutter (BC).”
The AC will weigh 250 tonnes when fully assembled. It is a preparatory machine that deals with rough terrain and creates benches for the other SPTs to work. It will operate on tracks with spud assistance and has a boom-mounted cutting head for flexibility.
Subsea vehicle designer and manufacturer, SMD of Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, 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 seabed for the more powerful BC. These two tools gather the excavated material while the other, the Collecting Machine, 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 Production Support Vessel via the Riser and Lift System.
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 about 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. www.nautilusminerals.com