The order for the cargo handling equipment to be used on Nautilus Minerals’ production support vessel has been awarded to Italian company Bedeschi SPA. It is the second major equipment contract to be awarded by the shipyard, Fujian Mawei Shipbuilding Ltd.

The state-of-the-art cargo handling system will be used on the production support vessel to load the dewatered material into four storage holds and is designed to recover the material from the storage holds and transfer it directly to a handymax vessel for shipment of the material to China.

The use of the Bedeschi system therefore reduces the costs associated with material handling from that originally expected for such costs; and eliminates the need for multiple handling of material, which improves the safety of marine operations around the vessel.

Nautilus’ CEO Mike Johnston said: “We are excited to be building relationships with such a long established and reputable world-class supplier to the global port and shipping industries, as we work toward the completion of our first vessel.”

Last year Nautilus announced it had entered into an agreement with Marine Assets Corporation (MAC), for the charter of a vessel to be first deployed for use at the Solwara 1 Project and that MAC had entered into a contract with Fujian Mawei Shipbuilding Ltd, to design and construct the vessel in accordance with Nautilus’ specifications.

The vessel will first serve as the operational base to extract and transport high grade copper and gold material from the project site, in the Bismarck Sea of Papua New Guinea, after funding is obtained for completion of the development of the project.

When completed, the vessel will measure 227 metres in length and 40 metres in width with accommodation for up to 180 people and generate approximately 31MW of power. All of the below deck mining equipment will be installed in the vessel during the build process to minimize the equipment integration to be completed following delivery of the vessel. The vessel is expected to be delivered by the end of 2017.

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.

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