CONSTRUCTION of specialized equipment needed for Nautilus Minerals to carry out seafloor mining at the Solwara 1 project is continuing at a steady pace. In recent months Nautilus has received a constant flow of information regarding progress.

In late March it was advised by Soil Machine Dynamics Limited that the umbilical winches for the three Seafloor Production Tools (SPTs) had successfully completed Factory Acceptance Testing (FAT). It was also advised by GE Oil and Gas that it will recommence assembly of the Subsea Slurry and Lift Pump (SSLP) in July.

Regarding the winches, Nautilus’ CEO Mike Johnston says, “Completion of FAT on the umbilical winches marks another significant step in the journey towards seafloor mining in 2018. The winches are ready for installation of the umbilical cable. When this task is completed the winches will be dispatched to the shipyard for integration on to the vessel.”

The winches are about 85 tonnes and manage the feed-out and recovery of the SPTs’ umbilicals. There is one winch for each SPT. The winches store 2500 metres of armoured umbilical, with the umbilical providing the power and control systems to the SPTs through copper wire and fibre optic cables embedded within armoured casing. The umbilical winches will be installed on the Production Support Vessel (PSV).

The umbilicals were designed and adapted for Nautilus’ use by German company Norddeutsche Seekabelwerke.

Regarding the SSLP, Mike Johnston says, “We are delighted to have been advised that the SSLP will be coming out of storage shortly and its assembly will recommence in July. This is a key piece of equipment in Nautilus’ plan to produce copper, gold and other metals from the deep ocean, with a very small environmental footprint.”

The SSLP and riser system transfers the mineralized material as slurry from the deep ocean up onto the PSV, where mineralized solids are removed. The filtered return water is transferred back down to the pump via the auxiliary riser pipes where it is released back into the same environment from which it originally came from.

Also in March Nautilus was advised that the order for cargo handling equipment to be used on the PSV had been awarded to Italian company Bedeschi SPA. It was the second major equipment contract awarded by the shipyard, Fujian Mawei Shipbuilding. The cargo handling system will be used on the PSV to load dewatered material into four storage holds and then transfer it to a handymax vessel.

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