CANADIAN explorer Nautilus Minerals has signed a contract with Gardline CGG Pte Ltd to provide exploration services for its 2015 program in the Solomon Islands. The vessel MV Duke will be used to generate targets to expand Nautilus’ Seafloor Massive Sulphide (SMS) prospect inventory within its Solomon Islands exploration licences.

Nautilus’ CEO Mike Johnston says: “We are excited to be back on the water this year, focused on adding to our high grade SMS prospect inventory by applying the successful high tech exploration techniques we have been refining since 2006. This is the second time we have been supported by Gardline in our exploration efforts and we look forward to continuing our relationship with them.”

The contract with Gardline CGG is for 43 days of services, mobilizing from Brisbane, Australia on or about April 25, 2015. The program will define SMS targets using efficient multi-beam echo sounder and plume hunting techniques.

Plume hunting is a regional geochemical technique involving the discovery of metal-rich plumes of material that are ejected into the water column from prospective areas, by natural geological processes.

The primary objective of this program is to discover further mineralized systems to support the company’s business model. Amongst its many anticipated advantages, seafloor resource production will allow the aggregation of resources from multiple mineralized systems without the need for significant additional capital.

The MV Duke vessel, which will be used for this program, is a 67 metre-long, 2031 gross tonne survey vessel, originally built in 1983 and then extensively refitted in 1998 by A/S Vaagen Vert, Norway. The vessel is equipped with a hull-mounted Kongsberg EM302 multi-beam system, a state of the art seafloor mapping system that provides some of the highest quality seafloor mapping data available.

Gardline CGG Pte Ltd is a joint venture formed between Gardline and CGG. Drawing from the experience and expertise of each of its parent companies, Gardline CGG offers a wide range of fully integrated, multidisciplinary marine site survey and 2D and 3D exploration seismic survey capabilities. Headquartered in Singapore to primarily service the Asia-Pacific region, Gardline CGG offers its range of multi-disciplinary capability for world-wide deployments.

Nautilus is the first company to explore the ocean floor for polymetallic seafloor massive sulphide deposits. It 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.