NAUTILUS Minerals aims to raise up to C$103 million to advance construction and development of the Seafloor Production System which will be used to mine the seafloor at the Solwara 1 project in the Bismarck Sea off Papua New Guinea.

The company’s two largest shareholders, MB Holding Company and Metalloinvest Holding (Cyprus) Limited, which, together with their affiliates, hold approximately 48% of Nautilus, have each indicated their intention to participate in the offering by exercising all or a portion of their basic subscription privilege.

Nautilus’ CEO Mike Johnston said, “We have made significant progress in construction of our Seafloor Production System over the last 12 months. The rights offering will enable the company to continue to build momentum as we move closer to our goal of commencing seafloor operations by end of quarter one, 2018.”

The project is owned by the Solwara 1 Joint Venture, of which Nautilus holds 85% and the PNG Government’s Eda Kopa (Solwara) Limited the remainder. The JV has recently been advised that factory acceptance testing on the Subsea Slurry and Lift Pump (SSLP) has been undertaken at the GE Oil & Gas manufacturing facility in Houston, USA.

The SSLP and riser system transfer mineralised material as slurry from the ocean floor up onto the Production Support Vessel, where the mineralised solids are removed. The return water is then filtered to 8 microns and 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.

Mike Johnston said, “The SSLP is a key element of the production system and we look forward to successfully completing testing and taking delivery of the pump later this year.”

Earlier this year the JV took delivery of the three Seafloor Production Tools (SPTs) which will cut and extract high grade copper and gold from the seafloor. The SPTs were constructed at Soil Machine Dynamics Limited’s (SMD) facility in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and are undergoing extensive wet testing at Duqm Port in Oman.

Mike Johnston said, “I would like to make special mention of SMD, whose expertise in the design, operation and maintenance of deep water robotics, cutting and trenching equipment has been instrumental in development of the SPTs.”

SMD CEO Andrew Hodgson said, “SMD and parent company China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation Limited are leading the way in the construction of remote mining and deep sea excavation technology.”


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