TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Aspirant seafloor miner Nautilus Minerals announced that it was to raise C$34-million to complete the development of its proprietary seafloor production system, which it intends to use in its Solwara 1 copper/gold project off the coast of Papua New Guinea (PNG).
The placement would involve issuing about 37.7-million shares to a number of investors at a price of 90 Canadian cents a share.
Nautilus president and CEO Steve Rogers said the private placement would provide funds to continue the build of key pieces of equipment, such as the seafloor production tools, and riser and lift system.
"At the end of June, the major equipment items of the system were 51% complete, and a significant percentage of the subcomponents have been delivered," Rogers said on Wednesday.
Existing Nautilus strategic shareholders, MB Holdings, Metalloinvest and Anglo American were participating in the private placement.
Rogers said that there was strong support from the major shareholders for the company to maintain the build programme for the system and ensure the realisation of deep-sea resource production as an industry.
The company is currently embroiled in a legal spat with the PNG government over contractual issues.
Nautilus had initiated a dispute resolution process by filing a notice of arbitration against the PNG government on June 1, owing to a disagreement about the parties' obligations in the completion of the contract and alleging that the State had not paid its share of project development costs.
But the PNG government countered by asserting that Nautilus had not met certain obligations on which completion of the transaction was dependent, arguing that the company had breached the agreement and that the State was entitled to terminate the agreement.
Nautilus refuted these claims, maintaining that it was the State that had breached the agreement.
The two parties had now agreed on the appointment of former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, the Honourable Murray Gleeson, as the arbitrator.
The arbitration would be conducted in Sydney, Australia, under the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law’s arbitration rules, and might take several months to conclude, provided that Nautilus and the State comply with the timetable set by the arbitrator and otherwise acted within the rules.