Canada-based Nautilus Minerals is creating a new joint venture (JV) company to finance the acquisition of a production support vessel (PSV) for the Solwara 1 seafloor mining project, in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea.
The prospective marine miner said this week that it was in negotiations with various parties to enable the acquisition of the PSV to facilitate the proposed Vessel JV.
Nautilus had to refinance the vessel purchase after the contractor that it previously engaged to procure the vessel, MAC Goliath, failed to pay Chinese shipyard builder Fujian Mawei.
The company said that the shipyard had continued to install components of its seafloor production equipment on the PSV, with the latest being the installation of an operating console in mid-November.
Nautilus previously reported that the final delivery schedule for the vessel was March 2019, which, should final funding be secured, would see mining operations start towards the end of that year.
A peak production rate of about 3 200 t/d is planned. The conceptual plan envisions recovery of an estimated 130 000 t of copper and 180 000 oz of gold from Solwara 1.
Further, Nautilus reported that it was in discussions with its lender Deep Sea Mining Finance to extend the January 8 maturity date of the existing secured loan facility to allow for the potential Vessel JV transaction to progress.