TORONTO (miningweekly.com) – Prospective marine miner Nautilus Minerals on Thursday formed a joint venture (JV) company with Papua New Guinea’s (PNG’s) nominee Eda Kopa (Solwara) to mine high-grade polymetallic seafloor massive sulphide deposits at 1 600 m below the surface of the Bismarck Sea, offshore PNG, within the Western Pacific Ocean’s Rim of Fire.
Nautilus formed the JV after receiving $113-million that had been placed into escrow in May, after completing the sale of 15% of its Solwara 1 project, to Eda Kopa.
"We are excited to have achieved completion under our agreement and to formally start our partnership in the Solwara 1 project with the State’s nominee, a wholly owned subsidiary of Petromin PNG Holdings,” Nautilus CEO Mike Johnston said.
The focus of the project would shift to complete building the seafloor production equipment and vessel so that Nautilus could make seafloor mining a reality.
Nautilus had entered into an agreement with Marine Assets Corporation in November to charter a vessel to be deployed at the Solwara 1 project. The JV expected to take delivery of the vessel late in 2017.
Nautilus planned to use three huge robots, one of which had already been built in Britain and weighed about 310 t. The machines would cut into the seafloor with 4-m-wide claws, break the rock and collect it in a slurry that would be piped to a support vessel.
The remaining water and rock would be sent back down another pipe nearly all the way back to the ocean floor.