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Nautilus unveils spider-inspired sediment sampler

25th May 2018

By: Henry Lazenby

Creamer Media Deputy Editor: North America

     

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VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – Marine mining pioneer Nautilus Minerals has unveiled a new autonomous sediment sampler called the 'Nautilus Jumping Spider’ for use in sampling deep-sea deposits, that could cut exploration costs “by an order of magnitude”, the company reported on Thursday.

Nautilus said it has successfully completed the first trial of the insect-inspired creation. On landing on the seafloor, a mechanical trigger starts both the suction system that delivers sediment up the tubular legs and into the sample housing.

Then, the robot releases a biodegradable sacrificial ballast weight, before a deep-sea float lifts the sampler back to surface for later collection, using an integrated radio beacon.

Nautilus said it expects to test its extensive land positions in both Papua New Guinea and Tonga (which total an area larger than the land area of the UK) later this year and subject to financing.

Over the last several years, Nautilus and its technology partners have developed a suite of low-cost tools to assist with its exploration and development efforts, including remotely operated drills, self-potential and electromagnetic subsea geophysical systems, and various water column and seafloor geochemical sampling systems.

“Development of the new autonomous sampling tools continues to demonstrate the company’s commitment to industry leading innovation. Along with other exploration techniques, including seabed drilling, the team is looking to build a pipeline of projects and resources to feed our mobile mining system currently under construction,” CEO Mike Johnston stated in a news release.

Nautilus has previously demonstrated the effectiveness of low-cost grid sediment sampling in the highly sedimented East Manus basin, offshore Papua New Guinea. The challenge was to extend this technique to rocky low sedimented areas, with a further reduction in cost to allow for even more extensive sampling programmes, the company stated.

Nautilus recently announced that first production from its flagship Solwara 1 project, offshore Papua New Guinea, would be further delayed, as it continues to seek project financing and deals with a partner payment default on its production vessel, which is under construction in China.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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