Seafloor Massive Sulphide Resource Production – Development of the world’s next offshore frontier
Nautilus Minerals’, the world’s leader in exploration and development of deep ocean seafloor resources, is today focused on the recovery of high-grade copper and gold in seafloor massive-sulphide mineralization. These mineralized belts, analogous to land based volcanogenic massive sulphide deposits, are located near tectonic plate boundaries of the Western Pacific.
The first deposit to be developed by the company is located at a depth of 1,600 meters at Solwara 1, in the benign waters of the Bismarck Sea. This location lies within the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea. From 2006 to 2009 the company completed detailed environmental and geological studies at Solwara 1, culminating in a number of world firsts, including the first Approval in Principle granted by the PNG Department of Environment and Conservation for the extraction of seafloor massive sulphide deposits and the first NI 43-101 compliant seafloor massive sulphide deposit resource statement.
Nautilus has relied heavily on proven deepwater technologies from the oil and gas industry in the design of its mining system. Pipeline trenching units, workclass ROVs, deepwater production risers and drill cuttings removal systems will be adapted to initiate this new and exciting industry. Key contractors used by Nautilus on this innovative project have all been selected for their deepwater experience (gained in the oil and gas industry), creativity and determination to launch this new industry successfully.
Innovation is at the forefront of Nautilus’ success to date. This paper summarises the progress to date of this development which will provide a new source of minerals for the world and which will contribute to sustainable growth for the future.