Umbilical Winches

Rolls-Royce is to supply six of its new diesel generator sets to a seabed mining vessel, which is being built to extract copper, gold and silver and ore off the coast of Papua New Guinea.

According to the company, the mining vessel is being built at China’s Fuijan Mawei shipyard for Dubai’s Marine Assets (MAC) and has been designed by Singapore’s SeaTech Solutions.

A landmark agreement will see the UK engineering company power the 227m-long, 40m-wide seabed mining ship with its new B33:45 medium-speed diesel generator sets.

The ship is expected to be delivered towards the end of 2017.

Operating under long-term charter to Nautilus Minerals at the Solwara 1 project in the Bismarck Sea, the mining ship will be used to extract the high grade metals from the seabed in water depths of 1,600m.

"We have a long history of using Rolls-Royce power and propulsion equipment, so we know the vessel will perform well."

Nautilus has been advised by Soil Machine Dynamics (SMD) that the umbilical winches for the three Seafloor Production Tools (SPTs) have completed factory acceptance testing.

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The Solwara 1 winches are about 85t and manage the feed–out and recovery of the SPTs’ umbilicals.

Marine Assets Corporation chief operating officer Mark Reeves said: "We have a long history of using Rolls-Royce power and propulsion equipment, so we know the vessel will perform well.

"Site surveys and sampling has proven that the subsea mining sector can be extremely lucrative compared to land mining, with mineral content per tonne of ore considerably higher than land-based mines."

Rolls-Royce Commercial Marine president John Knudsen said: "This contract is a major step forward in the development of our new family of medium-speed engines designed to suit a wide range of ship types.

"Deep-sea mining is an exciting new industry, and with our extensive pedigree in the offshore business, we look forward to working with Marine Assets Corporation and their partners in enabling them to become first movers in the extraction of valuable minerals from the seabed."

Each B33:45 engine will feature Tier III-compliant selective catalyst reduction technology and offer a 20% increase in power a cylinder, while fuel consumption, emissions and through-life operating costs are reduced.

In addition to delivering the six nine-cylinder engines to the Fuijan Mawei yard from March 2016, Rolls-Royce will also supply three underwater mountable thrusters, two retractable Azimuth thrusters and two bow thrusters.

Image: The Solwara 1 winches are approximately 85t. Photo: courtesy of Nautilus Minerals.