Nautilus Minerals has received three seafloor production tools (SPTs) from Soil Machine Dynamics’s (SMD) facility in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK, for its underwater Solwara 1 mining project in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea (PNG).
The Solwara 1 joint venture consists of Nautilus with 85% and Eda Kopa (Solwara) with 15%.
The SPTs are set to undergo wet testing at Duqm Port in Oman and will be stored at United Engineering Services’ (UES) facilities in Duqm for preservation and maintenance.
Later on, they will be integrated on UES’s production support vessel (PSV), which is expected to occur in 2017.
Nautilus plans to use the SPTs to cut and extract copper and gold from the seafloor at the Solwara 1 JV’s project site in the Bismarck Sea, Papua New Guinea.
Seafloor production operations are planned to begin in the first quarter of 2018.
Nautilus Minerals CEO Mike Johnston said: "The Solwara 1 JV partners are delighted to have achieved this major milestone and we are looking forward to undertaking the extensive wet testing programme that we have planned.
"We look forward to continuing our relationship with SMD during the wet testing programme and into the production phase of the Solwara 1 project."
SMD CEO Andrew Hodgson said: "SMD, together with our parent company China Railway Rolling Stock, are leading the way in the construction of remote mining and deepsea excavation technology."
The Solwara 1 project development includes the recovery of high-grade seabed sulphide deposits from the floor of the Bismarck Sea, a major resource of base metal sulphides, gold and silver.
Image: The SPTs will undergo wet testing at Duqm Port in Oman. Photo: courtesy of Nautilus Minerals Inc.