Canada-based ocean floor mining company Nautilus Minerals has signed an agreement to charter a vessel for its Solwara 1 project, off the coast of Papua New Guinea, where it plans to mine copper, gold and silver.

Following the delivery, the vessel will act as an operational base for the joint venture (JV) project, to transport copper and gold from the Bismarck Sea on the Papua New Guinea coast.

Solwara 1 JV will be formed between Nautilus and the nominee of Papua New Guinea, Eda Kopa (Solwara), a subsidiary of Petromin PNG Holdings.

Nautilus will charter the vessel for a minimum period of five years at a rate of $199,910 per day and the company will have an option to charter or purchase the vessel after five years. Dubai-based marine solution provider Marine Assets will own and manage the vessel.

"[We] look forward to working with MAC and the shipyard in seeing the delivery of our first vessel and making seafloor mining a reality." 

Nautilus CEO Mike Johnston said: "We are excited to achieve this significant milestone and secure a vessel contract with such an experienced vessel provider as MAC.

"We appreciate the continued support we have received from Eda Kopa, our joint venture partner, in reaching this milestone and, together with them, look forward to working with MAC and the shipyard in seeing the delivery of our first vessel and making seafloor mining a reality."

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Separately, MAC will order the vessel from China-based Fujian Mawei Shipbuilding, which will be built to Nautilus’ specifications.

The contract to build and design the vessel is to be signed before 28 November.

As per the deal, Nautilus will deposit $10m payable to MAC following the payment of the first installment to the shipbuilder, while MAC will be provided an $18m charterer’s guarantee by Solwara 1 JV after the vessel starts charter services.

The 227m-long and 40m-wide vessel can accommodate up to 180 people and generate approximately 31MW of power. It is expected to delivered by the end of 2017.