Nautilus Minerals, the world's leader in exploration and development of deep ocean seafloor resources, has located a number of high grade copper and gold Seafloor Massive Sulphide (SMS) deposits in the Bismarck Sea, Papua New Guinea (PNG). Nautilus' business model is based on the notion of ongoing resource accumulation and " aggregation?? of numerous high grade SMS systems to sequentially develop using an offshore production system. Nautilus' record of discovery of new SMS systems in clusters in the Bismarck Sea and in Tonga is in keeping with " camps?? of land based Volcanic Hosted Massive Sulphide (VHMS) systems that form a significant part of the world's reserves of copper, lead and zinc.
Nautilus' development plan is to commence production at its Solwara 1 site located within Mining Lease (ML) 154. As of January 2011, the indicated and inferred mineral resources attributed to the Solwara 1 deposit are 870 kT and 1,300 kT respectively. Nautilus is continuing an exploration and resource evaluation program with the expectation that Solwara 1 and other prospects in its Bismarck Sea tenement holdings will translate into an increased aggregated commercially viable reserve.
This paper summarises a progress update of Nautilus' development plans which will provide a new source of minerals for the world and create a clear benchmark in environmental and community standards for this emerging frontier.
Nautilus is focused on its exploration and development plans for the recovery of high grade copper and gold in SMS mineralisation. These mineralised belts, analogous to land based VHMS deposits, are typically located in areas associated with submarine volcanic activity along deepwater mid-ocean ridges or back-arc basins.
Nautilus' exploration programmes have predominantly focused on the Bismarck Sea, a benign body of water within the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea. Nautilus has used or adapted existing technologies to achieve a very high success rate in generating and converting targets into high grade SMS mineralised discoveries.
Nautilus' first development project is located at an approximate water depth of 1,600 m at its Solwara 1 site. Its plans have focused on the use of existing technology and market leaders in the development of an offshore production system that can be relocated and re-used on subsequent sites.