Henry Lazenby | Mining Weekly
Marine mining projectdeveloper Nautilus Minerals has completed the second of three machines it needs to mine high-grade polymetallic seafloor massive sulphide deposits at 1 600 m below the surface of the Bismarck Sea, offshore Papua New Guinea (PNG).
The TSX-listed pioneer on Friday said UK-based engineering firm Soil Machine Dynamics of Newcastle upon Tyne had completed the mechanical and hydraulic assembly of the second seafloor production tool (SPT), the collecting machine, and systems commissioning had now started.
The collecting machine was the lightest of the three SPTs, weighing 200 t when fully assembled. It was designed to collect material cut from the seafloor by drawing it in as seawater slurry with internal pumps and pushing it through a flexible pipe to the riser and lifting system and onto the support surface vessel.
“Having already completed the assembly of the bulk cutter, we are delighted that the assembly of the collecting machine has now been completed and commissioning has begun. This is an exciting time for the company as we continue with the build of the seafloor production equipment while work has also started toward the build of our production support vessel. We look forward to finalizing the assembly of the third and final SPT, the auxiliary cutter,” Nautilus CEO Mike Johnston said.
Nautilus planned to excavate and collect ore in a three-step process that would each be carried out by a different SPT. The auxiliary cutter was designed as the pioneering tool that prepared the rugged seabed for the more powerful bulk cutter.
While these two tools would gather the excavated material; the third, the collecting machine, would collect the cut material by drawing it in as seawater slurry with internal pumps and pushing it through a flexible pipe to the subsea pump and on to the vessel via the riser and lifting system.
The remaining water and rock would be sent back down another pipe nearly all the way back to the ocean floor.
Nautilus last month Nautilus formed a JV company with PNG’s nominee Eda Kopa (Solwara) to mine to develop the Solwara 1 project.
Nautilus had entered into an agreement with Marine Assets Corporation in November to charter a vessel to be deployed at the Solwara 1 project. The JV expected to take delivery of the vessel late in 2017.