Conversation starting to change on Nautilus and seafloor mining
Peter Koven | Financial Post | March 8, 2016
Seafloor mining is one of those things that a lot of investors won’t believe in until it is actually proven to work. But there is a growing acknowledgement that it could well happen soon.
As Nautilus Minerals Inc., the pioneer of this business, inches closer and closer to a planned start of operations in 2018, chief executive Mike Johnston said the conversation around Nautilus is changing. In general, people no longer doubt this company will ever put its mining plan into action. Instead, they simply question whether it will work the way Nautilus hopes.
“This project is pretty binary to people — you either like it or you don’t,” he said in an interview.
He said investor confidence is building each time Nautilus reaches another milestone. Last month, the company took delivery of seafloor production tools. Johnston said the preparation of the 230-metre-long vessel is also going well and it should leave the dock in the middle of next year.
Nautilus still needs more capital to initiate production at its Solwara 1 project in Papua New Guinea. The company wants to raise another $125 million to $175 million, which is bigger than its current market capitalization (about $94 million). Johnston maintained he is confident Nautilus will be able to raise those funds, which could come from a combination of sources such as strategic investors, debt, equipment financing and a royalty. The company has spent about $225 million to date.