NAUTILUS Minerals is making excellent progress as it continues with preparations for the seafloor mining project in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea. The company aims to commence operations at the Solwara 1 project site in quarter one of 2019, mining copper, gold and silver.

The company’s chairman Russell Debney told the annual general meeting of shareholders that progress had been made in the delivery of completed seafloor production equipment.

“We have commenced submerged trials of the Seafloor Production Tools (SPT) in Papua New Guinea and have delivered the Launch & Recovery System (LARS) equipment to the Mawei shipyard in China, while also progressing there with the build of our Production Support Vessel (PSV).

“We now look forward to seeing more of the equipment arrive for integration over the coming months at the shipyard as we gear up towards the launch of the PSV early in 2018,” he said.

The LARS consists of very large A-frames, lift winches, hydraulic power units, electric power units, deck control cabins and ancillary equipment. It was built by AxTech on behalf of Soil Machine Dynamics as part of Nautilus’ fabrication contract with the latter.

It will be used to launch and stabilise the Seafloor Production Tools during deployment from the vessel down to the seafloor and during retrieval from the seafloor back up to the vessel.

Nautilus CEO Mike Johnston said, “The next step for the LARS will be its integration onto the PSV, after import/customs clearances and minor re-assembly.

“The LARS’ installation marks the start of our equipment integration onto the PSV, and will be undertaken by Mawei shipyard personnel with support from Nautilus and the equipment vendors. The vessel build remains on schedule, and we look forward to seeing more of the equipment arrive for integration over the coming months.”

Earlier this year the SPTs arrived in PNG and trials are under way in an existing facility on Motukea Island, near Port Moresby, in conjunction with partner Petromin.

Mike Johnston said “We are delighted to be undertaking submerged trials. The trials will result in money and investment going into the PNG economy, and the employment of Papua New Guineans in ‘state of the art’ technology which are some of the key benefits of seafloor production.”

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