Nautilus Minerals Inc. (TSX & AIM: NUS) (the "Company" or "Nautilus") is pleased to provide an update of the development plans for the Solwara 1 seafloor copper-gold project in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea.
Despite the cessation of discussions with dredging contractor Jan de Nul announced on 6th July 2007, the initiation stage of the Solwara 1 Project development has continued to advance aggressively.
David Heydon, CEO & President, commented: "The Company today is in a vastly different position than where it was when it entered in to a Heads of Agreement with Jan de Nul on 4 October 2006 for Jan de Nul to provide a mining platform and accordingly has attracted a range of major contractors and equipment suppliers that see Nautilus now poised to commence development of the worlds first copper-gold mine potentially opening up a whole new resource industry. Since October 2006 the Company has attracted Anglo American, Teck Cominco and Epion as major shareholders, raised significant capital (US$270 million of cash in the bank) and drilled out the Solwara 1 deposit."
Heydon added: "Given the expressions of interest and tenders received to date for offshore components we believe that we will have the option to award a complete mining services contract that would avoid Nautilus having to contribute capital for the mining vessel or platform and provide for an experienced contractor to operate the mine offshore. Indications are that the total mining system will be delivered within the economic framework previously established with Jan de Nul, and allow for a mining commencement date in Q3 2010 subject to timely approvals and permitting."
With respect to the treatment facility, major equipment tender packages have been issued and responses from the supplier and contractor community are being received on time. Preliminary surveys of potential land sites have been carried out and geotechnical investigations will be launched this month. In addition to the preliminary design effort and site selection, optimization studies are being carried out together with an extensive metallurgical test program awarded to AMMTEC to be conducted on material recovered from the recent drilling program.
Following the receipt of expressions of interest from a number of leading international marine contractors Nautilus issued a tender to suitably qualified organisations for the provision of mining services. Mining services encompass the provision of a mining platform, management of delivery of the subsea mining equipment and the future mining operations. From the expressions of interest submitted already it is clear that there are a number of existing vessels operating in the world today that have the capability of being adapted as a mining services vessel as well as a number of vessels under construction which also meet the project timeframe. Nautilus is very pleased with the response of wider industry to this exciting project.
Subsea Mining Equipment
Tenders have recently been received for the deepwater subsea mining tool from leading specialist organisations with experience in deep water robotics, subsea rock cutting and marine mining.
Riser and lifting system tenders have also been received from deepwater experienced contractors with extensive riser design and solids pumping experience primarily from the offshore oil/gas and dredging industries.
The Company is finalising its review of these tenders and following completion of commercial negotiations would propose to award the formal contract for the provision of Mining Services and related equipment.