Nautilus Minerals the first commercial ocean floor gold and copper mining company

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Previously we had talked about a researcher who indicated that ocean floor mineral resources could provide current world demand for over 6000 years. Now we review a company that could launch full scale ocean floor mining happen within 3 years.

Nautilus is the first company to commercially explore the ocean floor for gold and copper seafloor massive sulphide deposits and is currently developing its first project. The Company’s main focus is the Solwara 1 Project, which is located in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea in the western Pacific Ocean. Nautilus is listed on the TSX and on AIM, and has among its largest shareholders two of the world’s leading international resource companies, Teck (6.8%) and Anglo American (11.1%). Epion (21%) is controlled by the founder of Metalloinvest one of the largest and fastest growing mining and metallurgical holdings in Russia.

The company has a market value of about $300 million.

Design work is proceeding on the Seafloor Production Tools and preparations continue for the drilling program in Q4 2010. With US$185 million in cash and cash equivalents, we continue to maintain a strong financial position

Solwara 1 Development Project

* Competitive offshore production cost with high grade
* US$70 per tonne offshore production cost (w/ 10% contingency) with resources that have a value averaging about $1000 per tonne
* Offshore production equipment capital US$383 million
* Environmental Permit granted
* Engineering well advanced (24 months work)
* Sourcing JV development partner
* Full scale mining at 1.2 million tonnes/yr with capability to increase to 1.8
million tonnes per yr
* 30 month build schedule to first ore (as of June 2010)

Key Components

* Seafloor Mining Tool (SMT)
* Riser and Lifting System (RALS)
* Production Support Vessel (PSV)
* Production Support Vessel (PSV)
* Equipment either existing or an adaptation to existing offshore technology

Volcanogenic massive sulfide ore deposits or VMS are a type of metal sulfide ore deposit, mainly Cu-Zn-Pb which are associated with and created by volcanic-associated hydrothermal events in submarine environments.

These deposits are also sometimes called volcanic-hosted massive sulfide (VHMS) deposits. They are predominantly stratiform accumulations of sulfide minerals that precipitate from hydrothermal fluids on or below the seafloor in a wide range of ancient and modern geological settings. In modern oceans they are synonymous with sulfurous plumes called black smokers.

They occur within environments dominated by volcanic or volcanic derived (e.g., volcano-sedimentary) rocks, and the deposits are coeval and coincident with the formation of associated volcanic rocks. As a class, they represent a significant source of the world’s Cu, Zn, Pb, Au, and Ag ores, with Co, Sn, Ba, S, Se, Mn, Cd, In, Bi, Te, Ga and Ge as co- or by-products

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