Nautilus Minerals Deep-sea Mining Company Running Out of Money

Nautilus Minerals setup over 12 years ago with the goal of deep-sea mining. They built giant robotics machines and systems to mine metals such as gold, zinc and copper from the bottom of the ocean. They wanted to Nautilus’s big machines to carve and crush underwater volcanoes to get at metals.

They only have two big shareholders left: MB Holding, an Omani conglomerate, and Metalloinvest, a Russian steel and mining firm.

Unfortunately, they are running out of money. $350 million is required to get mining operating.

A Chinese shipyard was paid to make a customized mining ship for Nautilus. Nautilus had paid an Emirate based company, but they went out of business in 2017. The shipyard said Nautilus could step in if they could make a payment. Nautilus had no cash so the ship ended up going to an Indian company that also wants to mine the deep sea.

Nautilus used $17 million of a $34 million credit line that MB Holding and Metalloinvest extended to it in January in exchange for the rights to purchase more shares. It seems that the Omani and Russian interests will take over when Nautilus cannot pay back the loan.

Key executives have left and some have made another deep-sea mining company. They and other competing deep-sea mining companies are going after round metal nodules. Softball size metal balls that form and just are lying around in certain spots on the ocean floor. A simpler and cheaper vacuum system can scoop up the nodules.

16 thoughts on “Nautilus Minerals Deep-sea Mining Company Running Out of Money”

  1. As hellish is the requirements for a steam lift with sand particle stream is, that still strikes me as easier than trying to collect the mineral stream in-situ in the water column from precipitate. Though locating a closed loop turbine with a heatsink directly over the vent and coldsink farther away could work well, if the flow speed over the vent heatsink is fast enough to prevent scale buildup. Though that probably predisposes you to an all gas power cycle if you want to avoid the headaches of 2 phase rigs (high pressure nitrogen, perhaps CO2?). I also don’t get the impression the water flow is very fast from a vent unless it was artificially created (similar to fracking/conventional terrestrial EGS hydrothermal well digging with directional drilling to create a nice feed), which means scale buildup will be an issue, and you can’t make reasonable power mechanically from hot water rising alone.

  2. Interesting, but as you note, bringing that mix to the surface to use for power there is problematic.

    Place a chimney over the vent, with sealed turbines on inlets surrounding its base, and the hot water will do its thing, you can extract power from the rising water column by interacting with cold water, and once the minerals precipitate out they can be separated out part way up the chimney, and brought up separately as a slurry.

    The only tough part in that case is turbines that can operate without maintenence for long periods at great depth. But at least you don’t need huge scale to try it out.

  3. “MDL Energy buying the ship seems strikes me as odd if it was heavily customized for Nautlius’ excavator system.”

    Maybe they were anticipating obtaining the excavator system, too, once Nautilus went under because they couldn’t afford a second ship?

  4. Like this?

    Steam lift from supercritical hot hydrothermal vent water flash expanding into steam once at the appropriate depth will self raise up a riser tube to a platform/barge. The problem is you are effectively operating the worl’s largest sandblaster, which will eat away at the riser pipe and do significant damage at the first bend in pipe at the surface platform. If you can handle the damage, the sand-like particles of minerals can be collected, but washing out the salt is going to be obnoxious. Maybe melt the sandy aggregate and electrorefine what you want?

  5. Why not pipe a vent and collect straight from vent into collection Chambers CHEAPER than harvesting the ground or maybe I am wrong

  6. Ho, boy. Did I have a LONG hard rant about that over dinner this last weekend. Embarrassing: just how little the died-in-the-wool Dems think that everything is cherry and bright in the HSRA. You should have been a fly on my shoulder. Then again, you’d have laughed so hard, you’d’ve fallen in the punchbowl and drowned. Or at least had a jolly old time trying… LOL.

  7. So Nautilus and Neptune materials were the previous big players, but there were noises from china and japan.

    Kind of a shame, since Nautilus appears to have completed their excavator equipment (which is an interesting hybrid between conventional terrestrial mining equipment and underwater ROV’s)

    MDL Energy buying the ship seems strikes me as odd if it was heavily customized for Nautlius’ excavator system.

    DeepGreen being the destination for escaping executives seems not to be all fluff, but have they really secured seabed minig rights? Seems they’ve only done nodule surveys so far.

  8. Nautilus was started 12 years ago, during the great China commodity bull. That bull ended about 3 years ago, which is probably why this company was struggling. There were efforts in ocean mining in the late 70’s and early 80’s that ended when that commodity bull ended as well. This is no different.

  9. Nautilus attracted millions in investment. With common practice, most went to operations, salaries, experiments, investor’s demonstrations, marketing, executive golf strategy informals, all that.  

    Not many nodules got mined. 

    That “The Management” is leaving, is forming a new company, with a goal to build far more efficient machines … is laudable enough, but one really must “watch the money”.  

    If most of the focus remains on high-level inter-business strategic malingering, and not enough on actual mining-and-recovery, well … its doomed.  

    Kind of like Mr. Mills and his BlackLightPower idea. Perpetually attracting investors, perpetually promising a modestly-near-future breakthrough that’ll revolutionize everything. Fail? Reinvent again, repackage, remarket, reënergize.  

    Just saying…
    Coconuts don’t fall far from their palm trees. 
    And if you transplant the palm…
    Don’t be surprised if it drops coconuts, too. 


  10. I thought about buying Nautilus stock, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger. Their process was just too Rube-Goldberg.

  11. Yeah, reading is fundamental, an Indian company bought the ship. I am sure they will follow all internationally agreed on environmental laws and be good stewards of the ocean.

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