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Deep-sea Mining Vessel to Explore Waters off Papua New Guinea; 'Dawn of a New Era in Mining'

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PORT MORESBY, Papau New Guinea -- Deep-sea prospector Nautilus Mineral Limited plans to use a specialized deep sea mining vessel to explore the [ocean] under their Solwara Project in Papua New Guinea.

The company has entered into a heads of agreement with Belgium based Jan De Nul, the world’s leading dredging company.

Under the agreement, Jan De Nul will construct at its cost the specialized deep sea mining vessel.

The 191-meter vessel, to be named Jules Verne, is expected to be completed in 2009 to meet Nautilus’ target, subject to PNG Government approvals.

The Jules Verne will be a positioned ship capable of deploying mining equipment, pumps and riser pipes for the operations at Solwara 1, which lies on the seafloor in up to 1,700 meters of water.

The plan calls for the copper - gold material to be dredged from the seafloor and pumped to the mining vessel where it would be transferred to barges for transport to a land based concentrator which would produce a gold-rich copper concentrate for dispatch to copper smelters.

Jan De Nul will build, own and operate the mining ship, and will provide barges, tugs and operational capability in its role as mining contractor for the Solwara 1 Project. Nautilus would provide the capital –estimated at US$120 million – for two sub sea miners, power umbilicals, pumps, 1,800 meter riser pipe and related handling equipment.

Jan De Nul would reimburse Nautilus over time for this capital by rebating 6.5 per cent of each monthly contract mining invoice, effectively purchasing the equipment from Nautilus.

"Jan De Nul will join Nautilus in its plans to be the first to mine the deep oceans of the world for copper, gold and zinc. Such a move represents the dawn of a new era in mining: The creation of a whole new industry," Mr Heydon said. "We have seen how the offshore oil and gas industry has evolved since its early days – to the point where society is now reliant on offshore oil/gas to meet its needs. Likewise, seafloor resources may one day be critical for society to meet its future needs for copper and zinc."

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of UnderwaterTimes.com, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

3 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

Doesn't this worry anyone? As if we haven't done enough damage to the surface of the Earth already. Now we are going to plunge thousands of feet into the depths of our oceans--disturbing a largely unknown ecosystem--for what? To dredge the ocean floor for gold dust? Is it really necessary to scrape the bottom of the ocean for a few flecks of gold dust? Let's not forget what happened to King Midas: "So Midas, king of Lydia, swelled at first with pride when he found he could transform everything he touched to gold; but when he beheld his food grow rigid and his drink harden into golden ice then he understood that this gift was a bane and in his loathing for gold, cursed his prayer" (Claudian, In Rufinem).
   comment# 1   - Gareth Lacy · Seattle, Washington · May 12, 2009 @ 12:32pm

Very good economicaly but will destroy the underwater environment and its living creatures living in it.
   comment# 2   - mona j maska · mt hagen (png) · May 11, 2011 @ 5:05am

Amazing , steam at 400 degrees celsius, pretty hot, from a volcano, followed by periodic volcanic eruptions enough to make more islands. Hurricanes enough to stir the sea bed floor , and you are worrying about some man made toothpick scratches on the sea bed floor ? Suppose you are correct . This could be overcome by mining alternate rows i.e . one swath mined skip a row , repeat ,or use a checker board pattern , and observe the mined areas over time . Any organism that can live in 400 degree celsius steam at 1500 meters below the sea plus is pretty tough . There is no evidence that the sea bed floor cannot repair itself , quite the contrary . After major eruptions the ocean gets back to normal pretty quickly . For the record, I own nautilus stock, and the above is still true .
   comment# 3   - Richard J Manfredi · Yonkers United States · May 14, 2015 @ 2:43pm
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