World's first sea-floor mine signs first customer
Canada-based mining firm Nautilus Minerals said Tuesday it had signed China's Tongling Nonferrous Metals Group as the first customer of its pioneering Papua New Guinean sea-floor mine.
Nautilus, which is listed on the Canadian and London stock exchanges and has offices in Australia, said Tongling had agreed to buy 1.1 million tonnes of sulphides per annum from its Solwara 1 undersea mine for three years.
The project, in the minerals-rich Manus basin of PNG's Bismarck Sea, is claimed by Nautilus as the world's first commercial sea-floor mine, and is slated to begin production in the fourth quarter of 2013.
"We have now closed the value chain on the project, established our first customer for seafloor massive sulphides and look forward to building a long-term relationship with Tongling," said Nautilus CEO Stephen Rogers.
Rogers said the securing of Anhui-based copper giant Tongling showed the “considerable interest in the high-grade massive sulphides being found by the emerging sea-floor resource production industry.”
Located about 50 kilometres (31 miles) north of New Britain's port city of Rabaul, Solwara 1 is a deposit of what is known as "sea-floor massive sulphides" -- rocks containing high grades of copper, gold, zinc and silver.