MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Seafloor copper-gold could be mined in 2010

Published by MAC on 2007-10-31


Seafloor copper-gold could be mined in 2010

31st October 2007

by The National, Papua New Guinea

NAUTILUS Minerals remains optimistic it will begin commercial gold and base metals production from mining of the ocean floor, a world first, in 2010.

Chief operating officer Anthony O'Sullivan told the PNG mining seminar yesterday the company was expecting to present a full environmental impact study for public review some time next year.

It is also in the process of becoming the first company ever to delineate an undersea minerals resource to the assessment standards required by Australian, Canadian and other major stock exchanges.

For the first time last year, the company had equipped a remote offshore vehicle to carry out a drilling programme on a mineralised undersea deposit on a nominal 30m spacing.

The 111 core samples taken had confirmed existence of mineral grades as high as 6m at 15% copper and 11 grams of gold per tonne and another intersection of 12% copper and 12 g/t gold.

The copper grades were in sharp contrast to the 0.5% or so that are typical at deposits such as Ok Tedi and Bougainville copper.

Mr O'Sullivan indicated that copper grades were so high in some areas the company would be able to sell a direct shipping product to overseas smelters.

During the company's recent exploration programme in the Bismarck Sea, Nautilus discovered four new base metal sulphide systems within a period of four weeks.

The Solwara 1 prospect, which is 1,600m below the ocean surface, was likely to be the first deposit to be mined when commercial operations begin.

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