Nautilus Minerals (ocean floor mining company) has an agreement with Tongling Nonferrous Metal Group for 1.1 million tonnes per annum (subject to +/- 20% variation) of Solwara 1 material for a period of three years on a take or pay basis, commencing upon the first delivery of product from Solwara 1, targeted in Q4 2013. The agreement is equal to 5% of the world's copper production.
* They are developing the ability to extract high grade material on one deposit and move to the next deposit 100kms away and extract ore in a matter of days
* they will be able to extract ore with minimal overburden, stripping and waste
* They are using robots to drill one mile below the ocean surface
* some of their deposits have over 30% copper
* They have been able to discover a new mineralized system every three days
* Production plan for Solwara project off of Papua New Guinea- 1.3 million tons/year containing 80,000 tonnes Cu and approx 150,000 – 200,000oz gold
Nautilus plans to start mining next year but also cites possible delays. It is building robots up to 25 feet tall that are to collect sulfides and pump them to the surface. Barges are then to carry the seabed minerals to Rabaul, a Papua New Guinea port some 30 miles away.
China and Other Countries Rushing for the Last Redivision of the World
China, the world’s largest consumer of gold, copper and many other industrial metals, has shown little interest in waiting for declarations of success. When the seabed authority adopted rules for sulfide prospecting in May 2010, Beijing’s representative filed the country’s application on the same day.
China does its mineral hunting from ships. It is also developing a submersible known as Jiaolong, after a mythical sea dragon, that can carry three people down deep enough to investigate the sulfide areas.
Last year, it signed a contract with the authority for exclusive sulfide rights to 3,860 square miles, about the size of Puerto Rico, on a volcanic rift nearly two miles below the Indian Ocean. Jin Jiancai, secretary general of China’s ocean mineral resources agency, told reporters that such deposits “will help China meet the increasing demand” for refined metals.
Russia joined the high-seas rush in 2011, and France and South Korea in May. Recently, Seoul also cut a deal for sulfide prospecting in the waters of Fiji, letting it tap the mineral bounty of Pacific volcanism.
John R. Delaney, an oceanographer at the University of Washington who has studied the volcanic springs for decades, said the threat of environmental harm from seabed mining probably centered less on the high-seas projects of developed states than those in the territorial waters of the Pacific islanders.
“They’re more worried about their economies than the environment,” he said in an interview.
Dr. Cherkashov of the minerals society played down the environmental concerns, saying one reason for the global rush is that seabed mining has a relatively low impact compared with land operations.
“It’s first come, first get,” he said of the multiplying claims. The wide maneuvering for the most promising sites, he added, represents “the last redivision of the world.”
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