Nautilus digger in UK

Business, Normal

The National, Friday July 5th, 2013

 A GIANT undersea mining vehicle that will be used to extract gold and copper from a volcanic site in Papua New Guinea has arrived on Tyneside, England.

The 70-tonne Bulk Cutter chassis was delivered to engineering firm Soil Machine Dynamics (SMD) based in Wallsend.

The subsea vehicle manufacturers were awarded the £60 million (K201.5 million)  contract to build the world’s first deep-sea mining tools for Canadian mining company Nautilus Minerals in 2007.

The contract includes three subsea mining machines with the associated control and launch and recovery systems.

The arrival of the chassis, which was designed by SMD and fabricated in Sheffield, is the first major milestone in the production of the mining vehicles.

The Bulk Cutter is the heaviest of the three vehicles, weighing 310 tonnes when fully assembled.

Nautilus intends to use the vehicles at its first project, known as Solwara 1, off the coast of Papua New Guinea in about 1,600m of water.

SMD’s principal engineer Nick Ridley, said: “It’s been around five years since the beginning of the project and we’ve gone through various different guises of the machine and many different designs, so today really is a big milestone in the delivery of the project.”– SkyNews

“Deep-sea mining is a fledgling industry, there are only two or three big players looking at this at the moment, but there is lots of interest worldwide so it’s potentially an exciting future for Tyneside and for mining.”

The excavation and collection of the rich sea minerals has been split into three individual tasks, each of which will be carried out by a different vehicle. – SkyNews