The National- Tuesday, January 11, 2011
By PATRICK TALU
NAUTILUS Mineral’s Solowara 1 deep-sea mining project in the waters of Bismarck Sea in New Ireland has discovered high grade mineralised copper deposits, prompting the company to increase exploration spending to at least US$20 million.
The Bismarck Sea operation is the world’s first deep-sea mining enterprise.
In a statement last week, Nautilus said recent ocean floor drilling at its Solwara 1 project in New Ireland revealed a number of intercepts of copper mineralisation exceeding 20%, and confirmed extensions of mineralisation at the deposit.
The company said the results from 10 holes drilled during the second half of last month showed the presence of high grade copper at all sites.
The results are based on hand-held X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyses.
The programme had involved a total of 23 holes drilled at 17 locations, about 1,600m below sea-level and extending to a maximum depth of 52m below the seafloor.
Nautilus’ chief executive Steve Rogers said: “The results again showed the richness of the Solwara 1 deposit.
“It is increasingly clear that the mineralisation is more extensive than initially identified.
“In addition, the copper grades we are finding in these seafloor deposits are significantly higher than the grades that are typical in land-based projects,” Roger said.
Rogers said Nautilus continued to refine drilling techniques, lifting core recoveries and productivity.