Nautilus Minerals secures $US34m for deep-sea mining in PNG

A Nautilus bulk cutter for deep sea mining. (Image: Nautilus Resources)

Nautilus Minerals has entered a $US34 million ($45 million) agreement with lender Deep Sea Mining Finance for deep-sea mining development in Papua New Guinea.

Canada-based Nautilus — which possesses a corporate office in Brisbane — is responsible for the Solwara 1 deep sea mining project in Papua New Guinea; the company plans to utilise the loan as part of an overall $US350 million ($461 million) in project funding requirements.

Lender Deep Sea Mining Finance is a private aggregate of two companies: USM Finance and Mawarid Offshore Mining.

The companies have been granted a charge over Nautilus’ 85 per cent interest in Solwara 1, subject to PNG governmental and third-party approvals.

Of the $US34 million figure, Nautilus has already received $US11.25 million as a bridge loan, with the remaining $US22.75 million to be advanced with a maturity date of January 8 next year.

The loan is secured against Nautilus assets through a general security agreement as well as a pledge in the shares of subsidiary Nautilus Minerals Niugini (NMN).

Nautilus’s much-publicised Solwara 1 project, which involves extensive seabed dredging, has received some concern and criticism regarding its potential environmental effects, despite the company’s environmental impact statement (EIS) having received approval from PNG’s Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA).

In December last year, locals launched legal action against the PNG Government over the project, a move Nautilus chief executive officer Mike Johnston branded “a publicity stunt”.

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