Nautilus Minerals announced on April 24 the signing of a new agreement with the state of Papua New Guinea that is expected to allow renewed development of Nautilus’ Solwara 1 seafloor mining project in the Bismarck Sea, New Ireland province, Papua New Guinea. The project had been stalled due to a dispute between Nautilus and the state regarding the state’s financial participation in the project.
Under the new agreement, the state will take an initial 15% interest in Solwara 1 and has the option to take up to a further 15% interest within 12 months of the agreement becoming unconditional. The state paid Nautilus a non-refundable deposit for its initial 15% interest of $7 million.
Subsequently, Nautilus announced on May 9 that Eda Kopa (Solwara) Ltd., the state’s nominee for participation in Solwara 1, had placed $113 million into escrow, representing the balance of the funding for Eda Copa’s 15% share of the capital required to complete the development phase of the project up to first production.
These funds will be released to Nautilus if within six months of the funds being placed in escrow, Nautilus secures the charter of a production support vessel and secures for the state certain intellectual property rights. After first production, Eda Kopa will contribute funds in proportion to its interest.