A high-profile deep-sea mining company is struggling

submerged trials deep sea mining
The Nautilus Seafloor Production Tools (SPTs) from left to right, the Collecting Machine (CM), the Bulk Cutter (BC) and the Auxiliary Cutter (AC). All three were designed and built at Soil Machine Dynamic’s facility in Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK. © Nautilus Minerals.

The Economist | 5 December 2018

AFTER LISTING on the Toronto stock exchange in 2006 Nautilus Minerals became the public face of a daring new industry: deep-sea mining. It planned to pursue riches on the ocean floor, mining metals such as gold, zinc and copper, desired respectively for lustre, alloys and electronics. Robotic machines would cut, grind and gather volcanic rock at a site called Solwara 1, located 1,600 metres beneath the surface of the Bismarck Sea near Papua New Guinea (PNG). The resultant rocky slurry would be pumped up to a support vessel, then shipped to a site at which the metals could be extracted. Investors were convinced; Nautilus’s shares doubled from their initial price of C$2 ($1.80) in a few months.

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