Nautilus falls short

SEAFLOOR mining hopeful Nautilus Minerals has raised less than 30% of funds sought to progress the Solwara 1 copper-gold project off the coast of Papua New Guinea.
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Nautilus was seeking $C103 million in the heavily discounted offer, but raised just $28.2 million.

While the company's two largest shareholders, MB Holdings Company and Metalloinvest Holdings, had indicated their intention to participate, only MB partially exercised its basic subscription privilege.

MB now holds 27%, down from 28%, while Metalloinvest's stake has dropped to 15% from 21%.

Proceeds will be used for the construction and development of the seafloor production system.

Outstanding contracts for equipment associated with the system at the end of January was around $US52.5 million.

The company had around $52.2 million at January 31.

On February 1, Nautilus took delivery of three seafloor production tools from Soil Machine Dynamic's UK facility, which will be tested in Oman.

The tools will be used to cut and extract high-grade copper and gold from the floor of the Bismarck Sea.

Nautilus plans to integrate the tools into its production support vessel next year ahead of the start of production in the first quarter of 2018.

The company said it was considering alternative sources of finance and had begun discussions with various parties.

Despite the setback, Nautilus head of investor relations Michael Joyner was upbeat at Mines and Money Asia last week.

"It's been an exciting year for us," he told delegates.

"It's nice to say we're within two years of production."

Nautilus' corporate office is in Toronto, where it is also listed, but most of its operations are run out of Brisbane.

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