In 1985 SMS and hydrothermal sulphide systems were discovered in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea (PNG) by the research vessel the RV Moana Wave at a site that later became known as the Solwara 2 Prospect. The late 1980s and 1990s saw numerous research projects undertaken. PNG was the first country in the world to grant commercial exploration licenses for such SMS systems when, in 1997, Nautilus's first tenement, EL1196, was granted.

In March 2007, Nautilus launched the world's largest commercial exploration program for high-grade SMS systems. This program included extensive environmental studies, resource definition drilling, sampling and related metallurgical and production development studies on Solwara 1.

A successful exploration year culminated in the Company releasing the world's first NI 43-101 resource estimate for a portion of Solwara 1. Following several more exploration and drilling campaigns the initial resource estimate was updated in 2011 with the addition of a maiden resource estimate for nearby Solwara 12. The full report can be viewed here.

Solwara 1

The Solwara 1 Field was first identified by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in 1996, while Solwara 4 was discovered in 1991. Extensive research campaigns between 1993 and 1997 formed the base line knowledge for what would become more intensive commercial development activities. Solwara, means "salt water" in Tok Pisin. Since 2006, Nautilus has used the term 'Solwara' to describe it's PNG exploration projects and prospects during its reconnaissance and drilling campaigns.

Nautilus was granted its first Mining Lease in January 2011 for Solwara 1, and the Environmental Permit for Solwara 1 was awarded in December 2009. The Solwara 1 deposit, which sits on the seafloor at a water depth of some 1600 metres, contains a copper grade of approximately 7%. That compares with land-based copper mines, where the copper grade today averages 0.6%. In addition, gold grades of well over 20 g/tonne have been recorded in some intercepts at Solwara 1 and the average grade is approximately 6 g/tonne.

Solwara Map

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