Technology Overview

Nautilus Minerals is utilising proven technologies from the offshore oil and gas industries, dredging and onshore mining industries to realise the new deep seafloor resource production industry. The result is a system which has three main components: the Seafloor Production Tools (SPTs) the Riser and Lifting System (RALS) and the Production Support Vessel (PSV). The excavation and collection has been split into three individual tasks which will each be carried out by a different vehicle. The Auxiliary Cutter is designed as the pioneering machine which prepares the rugged sea bed for the more powerful Bulk Cutter(BC). These two machines gather the excavated material; the third vehicle, the Collecting Machine will collect the cut material by drawing it in as seawater slurry with internal pumps and pushing it through a flexible pipe to the subsea pump and on to the PSV via a riser system. Following dewatering of the material on the vessel, a state of the art cargo handling system will be used to load the dewatered material into four storage holds. It will then recover the material from the storage holds and transfer it directly to a handymax vessel for shipment of the material to China.


Technology Overview
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Many world class companies have been involved in the design of the seafloor equipment. The cutting drum of the BC was designed and built by Sandvik (Austria), a world leader in hard-rock mechanized mining and rock cutting equipment. The designs are based on similar designs used on large continuous miner machines used in underground mining and construction. The track sets for all three SPTs have been designed and built by Caterpillar, based on an existing Caterpillar excavator track design. Modification to the track set for subsea operation and required cutting duty was completed by SMD in consultation with Caterpillar and Sandvik. The dredge pumps for all three SPTs have been supplied by Damen, one of the world's leading dredge equipment suppliers and are based on existing catalogue designs used in the dredging industry. The hydraulic equipment for all three SPTs is based on existing off-the-shelf Bosch Rexroth hydraulic equipment, with adaptations by SMD. The flexible hoses for all three SPTs have been designed and supplied by ContiTech AG (Germany), and are very similar to the rubber hoses used in the dredging industry. Companies and institutions involved in the simulations and test work of the BC include CSIRO, Cellula Robotics, Deltares, Istanbul Technical University, ContiTech Oil & Marine Corp and Paterson & Cooke Consulting.

GE Oil and Gas have been involved in the development of the Subsea Slurry & Lift Pump and the riser has been designed by Nautilus' RALS main contractor, Technip USA, and built by subcontractor General Marine Contractors .

To read more on the suppliers that have come on board for the design of the PSV click here