Blue ocean thinking puts Nautilus Minerals on course for copper and gold production

Thursday, Jan 27 2011 by
Blue ocean thinking puts Nautilus Minerals on course for copper and gold production

When Anthony O’Sullivan joined Nautilus Minerals (LON:NUS) in 2005 his expertise and earlier experiences in leading base metals exploration at mining giant BHP Billiton were put to the test. For Nautilus, and O’Sullivan, the years that followed were spent finding answers to the complex geological, engineering and financial challenges of drilling for copper and gold at 1,500 metres under the sea off the coast of Papua New Guinea. Bringing together the best expertise in international mining and offshore oil and gas exploration – together with a mining lease that was finally issued this month – Nautilus is now closing in on plans to begin production.

Shares in the AIM and TSX listed company have soared since the start of 2011. A flow of promising results from ongoing test drilling and the all important issuance of a 59 sq km mining lease (on a ground holding twice the size of the UK) have driven the Nautilus Minerals share price from 144p to 201p in just four weeks in London. In Toronto the price has moved from $2.15 to $3.25 over the same period, with investors getting excited about the regulatory go-ahead for Nautilus to begin work.

As chief operations officer, O’Sullivan is modest about the huge obstacles that Nautilus has overcome in proving that deep water mining is viable. In an industry where base metals exploration is becoming an increasingly fruitless business, the implications for Nautilus achieving production from its Solwara 1 project, 30km from land in the Bismarck Sea, could be significant. Indeed, shareholders including Anglo American (LON:AAL) and Teck Resources (TSX: TCK) have been keen to encourage the development and adaption of technologies to ensure that the company can make its blue ocean strategy a success.

Anthony, you joined Nautilus in 2005 from BHP. What was your view of the mineral exploration industry at that time?

When I was at BHP Billiton (LON:BLT) , one of the things that I was in charge of was the metal exploration programme for about five years and in that time we didn’t really find much. Since I left, and it has been a bit more than five years, they still haven’t found very much. So when you’ve got the world’s biggest mining company with all the…

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