Majors like massive seafloor sulphides

Teck Cominco, Anglo American and Barrick Gold are all significant shareholders in Nautilus Minerals, the leading seabed mining venture, taking their positions in recent months. Now the other major player exploring and developing seafloor massive sulphide (SMS) deposits, Neptune Minerals, reports Newmont Minerals BV, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Newmont Mining, is acquiring a 10.8% holding in Neptune. In addition to the placement, Neptune has granted to Newmont the right of first refusal to negotiate a majority interest in joint ventures on Neptune projects within New Zealand, Japan, and Papua New Guinea. Newmont has agreed a non-competition clause in the Exclusive Economic Zones of those countries.

Newmont has agreed to conduct metallurgical test work on the bulk SMS samples that Neptune intends to collect during the current Kermadec 07 exploration work programme. Newmont may also second, at its cost, specialist technical staff to Neptune to assist the company with geological, engineering and metallurgical studies.

Dr Simon McDonald, Neptune’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Neptune is pleased that one of the world’s premier mining companies has decided to invest in Neptune. Newmont’s investment is an important step in the company’s SMS development strategy. We look forward to growing the excellent relationship we already have in place with Newmont and to bringing the company’s SMS deposits into production together. The cornerstone investment by Newmont validates the business strategy that Neptune has been following since the Company became the world’s first listed SMS explorer in October 2005. Utilizing its first-mover advantage in SMS exploration, Neptune has built on the foundation of its initial New Zealand tenements to now control an extensive high quality portfolio of focussed SMS exploration acreage in eight countries. Adding of the wealth of experience that Newmont brings to Neptune, this relationship establishes the potential to create a powerful force in SMS exploration and development.”

Neptune Minerals is a UK-listed explorer and developer of precious- and base-metal SMS deposits on the ocean floor, with granted exploration licenses totalling more than 263,000 km2 in New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Federated States of Micronesia. Neptune is working throughout June and July 2007 with Geo-Subsea to undertake the Kermadec 07 exploration programme. This work involves high resolution seafloor mapping and sampling of SMS targets in Neptune’s licences offshore New Zealand. Preliminary results are expected to be released in August 2007.

In addition to granted areas, Neptune has exploration applications covering 37,000 km2 pending in the territorial waters of Japan, PNG, Vanuatu, Italy and the Marianas.