Nautilus Minerals Inc.
AIM : NUS
TSX : NUS

Nautilus Minerals Inc.

September 17, 2008 10:39 ET

Nautilus Minerals Inc.: Teck Cominco Discovers Four High-Grade Copper-Gold-Zinc SMS Systems in Tonga

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 17, 2008) - Nautilus Minerals Inc. (TSX:NUS)(AIM:NUS) (the "Company" or "Nautilus") has been advised by its exploration partner, Teck Cominco Limited ("Teck Cominco"), that it has discovered four new high-grade Seafloor Massive Sulphide ("SMS") Systems on Nautilus' prospecting licences in the Exclusive Economic Zone of the Kingdom of Tonga (http://www.nautilusminerals.com/i/misc/PR_Tonga_Tenements.jpg). Laboratory testing of 17 massive sulphide samples, across the four newly discovered SMS systems, returned an average grade of 16.4 g/t gold, 8.2% copper, 12.3% zinc and 184 g/t silver (see Table 1).

Stephen Rogers, Nautilus' CEO, commented: "The results that Teck Cominco has achieved with its first offshore mineral exploration campaign on our ground are outstanding. This is the first time that commercial exploration has taken place in Tongan waters and the prospectivity of this area has been clearly demonstrated. Building on our recent successes in Papua New Guinea ("PNG") we now look forward to the commencement of our own program in Tongan waters when our vessel Nor Sky arrives later this week. These discoveries deepen our prospect inventory as Nautilus focuses on the development of its Solwara 1 Project in the territorial waters of PNG. These new discoveries reinforce that we have the technology, know-how and the right partners to rapidly find SMS systems. We look forward to progressing these discoveries to the next stage with Teck Cominco over the coming months."

Fred Daley, Teck Cominco VP Exploration, commented: "To outline four new high-grade mineralised systems is a fantastic result. It is even more noteworthy that these are grass-root discoveries. We started this campaign in December 2007 and since then we have completed a full exploration cycle involving regional evaluation, target generation and target testing. With Nautilus' assistance we conducted geochemical and geophysical surveys, some in collaboration with Marine Research Organisations, generating the targets that culminated in these discoveries, using the DEA Surveyor Remote Operated Vehicle ("ROV"). The four newly discovered systems, which are up to 90km apart, (http://www.nautilusminerals.com/i/misc/PR_Tonga_Samples_On_Bathy.jpg) were found during only 9 days of ROV surveying."



Table 1. Assay results

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Prospect Sample No. Au (g/t) Cu (%) Zn (%) Ag (g/t)
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MAKA NEL1002 8.46 10.6 8.39 109
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MAKA NEL1003 4.69 1.66 7.28 53
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MAKA NEL1004 0.76 3.81 2.44 25
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TUNU-SOSISI NEL1009 29.9 4.69 3.03 194
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TUNU-SOSISI NEL1010 14.05 15.9 0.55 48
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TUNU-SOSISI NEL1011 16.4 7.36 26.4 211
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TUNU-SOSISI NEL1012 7.69 24.8 10.25 300
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TUNU-SOSISI NEL1013 33.4 18.75 0.56 113
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PIA NEL1014 29 0.78 27.4 277
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PIA NEL1015 24.8 4.52 14.65 229
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PIA NEL1017 28.9 0.29 22.6 221
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PIA NEL1018 13 0.44 14.7 90
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PIA NEL1019 14.25 6.52 14.65 165
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PIA NEL1020 13.75 15.2 11.6 162
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NIUA_2 NEL1024 10.75 18.5 13.15 363
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NIUA_3 NEL1025 14.15 1.24 19.2 274
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NIUA_3 NEL1026 16.15 4.43 13.65 302
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Min 0.76 0.29 0.55 25
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Max 28.9 24.8 26.4 302
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Average 16.4 8.2 12.3 184
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The scientific and technical information in the table above was
reported to the Company by Teck Cominco


The Maka SMS system is located in a water depth of approximately 1,660m and lies on the crest of the North East Lau Spreading Centre. Sulphide outcrops up to 4m high have been mapped, using video camera and sonar instruments from a ROV, protruding from a base of predominantly pillow basalts. The strike length is currently estimated at 130m with a width of 100m.

The Tunu-Sosisi SMS system is comprised of three sub systems at a water depth of approximately 1,635m along a roughly linear zone over 1.7 km that lies on a major structural zone cross cutting the southern rim of the North East Lau Caldera. All three sub systems have sulphide outcrops protruding from a soft sedimentary base. Estimated size of each of the sub systems are: Tunu (150 x 100m), Sosisi-1 (150 x 60m) and Sosisi-2 (105 x 70m).

The Pia SMS system is located at a water depth of approximately 1,470m and in close proximity to a major structural zone that cross cuts the northern rim of the North East Lau Caldera. The approximate length of the system is 200m with a width of 80m. All sulphide outcrops protrude from a soft sedimentary base.

The Niua SMS system is comprised of two sub systems that lie approximately 1,300m apart and within individual crater like depressions. The first system, Niua-2 is at a water depth of 900m and has an estimated strike length of 230m and width of 170m. The second system, Niua-3 is at a water depth of 1,180m with an estimated strike length of 270m and width of 250m.

These discoveries resulted from thorough desktop analysis of all publicly available marine research data combined with geophysical and geochemical data collected by Teck Cominco in collaboration with the following organisations; Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation ("CSIRO"), Australian National University ("ANU"), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ("NOAA"), and Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology ("HIGP"), This information was used to define a follow-up ROV survey that targeted areas with the greatest prospectivity.

Teck Cominco Option Agreement

On December 20, 2007, Teck committed to spend US$12 million to conduct and manage a ship-based exploration program in 2008 in one or more of four designated areas in PNG, Tonga and New Zealand ("the Areas"). Excluded from the Areas are the Solwara 1 to 10 projects, a 17,500km2 area in the territorial waters of PNG and exploration licences and applications in Tonga and Fiji applied for before October 20, 2006 which remain 100% owned by Nautilus. Teck Cominco will not earn an equity interest in any tenements through this US$12 million expenditure but, rather will then have the right to select, by December 31, 2008, various countries for a country earn-in.

Teck Cominco will have the exclusive right for a term of five years, to form joint ventures on tenements acquired by Nautilus in certain areas since October 20, 2006 (the "New Tenements"). Teck Cominco can earn a 40% interest in New Tenements in each of the following four areas: Bismarck Sea PNG, Solomon Sea PNG, Fiji and Tonga, by spending US$25 million in each selected area within two years of such election. For each area selected Teck Cominco must spend a minimum of US$12.5 million before it can withdraw with no residual interest. Upon earning a 40% interest in an area, Teck Cominco may earn an additional 10.1% in each selected Project Area (defined as an area 100km2 to 200km2) within the New Tenements by spending US$10 million on each Project Area.

Teck Cominco may also earn a 50.1% interest in New Tenements in certain other countries and an additional 9.9% in selected Project Areas in these countries for the same expenditures as above.

Sampling Methodology

Pieces of sulphide rock averaging 3.1kg were collected from the seafloor using a manipulator arm mounted on the ROV (Remora III - 25 hp). Samples were placed in a sample basket on the front of the ROV and then processed on board the ship. Sampling targeted material that was considered representative of the SMS system. Representative sub-samples averaging 1.3kg (0.55 kg to 2.8kg) were taken from the larger samples using either a hammer or rock saw. The remaining portions of each sample were retained for reference purposes.

Laboratory Analysis

All analysis was carried out by ALS Laboratory Group in Brisbane, Australia. ALS operates quality systems based on international standards ISO/IEC17025:1999 "General requirements for the competence of calibration and testing laboratories" and ISO9001:2000 "Quality Management Systems - Requirements".

Sample Custodianship

All sampling, sample handling and analysis was completed under the supervision of Teck Cominco personnel. Sampling was carried out aboard the DEA Surveyor whilst at sea. All sub-samples were placed into numbered calico bags. The bagged samples were then subsequently placed into larger polyweave bags and then finally placed in boxes for secure transportation.

Quality Assurance

External certified geochemical reference materials were prepared by Geostats Pty Ltd, of Perth, Western Australia. They were independently tested along with blank samples which were interspersed at regular intervals between the 17 samples submitted for analysis.

These reference materials comprised of "standards" with known and statistically tested concentrations of the major base and precious metals. Evaluation of these standards indicates that the quality of the analyses, are within acceptable limits.

Qualified Person

The exploration results reported in this announcement have been compiled under the supervision of Dr. Peter Crowhurst, Senior Geologist Teck Cominco Australia Limited. Dr Crowhurst is a member of the Australian Institute of Geoscientists, has 20 years experience as a geologist and researcher in the fields of mineral and petroleum exploration, and is a qualified person as defined under National Instrument 43-101. He consents to his name being used in this release.

About Nautilus Minerals Inc.

Nautilus is the first company to commercially explore the ocean floor for gold and copper seafloor massive sulphide deposits and subject to timely permitting is positioning itself to become an emerging producer in 2010. The Company's main focus is the Solwara 1 Project, which is located in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea in the western Pacific Ocean. Nautilus is listed on the TSX and on AIM, and has among its largest shareholders two of the world's leading international resource companies, Teck Cominco (7.2%) and Anglo American (5.7%). Metalloinvest, one of the largest and fastest growing mining and metallurgical holding companies in Russia, beneficially owns 22.4% of its shares through Gazmetall Holding (Cypress) Limited.

Neither the TSX nor the London Stock Exchange accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this press release.

Contact Information

  • Nautilus Minerals Inc. (Toronto)
    Investor Relations
    (416) 551-1100
    Email: investor@nautilusminerals.com
    Website: www.nautilusminerals.com
    or
    Nautilus Minerals Inc.
    Australian Project Office
    +61 (7) 3318 5555
    or
    Numis Securities Limited
    John Harrison
    Nominated Adviser
    + 44(0) 20 7260 1000
    or
    Numis Securities Limited
    James Black
    Corporate Broking
    + 44(0) 20 7260 1000