The Fijian Government has granted the company fourteen special prospecting licenses, covering a total of approximately 60,000 km2. The territory is considered highly prospective, having been the subject of marine research by Japanese, French and other scientific cruises in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The licenses each have an initial term of two years.
Under the terms of a regional area of interest agreement signed with Teck Resources in 2007, Teck holds the right to earn an interest in the Fijian tenements by contributing to exploration spending. Teck has not yet indicated whether it intends to exercise that right.
Following the grant of the Fijian leases, Nautilus holds exclusive exploration tenements covering a total of approximately 230,000 km2 in the western Pacific, and has applied for a further 370,000 km2, taking the total to approximately 600,000 km2.
Nautilus' CEO, Steve Rogers said the award of the licenses was an important step forward for Nautilus and for Fiji.
"The territory is very promising and has the potential to host significant high grade deposits of copper, zinc, silver and gold.
"Following the recent grant of exploration licenses by the International Seabed Authority, the Fijian government's decision to select Nautilus as the first private sector, commercial organization to be granted offshore exploration leases reconfirms the leading status of Nautilus in this new industry," he said.
Nautilus is developing the world's first deepwater seafloor resource development project at Solwara 1, in the Bismarck Sea of Papua New Guinea. The project is well advanced, with all permitting in place and construction of remote-controlled seafloor production equipment having commenced.