Simon Hartley — 3 February 2012
Seabed mineral explorer Chatham Rock Phosphate (NZAX: CRP) is this week beginning tests at sea on bulk sampling equipment on the seafloor of the Chatham Rise.
Chatham Rock is in the second half of its four-year prospecting licence and plans to spend $US2 million ($NZ2.47 M) on its next round of exploration and data acquisition, with the aim of gaining a mining licence within the next 24-months.
Managing director Chris Castle said the research vessel Dorado Discovery was due to reach the Chatham Rise on Monday to test the bulk sampling equipment which it plans to use later this year.
“The test samples gathered over the next several days will help to ground-truth the electronic information recently gathered during an 11-day scientific cruise for Chatham Rock Phosphate before Christmas,” Castle said.
The Dorado Discovery's owners, Nasdaq-listed Odyssey Marine, had purchased a clamshell bucket to use alongside other scientific equipment and machinery on the vessel and had built a special handling frame which can take seabed samples of about 1.3 cubic metres.
Permit agency New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals has approved the testing.
Chatham Rock's permit covers 4,726 sq km over the central Chatham Rise, 450 km east of Christchurch. It intends to extract shallow seabed deposits of rock phosphate; in a depth range of 375m-425m and replace $300 M of imports.
Castle said the data and images collected from the December voyage involved “the most significant research work undertaken” at the Chatham Rise since the German vessel Sonne's visit in 1981; a New Zealand-German joint venture to evaluate the phosphate's commercial viability.
This Friday, subscriptions close in a recently extended share purchase plan to its 255 shareholders, hoping to raise several hundred thousand dollars, which is part of a total $US5 M being sought including separate, offshore, private placements.
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