Massive investment in subsea mining expected

Subsea mining in Australia could benefit from a multimillion-dollar investment by the US-based underwater drones company, Aquabotix.

The start-up is raising $7 million in an initial public offering via the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX), it has been reported in the AFR.

The company makes portable underwater vehicles used by commercial, industrial, government, military and recreational applications.

This investment is expected to aid growth in the Asia-Pacific region. “We see a lot of interest from here and we wanted to have a physical presence in the region and we think this is the right market for growth,” said Aquabotix chief executive and founder Durval Tavares.

“Over half of our products are sold internationally in over 45 countries and we have a lot of demand coming from China, Indonesia, South Korea and Australia.”

“We’ve already been making a profit for the last three years, so this is a growth and expansion move.”

“The hybrid is a vehicle you can control directly, or you can program a mission into it. We realised there was no need to make a distinction,” he said.

Aquabotix’s drones were the first that clients are able to control via the iPad. Among its clients include Sydney-based Broadspectrum, who operate in the defence, property, social, infrastructure, resources and industrial sectors.

Plans to make seabed mining a reality are already in the works, with Canadian company Nautilus Minerals expecting to initiate the Solwara 1 project in Papua New Guinea, the first of its kind, by early 2019.   

The project will see copper and gold deposits mined from the seafloor while a report suggests that subsea copper mining is more sustainable than terrestrial mining.

 As part of the move, Aquabotix is also pledging to set up local operations including support, customer service and distribution centres in Australia.