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Investors pour cash into seabed mineral exploration company

Wednesday 21 June 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Business, National


Investors pour cash into seabed mineral exploration company
Anuanua Moana is officially blessed and named during a ceremony at Avatiu Harbour in March this year. The exploration vessel is owned by Moana Minerals. PHOTO: AL WILLIAMS/23030203

Moana Minerals is not expecting any major changes to how they operate, despite the recent investment into its parent company Ocean Minerals by American firm Odyssey Marine Exploration.

It has just been confirmed that Odyssey, a company publicly traded on NASDAQ has secured a 13 per cent share in Ocean Minerals Ltd (OML), who is the parent company of the Cook Islands-based Moana Minerals.  The purchase agreement allows Odyssey to acquire a total of up to 40 per cent of OML over the next 18 months at Odyssey’s discretion.

Odyssey is a deep-ocean pioneer that has conducted exploration since 1994.

It is seeking more than $2.3 billion from Mexico after being denied a licence from the Mexican government.

Asked to comment on the litigation, Moana Minerals chief executive Hans Smit told Cook Islands News that “in deciding to partner with Odyssey, OML reviewed the circumstances involving
prior litigation and concluded they did not raise any concerns that may impact OML’sr
relationship and future plans”.

Moana Minerals Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of OML, holds a five-year exploration license covering 23,630 square kilometres from the SBMA granted in 2022. Odyssey will be an investor and marine operating partner, but it does not hold an exploration license in the Cook Islands.

Smit said that Odyssey’s investment in OML will not change the management or structure of OML or impact or change Moana Minerals’ published work plan.

“However, having Odyssey as an investor strengthens our program by providing additional resources and experience that augment OML’s current resource pool,” Smit said.

“Odyssey’s extensive experience exploring the oceans to work cooperatively with countries interested in understanding the potential subsea mineral deposits in their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) makes them a well-qualified investor and will help Moana Minerals meet those commitments.”

Smith said Moana Minerals plans per its license remain unchanged and “we continue to add to the work already completed under our survey and recent exploration campaigns. What is exciting is this investment also brings us a 6000-meter Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) which will further advance both exploration efforts and allow for exploration activities that haven’t previously been possible in the region”.

“We have to date been able to map our entire license area providing, for the first time, a wonderful image of the seafloor with all the features clearly visible. On our most recent campaign we were able to successfully sample the seafloor reaffirming the extensive presence of nodules and shall be sharing some of the imagery of the seafloor during the upcoming careers fair,” Smit said.