Nautilus Minerals Inc. (NUS), seeking to be the first large-scale miner of copper and gold from the ocean bottom, fell the most in more than seven years after halting equipment construction to avoid running out of cash.
The shares fell 43 percent to 41 Canadian cents at the close in Toronto, the biggest drop since Dec. 29, 2004. The shares have lost 77 percent this year.
Nautilus is halting construction of its Seafloor Production System and firing 60 workers, the Toronto-based company said today in a statement. The company can no longer afford to fund the project alone amid a dispute with the government of Papua New Guinea over shared development costs, according to the statement.
“There will be a considerable delay in any commencement of production operations and it may also result in an increase in the project cost,” the company said in the statement.
Nautilus was awarded the world’s first deep-sea mining lease by the government of Papua New Guinea in January 2011.
The company’s biggest shareholders are Moscow-based Metalloinvest Holding Ltd., which owned 17 percent of the company’s shares as of May 1, London-based Anglo American Plc (AAL), and MB Holding Company LLC, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
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