FUJIAN Mawei Shipbuilding has awarded a contract for cargo handling equipment for the production support vessel of Nautilus Minerals to an Italian company.

The award, to Bedeschi, is the second major equipment contract to be awarded by the shipyard.

Bedeschi’s state of the art cargo handling system will be used on the production support vessel to load the dewatered material into four storage holds.

It is designed to recover the material from the storage holds and transfer it directly to a handymax vessel for shipment of the material to China.

Use of the Bedeschi system reduces the costs associated with material handling and eliminates the need for multiple handling of material, which improves the safety of marine operations around the vessel, Nautilus said.

Nautilus said the vessel will first serve as the operational base to extract and transport high grade copper and gold material from the project site, in the Bismarck Sea of Papua New Guinea, after funding is obtained for completion of the development of the project.

When completed, the vessel will be 227 metres in length and 40 metres in width with accommodation for up to 180 people and will generate about 31 megawatts of power, the company said.

All of the below deck mining equipment will be installed in the vessel during the build process to minimise the equipment integration to be completed following delivery of the vessel.

Nautilus said the vessel is expected to be delivered by the end of 2017.

Nautilus chief executive Mike Johnston said the company was excited to be building relationships with what he said was a long established and reputable world class supplier to the global port and shipping industries.

Last year Nautilus announced it had entered into an agreement with Marine Assets Corporation for the charter of a vessel to be first deployed for use at the Solwara 1 project and that Marine Assets had entered into a contract with Fujian Mawei Shipbuilding to design and construct the vessel in accordance with Nautilus’ specifications.

Fujian Mawei Shipbuilding is one of the earliest established shipyards in China. The group turned its focus to offshore support vessels in the early 2000s.