Nautilus Minerals reports that Teck Cominco has commenced an offshore exploration program over Nautilus’ exploration tenements in the territorial waters of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and the exclusive economic zone of the Kingdom of Tonga. At the completion of this program Teck will have the right to elect to enter into joint ventures with Nautilus in up to six countries, earning between 40% and 50% (depending on the country) by the expenditure of $25 million in that specific country area. Nautilus CEO David Heydon comments “We have been working closely with Teck since late 2006 and are pleased to have them now directly managing a significant offshore exploration program. Not only are they committing to an expenditure of $12 million in 2008, they have also opened and staffed an exploration office in Brisbane with seasoned exploration personnel redeployed from their other global exploration programs. Nautilus and Teck staff are working closely together to design and implement these programs, with both groups seconding staff to assist in each other’s programs. In 2008 Nautilus and Teck are planning to contract up to six vessels, providing the opportunity for new discoveries to build our project pipeline”.Fred Daley, Vice President Exploration for Teck comments “Teck is extremely pleased to be managing such a large scale seafloor research and exploration program on behalf of the parties. Nautilus holds some very prospective tenements in both PNG and Tonga and we are excited about the prospects for new discoveries in 2008. The opportunity to work with the professionals at Nautilus, world class marine research institutes and various consulting groups will significantly advance the understanding, and potential value of, seafloor massive sulphides on the Nautilus tenements.”The initial work program in the territorial waters of PNG commenced on March 26 with a 33 day bathymetric mapping program that will be conducted from the 50 m long MV Sepura, a PNG registered and crewed vessel. This work will define areas for geophysical and geochemical follow-up in mid-2008.Nautilus is the first company to commercially explore the ocean floor for gold and copper seafloor massive sulphide deposits and, subject to timely permitting, is positioning itself to become an emerging producer in 2010. Its main focus is the Solwara 1 Project, which is located in the territorial waters of PNG in the western Pacific Ocean.International Mining’s May issue will review Nautilus, Neptune Minerals and other companies involved in seabed minerals exploration and development.