Investors jump back into Nautilus after CEO departure

Nautilus Minerals (TSX/AIM:NUS) shot up 8.5% to $0.76 in heavy volumes on Wednesday as investors anticipate a new direction for the embattled company following the departure of long-time CEO Stephen Rogers.

Nautilus has appointed Mike Johnston, as interim president and CEO. The Vancouver-based company has run into serious troubles at its flagship project off the Papua New Guinea coast, most recently with a petition landowners sent to the Government to cancel the firm’s seabed mining permit.

The company's Solwara project – what would be the world's first seabed mine – is already half built and was slated to begin production in the fourth quarter of 2013, but a dispute with the PNG government over ownership and funding issues with its partners building a surface vessel for the operation have the put the project on ice.

Shareholders in Nautilus – after today's jump worth $149 million on the Toronto big board – have seen the value of their investments plummet by 62% since the company initiated a legal battle on June 1 over the copper-gold-silver project in the Bismarck Sea and the troubles with its German shipbuilders.

In September the firm closed a private placement at 90c that raised $33.9 million to continue to build its Seafloor Production System.

All the major shareholders of the company supported the offer – Oman's MB Holdings increased its stake to just under 17%, Metalloinvest held at 21% while Anglo American maintained its interest at 11%.

Nautilus has not ruled out returning to the market for more money or finding JV partners to bring the project to completion.