Shipwreck salvager recovers 15,500 gold, silver coins

Shipwreck hunter recovers first gold from what could be $80m findOdyssey Marine Exploration (NASDAQ CM:OMEX) announced Tuesday that it recovered recovered more than 15,500 silver and gold coins including Double Eagles, 45 gold ingots, gold dust, nuggets jewelry and other artifacts from the SS Central America shipwreck site since April.

"While the exact value of the recovered Central America cargo will not be known until it is monetized, we know it is valued in the tens of millions of dollars and well in excess of the project costs,” said Mark Gordon, Odyssey's chief executive officer, in the company’s third quarter press release.

The SS Central America wreck was discovered in 1988 at a depth of 7,200 feet and the Florida-based company said during the final month of the 2014 recovery season, the Odyssey Explorer performed a 161,000-square-meter, high-resolution video survey of the shipwreck and surrounding seabed.

An additional survey with Odyssey's new dual-head SeaBat 7125 deep tow survey system is currently underway and Odyssey will evaluate information and data gathered from the 2014 operations, including these new surveys, "to determine future plans".

The Central America, carrying mainly mine workers and bosses returning east from the California gold rush was caught in a hurricane and sank on September 12, 1857 roughly 260 kilometres off the South Carolina coast.

Shipwreck hunter recovers first gold from what could be $80m find

477 passengers, mostly miners and businessmen returning east from California with their personal possessions and fortunes in gold accumulated after years of prospecting during the Gold Rush were on board the steamship during her final voyage.

Odyssey believes the ship has one of the largest documented cargoes of gold ever lost at sea and such was the loss, that the salvage company says it contributed to the Panic of 1857.

HMS Victory

Odyssey announced in October, the United Kingdom's Secretary of State for Defence announced consent to proceed with the archaeological investigation and recovery of at-risk artifacts from the wreck site of HMS Victory.

In 2008, Odyssey discovered the shipwreck of HMS Victory (lost 1744) and with the permission of the MOD recovered two cannon to aid positive identification of the shipwreck. In January 2012, a deed of gift transferred the Victory (1744) and associated materials belonging to the Crown to the Maritime Heritage Foundation (MHF), a UK charitable trust.

"HMS Victory is the only wreck of a first-rate English warship discovered underwater anywhere in the world," noted the chairman of the MHF, Lord Lingfield, in the press release announcing the MOD's decision. "Odyssey's archaeological experience with this shipwreck, as well as with many other projects throughout the world, gives us great confidence this important project will be conducted to the highest standards."

The MHF will next submit the necessary application to the UK Marine Management Organisation (MMO). As the exclusive archaeological contractor to the MHF, Odyssey will undertake the activities as outlined in the approved project design, including recording, documentation, conservation and publication. All recovered artifacts will be declared to the Receiver of Wreck in accordance with UK legislation Odyssey announced on Tuesday.

Seabed mining

Odyssey also controls companies engaged in the development of the "Don Diego" phosphate deposit in Mexico. Phosphate is a key natural ingredient of fertilizers.

Odyssey reported in July that the most recent NI 43-101 compliant study showed measured and indicated phosphorite resources at Don Diego totalled 327.2 million ore tonnes at 18.5% P2O5. This assessment represents an increase of 20% over the previous preliminary assessment total of 273.5 million ore tonnes, and it adds 166.4 million inferred ore tonnes at 18.9% P2O5 to the measured and indicated resource assessment.

In August, the Mexican government awarded two additional concession areas that increased the size and value of the "Don Diego" project. The ore quantities of these new concession areas are not yet included in the previously published NI 43-101 report data, said Odyssey.