An underwater year…

A Nautilus ROV - photo copyright of Nautilus Minerals
A lot of interesting investing opportunties this year are underwater. And I’m not just talking about the recent minor correction in the markets.
Already this year I’ve looked at a company that aims to make money by converting wave energy into electricity and an underwater logging company.
This week in the spotlight is an underwater mining hopeful. Wired magazine – which consistently finds some of the most interesting stories – talks about startup outfit Nautilus Minerals.
Nautilus aims to make money by mining for gold, copper and other minerals on the ocean floor, where ‘black smokers’ bring up heavy materials from deep inside the earth. A wacky concept to be sure, one that would seem to be more suited to bad science fiction movies like Leviathan. And things didn’t work out so well for the miners in Leviathan, if I recall they got mutated into some kind of horrible monster. But I doubt that is going to the major risk for Nautilus.
Much like Triton Logging and their custom ‘Sawfish’ remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), Nautilus has it’s own mining ROVs like the one pictured above. Definitely some cool pieces of technology. Nautilus is leveraging technology created by the oil companies for deep sea drilling, and the undersea maps created by scientists exploring the ocean floor.
Strange as the idea may seem Nautilus has lined up capital from Anglo American PLC and Barrick Gold, so the idea can’t be that ridiculous.
Unlike Triton Logging, Nautilus is already open to public investment on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) – which is heavy with mining and energy companies. While this makes it somewhat of a pain in the butt for small US based investors like myself, things may be changing.
Etrade, a popular online broker is set to start offering access to markets in Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong and the UK in a few months. Supposedly comissions wil be around $20/trade. Pricey, but still cheaper than almost any other option out there (Interactive Brokers is cheaper, but require $10/month in activity – so not so good if you just want to buy a couple stocks and hold onto them).
With the new Etrade global markets access I’ll also have access to some of the companies doing wave power technology (list on the London & Toronto exchanges). Not sure that any of these are companies I want to invest in, but it’ll be nice to have the option (even if it is at an inflated price). What remains to be seen is how cheap currency conversion ends up being with Etrade.

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