The Canadian mining company, Nautilus Minerals, says an investment by another major mining company in its operation bodes well for the future of its exploration of the seabed off Papua New Guinea.
The CEO, David Heydon, says Teck Cominco has joined Anglo American, Russian company, Epion and Barrick Gold as shareholders in Nautilus.
The company plans to mine the ocean floor for gold, copper, zinc and sliver sulphide deposits.
Mr Heydon says as well as Papua New Guinea, they are also looking at Fiji, Tonga and Solomon Islands.
He says exploration is well under way in PNG's Bismarck Sea but other countries also show potential.
"Many of these countries have numerous islands; from their outer islands they control vast amounts of sea floor, often well in excess of their land mass, their above water land mass. And, this is a whole new resource category that these countries have that is yet to be explored and assessed and potentially developed."
Mr Heydon says by 2009, production could start in PNG which would include not only offshore mining but onshore processing, providing a stream of revenue for the government and job opportunities for Papua New Guineans.