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Underwater discovery could be gold for Tampa explorers

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  • | 2:57 p.m. June 29, 2015
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TAMPA -- A Mexican subsidiary of Odyssey Marine Exploration Inc. has moved a big step closer to dredging phosphate sands, thanks in part to money received from a March loan-to-acquisition deal.

Exploraciones Oceanicas, which Tampa-based Odyssey holds a 54% stake in, has submitted environmental evaluation paperwork for the phosphate zone in the Pacific Ocean it has dubbed “Don Diego.” While the company won't reveal its exact location, the deposit is said to be about 25 miles from the coast in the Bay of Ulloa, near the Mexican state of Baja California Sur, just south of San Diego.

Odyssey has described the phosphate deposit as “one of the largest and most important in the continent.” On a website promoting the mining efforts, Odyssey claims dredging would allow Mexico to end its dependence on phosphate imports, and instead turn it into a phosphate-exporting nation.

The deep ocean exploration company is working with Minera del Norte SA of Mexico, which announced last spring it would invest up to $101 million in Odyssey over three years through its subsidiary, Penelope Mining LLC. Odyssey is using a short-term $14.8 million loan to help fund this project, getting a final $1.75 million payment this past week.

The overall investment will give Penelope Mining -- which focuses on seafloor mining rights -- control of Odyssey with majority voting power.

Odyssey trades on the Nasdaq under the symbol OMEX. It reported a net loss of $9.7 million, or 11 cents per share, on revenues of $115,000 in the quarter ended March 31. That compares to a $9.8 million, or 12 cents per share, loss the year before, on revenues of $566,000.


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