VANCOUVER (miningweekly.com) – In a new era of ever-advancing technology and increased legal certainty, ocean floor mining is set to take off in the next decade as several juniors jostle to be first to exploit the wealth hidden on the deep ocean floor.
DeepGreen Resources chief development officer Anthony O’Sullivan believes it is in the running to reach the ocean depths, with access to a prime base metals tenure in a prospective region of the Pacific ocean floor.
The company’s flagship Nori project is part of the Clarion Clipperton Zone (CCZ) of the Central Pacific, which was first discovered in 1873 – an area believed to hold an abundance of the polymetallic nodules, with metal concentrations occurring on the vast abyssal plains at a depth of about 4 000 m to 6 000 m in international waters, O’Sullivan told an audience attending the fifty-sixth Annual Conference of Metallurgists, in Vancouver.
According to a 2010 estimate, some 21-billion tonnes of nodules found in the CCZ are estimated to hold six-billion tonnes of manganese, 270-million tonnes of nickel, 234-million tonnes of copper and 46-million tonnes of cobalt. The nodules comprise oxides and hydroxide, with low deleterious arsenic, antimony and mercury.
O’Sullivan advised that the nodules show low head-grade variability, with the 2 cm to 10 cm size rendering them easy to handle. The company expects to use a slurry-based offshore harvesting system, with the suction process recovering about 13 cm of seabed sediment, and producing a diluted slurry.