Deepsea Minerals: A New Offshore Industry 150 Years in the Making
Wednesday, 3 May
In 2022, The Metals Company's subsidiary NORI and partner Allseas achieved a milestone by safely collecting and lifting tons of polymetallic nodules containing nickel, cobalt, copper, and manganese from 4,300 m in the nodule-rich Clarion Clipperton Zone in the Eastern Pacific. After years of seafloor mapping, resource and environmental data collection, and engineering design, this successful pilot nodule collection test was accomplished from a sixth-generation ultra-deep drillship that was converted to a deep-sea production vessel with new collection and lift systems. Decarbonizing the transportation sector is key to reducing carbon emissions but major increases in the supply and new sources of battery minerals such as nickel, copper and cobalt are required. Polymetallic, or manganese, nodules have been recognized as a huge potential resource for 150 years but it is the convergence of battery mineral and critical mineral needs, sustainability goals, and technological knowledge that is bringing together a new ocean industry in the 21st century. The social license to responsibly collect minerals from the seafloor requires measuring and mitigating the environmental impact to deep ocean ecology and a precautionary approach. In this Executive Dialogue, Gerard will describe and show footage from the milestone production test and initial environmental monitoring results, discuss why collecting seafloor nodules may be the best choice from both an economic and sustainability perspective, and discuss opportunities for service companies with deep ocean engineering and ocean science capabilities.