Friday, April 27, 2018

Major Shipping Group Assists in Deep Sea Research Into Valuable Ore Recovery

Companies Aim for a Sustainable, Zero Waste, Mining Programme
Shipping News Feature
US – PACIFIC OCEAN – On April 26 Maersk Supply Service, a specialist projects in the ocean depths, began its joint project with Canadian outfit DeepGreen Metals this week with the departure of the Maersk Launcher from the Port of San Diego for its inaugural deep sea mineral offshore study. Maersk Supply Service began working with DeepGreen in 2017, to bring the Danish owned company's knowledge of working at extreme depths in the marine environment to the development of a method for harvesting small metallic rocks, known as polymetallic nodules, in a sustainable way.

The nodules contain metals such as copper, cobalt, manganese and nickel, which are valuable materials for electronics, as well as batteries used for renewable technologies. The offshore work targets the Clarion Clipperton Zone of the Pacific Ocean at a water depth of up to 4,500 metres. A total of five voyages are planned for 2018 and 2019. The first four centred on environmental studies and documentation of the seabed.

The overall aim of the offshore work is to better understand the quality and quantity of nodules present and how to best extract them in a sustainable way. The studies are part of a precautionary approach where DeepGreen engages with world leading scientists with an open mind and full transparency.

The offshore work will occur under the regulation of the United Nations’ International Seabed Authority (ISA), which will ensure the world’s best practices and demand minimal environmental impact. Maersk Supply Service has committed to supporting five marine voyages. The contribution includes two vessels, as well as project services. Maersk Supply Service’s contribution of approximately $25 million will be converted to DeepGreen shares. CEO of Maersk Supply Service, Steen S. Karstensen, commented:

"We are pleased to see that our specialised assets are being utilised in a unique and whole new market area. Although deep sea mineral recovery is in an early stage and production is a few years away, it is a promising business area with the potential for significant future growth and links into Maersk Supply Service’s overall strategy about diversifying its business into new markets.”

DeepGreen Metal’s subsidiary, Nauru Ocean Resources Inc. (NORI), will carry out scientific and resource surveys within a 75,000-square kilometre contract area, granted to NORI by the United Nations’ International Seabed Authority (ISA). The NORI D Project is conducted in cooperation with the Republic of Nauru and advancing the project involves completion of key environmental and engineering milestones. As part of the NORI D Project, Maersk Supply Service has committed one Anchor Handler Tug Supply (AHTS) Vessel and one Subsea Support Vessel (SSV) for the five campaigns.

The AHTS vessel will support environmental studies of the seabed reaching a water depth of 4,000+ metres and the SSV will be utilising its deck capacity as well as crane capabilities for testing the nodule harvester prototype. During the voyages DeepGreen’s offshore team will undertake baseline studies required to complete a comprehensive Environmental Impact Assessment. DeepGreen will also collect the polymetallic nodules for metallurgical test work and undertake trials of its nodule harvesting technology. Gerard Barron, CEO of DeepGreen, observed:

“This voyage is a continuation of the work required in preparation of the Environmental Impact Statement that NORI aims to submit to the ISA, a necessary step to move the exploration licence to exploitation licence, which will enable NORI to bring these essential metals for our future to the surface where they will be treated onshore using DeepGreen’s patented processing technology, which aims to produce zero waste. We believe these future metals can be produced responsibly, protecting ocean health, while avoiding the deforestation, pollution and child labour that too often are part of traditional mining.”