Road Map to Successful Commercial Deep Ocean Mining
Deep ocean mining is experiencing a rebirth following many years of low levels of activity. Large scale mining is being projected as just over the horizon. A lot has been made of the advances in deep water oil and gas developments over the last thirty years, and how this technology is directly applicable to ocean mining. The author presents his views on this from a perspective of a legacy of participating in the development of manganese nodule mining systems in the 1970s, followed by thirty years in the deepwater oil & gas arena. While it is true that great advances have been made in subsea technology, the differences between mining and oil and gas recovery should not be diminished. Fundamentally, oil and gas are stored in compact reservoirs under pressure. Any intervention leads to flow of the material up a pipe to the surface. The seabed hard minerals are stuck in place, either adhering to sticky pelagic sediment (nodules) or bonded together as hard rock (massive sulfides). The minerals require complex machinery in order to be extracted, sized, concentrated and lifted to the surface. Once at the surface the ore must be dewatered, de-fined and transferred to shore for processing. The overflow from this dewatered product must return to the sea in an environmentally satisfactory manner. These steps involve technology unique to mining that has to be addressed in a methodical fashion before commercial mining systems can be designed. The presentation will discuss the critical technical challenges of deepsea mining and thoughts on different routes to commercialization. The program will address the critical technical challenges, as perceived by the author, and steps required to address them. Alternate development programs will be discussed focusing on nodules and sulfides.
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Contact Person - Miss Norela Buang
Contact Number - 6516 4314
Organizer - NUS