The Metals Company and its Switzerland-based partner Allseas claim to have successfully tested a pilot underwater nodule collection vehicle in the Atlantic Ocean at a depth of nearly 2,500 meters, Kallanish reports.
The collection vehicle was deployed from the Hidden Gem surface vessel and lowered to the ocean floor for testing at a depth of 2,470m, marking the first time the collection vehicle has been subjected to temperatures and ultra-deep pressures, according to the companies. It says a number of systems were tested while the collection vehicle traveled about 1 kilometer across the ocean floor.
This was the first deep water test for the nodule collection system which had previously been wet tested and shallow water tested. Canada’s Metals Company is planning a test at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean between Mexico and Hawaii, where it wants to mine fist-sized nodules of nickel, copper, cobalt and manganese.
“The pilot nodule collection system has been performing wonderfully throughout these trials so far and bringing the collection vehicle into the deep waters of the Atlantic has given the team the opportunity to test really pressure critical components,” said Gerard Barron, CEO and President of The Compagnie des Métaux.
The Metals Company is working with Epsilon Carbon to complete a pre-feasibility study for a commercial-scale nodule processing plant in India, starting in Q4 2024. The plant would produce over 30,000 tonnes/yr of a matte nickel-copper-cobalt intermediate. product used for active cathode materials for lithium-ion batteries and more than 750,000 t/y of manganese silicate for use in steel.
The deal is contingent on The Metals Company’s approval by the UN’s International Seabed Authority to mine the nodules. The agency aims to complete the first-ever seabed mining regulations by July 2023. Critics warn that such mining could create environmental problems.
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